Two years back The Aurora Project took a serious blow when rhythm guitarist and lyricist Marc Vooijs suddenly died. The band took a year off to decide on their future and the outcome is clear, the band continues, but without replacing Marc. This means their sound is now more rock than metal, with bass and keyboard filling the guitar gaps.
World Of Grey is a concept album based on an idea from Marc but this time Mox stepped in the writing shoes. It deals with the idea that the established world order is increasingly restricting the people and a grey blanket of control and repression descends over the world. How the album art fits in is not quite clear to me, but I guess that is artistic license. While listening to the album (which does work as single songs by the way) I noticed it took the band a song or 2 to really find their own feet. Opener Expect Us sounds a bit like your regular neo prog band but from then on it is onwards and upwards. Stone Eagle is a great slow burning song, Deadly Embrace another song with catchy melodies and rather tasty guitar work. Okay, sometimes it still sounds a bit Marillionesque, but with more bite, so no problems there.
The band will resume live duties this year, so be on the lookout for that. The songs on this album will work, no doubts in my mind! If you like your prog melodic and with great playing, make sure to listen in.
Earlier this year The Aurora Project released their third album Selling The Agression on Freia Music, and my review of it was quite favourable. And now the same label and band bring us a DVD: Selling It Live. Which is, should you not have guessed, a capture of their live performance at the release of the aforementioned album. So we get the full album, and additional favourites from both band and fans.
Recorded on 32 tracks and 12 camera´s we get a close view of this band in action. And despite playing tight and focused, it takes many members quite some time to flash a smile and express their joy of playing for the large crowd. So even if they have performed live a lot (supporting amongst others Threshold, RPWL or Pain Of Salvation), knowing you are being filmed for a future release is still causing some extra tension I guess.
This results in an at times static performance. I also suspect that at least some of the backing vocals are not live, but as a whole the band sure play tight and deliver their songs with conviction. Another good thing is the video wall to support the lyrics with vivid images. The music is a heart warming combination of prog metal and neo prog, so still nothing wrong with that. Congratulations to band and label for pulling this off, and proggies, you know what to do.
Should anybody worry about the future of progressive rock, there is no need for that. At least I think that is the case as long as bands like The Aurora Project keep popping up. Not that the band is about creating a new niche for themselves. No, it is because they are able to create music in the best prog rock traditions and still manage to let it sound fresh and interesting.
So no new mixing of contradictory styles, impossible time signatures or infusing strange ideas or instruments into the songs. Instead we get 7 songs reminding me of genre greats like Arena, Marillion and Pendragon. They work a lot with dynamics and prove to have a good ear for melody. And with this third release they also prove to have enough experience to carry the weight of the almost obligatory concept album. Which in this case is handling the development of society since the introduction of the internet. So yes, expect recurring themes and a lot of words sometimes. But in my ears this is an entertaining album, that withstands repeated play with ease and just keeps on getting better.
Label Freia once again releases this on both (beautiful) digipack as on limited edition vinyl for the true collectors. Combos are also available. I say grab a copy pronto and delve in deep!