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Track List: 1. In the Scent of the Night 5:46 2. Over the Sea 3:51 3. The Last Flower 4:38 4. Timing 4:30 5. One Day 3:40 6. Different Ways 4:51 7. Maybe Time 3:06 8. Across the Styx 4:43 9. Distant Lights 5:03 10. How Can I Believe 4:38 11. The Secret 5:56 12. Blind Is the Light 7:04 All tracks: by Xinema. Line-up: Mikael Akemur - - lead vocals; bass & guitars; keyboards; programming Sven Larsson - - lead guitar; backing vocals Jonas Thuren - - drums; lead & backing vocals Recorded at "The Shining Hut Studios". Produced by Bill & Bull.
Preamble. Although all three of the members of Xinema aren't novices on the Progressive Rock scene, "Different Ways" is the debut album by the band. According to the CD press kit, Xinema's music represents a blend of melodic AOR and Progressive. Let's see what it is really about.
The Album. I would define the music on "Different Ways" in a different way altogether. Overall, this is nothing else but quite a heavy Neo Progressive Rock. To be more precise, seven of the twelve songs that are presented on this album (no instrumentals here) are about a blend of Neo Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal of a high quality, while the others are just Neo Symphonic Art-Rock ballads that either features the elements of Prog-Metal or not. Respectively, here are songs: In the Scent of the Night, Over the Sea, Timing, Maybe Time, Distant Lights, The Secret, and Blind Is the Light (1, 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, & 12). And these are ballads: The Last Flower, One Day, Different Ways, Across the Styx, and How Can I Believe (3, 5, 6, 8, & 10). Each of these songs and ballads features at least the three different parts of vocal and a few different instrumental parts. The main value of all twelve of the tracks that are present on Xinema's debut album concerns however, the following aspects: all of them are original and very, very tasteful. Furthermore, all of them feature many essential progressive features and, what's central, sound really fresh, which is by no means typical for Neo and the other 'simplistic' appearances and manifestations of Progressive. Now, please allow me to present you the instrumental 'dynamics' of this album. Apart from vocals, the solos and passages of synthesizers, solos and, in a less degree, riffs of electric guitar, those of bass and drums are really ubiquitous on "Different Ways". The Hammond organ is active on songs, while an acoustic piano - on ballads. The passages of acoustic guitar are present only on Across the Styx and The Secret (8 & 11), though the first of these ballads contains also the solos of acoustic guitar. String-like passages of synthesizer are heard on How Can I Believe (10). Finally, the solos that very much remind me of those of the harp are featured on the closing track of the album, Blind Is the Light (12). This song (and this is the longest song here), by the way, features more of the instrumental parts than those of vocal and is undoubtedly the most progressive composition on the album.
Summary. As I said above, Xinema's music is original, though, at the same time, it is quite heavy overall. In that way, all the comparisons that I am going to use here are of a very relative character. So, I can't say that I liked "Different Ways" as much as I like the 'heavy' albums of Yes ("90125", "Talk", and "Big Generator"), for instance. On the other hand, "Different Ways" is, in my view, definitely better than most of Saga's albums, and all those of Styx, Toto, etc. Recommended.
VM: January 10, 2002
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