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Wobbler - Hinterland CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.81 | 333 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Hinterland is the debut album from Norwegian band Wobbler, one of those bands that are unashamedly retro with quite clear references to the iconic bands of progs past, most notably classic era Yes.

Hinterland is made form essentially three epic songs, the first of which is a rather ambitious 27 minutes for a bands first song. The album starts off, though, with a short prelude, Serenade For 1652, which gives a soft entry to the album. The big difference in the music on Hinterland and that of many other Symphonic bands is that they do not focus on solos so much. Its not that there aren't any, its just that the focus of the band seems to be more on building up a complex and flowing structure to their compositions, whilst still having space for a few solos, primarily on Lars Fredrick Froislie's keyboards.

The only real downsides to this album is that I feel they get a bit carried away on the title track, Hinterland. I feel that this would have been a truly stunning epic if it was shortened to about 20 minutes with some of the instrumental sections getting cut down, they do tend to go on a bit before a change comes but since each section is rather well done it manages to hold a good deal of interest before you want that change. Of more importance is that the songs don't have that final bite, that last something that really grabs people and that singles out a masterpiece from the very good. The main reason for this is that it feels like the band has more to come, or has more to give to create that masterpiece.

Of the instrumentation you get four very strong musicians. In my White Willow reviews I raved about how Lars Fredrick Froislie's addition really raised the bar with the quality of the keyboard playing. He maintains that level of playing here and even expresses himself in a more extrovert manner musically at times than he would normally do in WW, i.e. more extravagant soloing. One thing that did stand out to me was that it seems that it's the keyboards and bass that hold together the melody here, with Kristian Karl Hultgren showing a melodic side to the bass whilst still holding down the rhythm section with subtle, yet very noticeable drumming of Martin Nordrum Kneppen. The guitars of Morten Andreas Eriksen seem to take up the more traditional role of the keyboards by playing more to enhance the effect and atmosphere of the music whilst occasionally taking centre stage. Lastly, the singer Tony Johannessen has a very husky voice that's almost raspy at times and very much unique. I rather like his vocals as they fit the music perfectly but they do have the draw back of a limited range which may prove to be a problem in later releases.

I know I'm going to be alone in this but this is the kind of album I always wanted Yes to make, were everything always works together, every note, every run and the tone of each instrument as well. As a result I highly recommend this to fans of classic Symphonic Prog, particularly Yes or Genesis, but don't want that slightly clichéd feel that you can sometimes get from The Flower Kings and Neal Morse era Spock's Beard. it's a very good album but at no time does it ever feel like a masterpiece, still I suspect that that is yet to come. A well deserved 4 stars.

sleeper | 4/5 |


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