As I am impressed with the quality of the band, I ordered the CD from the website and got it fairly quick.
So the question is, how do these songs hold up to the other titles? Well in all fairness, I think the Touchstone sound is already clearly audible, but not completely on the same level as later releases. Which is a natural thing.
Main point are the female vocals. I am not completely sure it is Kim Seviour, the booklet does not tell who did what (except for the live tracks). But these are less adventurous as on later albums. On these 4 songs the vocals of Rob Cottingham are more prominent. Song wise it still is easy digestible progressive music leaning towards neo prog. I like Misguided Fool and the title track best. The latter having a mid section reminding me heavily of Yes (era Starship Trooper), without it sounding like a copy.
Added are live tracks Original Sin and Dignity. Not mentioned in the booklet, but also present is the track Mad World (Tears For Fears) where mister John Mitchell makes a guest appearance.
To sum it up, a nice addition to any prog collection.
In a recent post I talked about the bands début. This follow up is in many ways the better record.
First: it rocks harder. The guitars are more upfront in the mix. And I like it!
Second: the 2 vocalists add more to each other on this record. Less duo vocals, more solo, but with counter singing. This really adds to the sound of the band. More freshness, more surprises. I like it.
Third: maybe because of the success of the first album the band seem more confident at what they do. The arrangements became even more adventurous, with some small influences from other styles of music. An average song on the album now lasts about 7 minutes. There are some short tracks, and the title track lasts a fine 10 minutes. Still they manage to keep it all together, with recognizable melodies. Like that a lot.
Alas there are 2 things they did I am not too keen on. There is a storyteller. Not much luckily enough, but that is just not my thing. And I feel the drums are a little too soft in the mix. But as I rated the first disk high already, I do feel this one is even better. Great job, get it if you like progressive rock on a somewhat harder edge.
Personal play tips: Wintercoast, Voices, Zinomorph.
Progressive / symphonic rock the British are famous for. Big selling point are the duo lead vocals of Kim Seviour and Rob Cuttingham (also keyboards).
When 2 voices sing together almost continuously, there is always a risk that the end result is neither fish nor meat. Making it all to smooth often. I must confess that was my first impression here also. But as is often the case, repeated plays adjusts your hearing to the sound the band really has.
And it is no denying that this is a very nice record. Nothing too heavy of course, but still it rocks where it needs to. The songs have a lot of atmosphere. It is highly melodic and holds a lot of variation within the songs. Maybe due to the involvement of John Mitchell, but it resembles Arena (The Visitor era) at times. But that is not a bad reference in my opinion.
Only thing I am not too keen on (and we hear it in a lot of recordings alas) is the sound of the drums, especially the snare. When the snare has a constant sound (which no drummer in real life has), I feel it becomes to mechanical. I wished more drummers and engineers would record the actual snare sound, this making the drums sound more organic. But let´s face it, this still is a very enjoyable album! I am curious how their next album will sound… More on that later.
Personal play tips: Discordant Dreams, See The Light, Being Hannah.