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St. Elmo's Fire - Artifacts of Passion CD (album) cover


St. Elmo's Fire


Heavy Prog

3.62 | 19 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars St. Elmo's Fire, a Cleveland-based band existed for about three years from 1979 to 1981, disbanded for 17 years, and then came back into the limelight with their 1998 release "Splitting Ions in the Ether," a live album of a concert recorded in 1980. In 2001, they released their first "studio" album, Artifacts of Passion, which came about through long-distance collaboration of the members of the group.

It has been said in numerous reviews that "Splitting Ions in the Ether" was chiefly inspired by King Crimson (Lizard through Red era). However, Artifacts in Passion shows only slight King Crimson influences and showcases a diverse arrangement of instruments. In addition to the usual electric guitars, bass, drums, and keys, one finds things like a shofar (an ancient horn instrument), violins, djembe, tabla, etc. Artifacts of Passion is made up of both songs the group first developed in the late 1970's to brand new ideas conceived of in the late 1990's.

The album starts off with "The Dead Sea Scrolls," a nice instrumental that has a strong Middle Eastern feel and some really nice Mellotron. This is followed by "North-West Territory," which is average fare, but has some nice electric guitars and violin (although I think the violin should be higher in the mix). "Contortions of the Balrog," inspired by the Tolkien character, is a really nice piece of music with some interesting guitar work reminding me of a mix of Rush and Anekdoten.

The fourth track, "Esmerelda," is nice and has a Middle Eastern/Gypsy kind of feeling to it, mostly from the acoustic guitar and violin. This song loses its attraction after a little bit for me because it goes on for too long and is too repetitive. "The Nemo Syndrome" is the only song on this album with vocals. It's okay and the male vocals are quite good, but I find the female vocals to be very poor. The song is good in places. Otherwise, it seems to lack cohesion and drags on for too long.

"Erin & the Green Man" has a Celtic feel focused on acoustic guitar and violin. Again, this is okay, but I don't find it interesting at all (again, probably too long). "The Abduction of the Adolescents" is basically a long-winded improvisation and would have been better if it was half as long. "Lake Effect" is nice, features bagpipes, but seems too repetitive. Finally, the last track, "Dog-Eared Page," is a nice folk dance instrumental, but twisted with Mellotron backdrops in places. An interesting piece.

Overall, some nice stuff, but tracks four through eight seem to drag on too much and I find I often lose interest during this part of the album. Musically, it is performed quite well. It would have been more interesting if many of the pieces could keep my attention. Good, but not in the least essential, thus three stars.

progaeopteryx | 3/5 |


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