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Cliffhanger - Not To Be Or Not To Be CD (album) cover





3.35 | 41 ratings

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4 stars "Not to Be or Not to Be!" was the 2nd album released by Dutch prog rockers Cliffhanger in 1996. Cliffhanger is firmly in the neo-progressive subgenre, showing some symph prog tendencies and clearly influenced by 70's-era Genesis. There are also similarities with Fish-era Marillion and Citizen Cain.

The album starts off with "Innocent Victim," having a strong Trespass-era Genesis/Citizen Cain feel to it. It begins with a cool, awkward piano line, then evolves into lush keys, Hackett-like guitar solos, and merely adequate drumming. Vocalist Rinie Huigen sounds like a cross between Peter Gabriel and Cyrus, but more low-key. His vocals should be higher in the mix and seem to get drowned out from time to time by the band. Bassist Gijs Koopman sounds like a mix of Chris Squire and Dave Meros, although his playing skills are not in the same league. Although I find this to be a great song musically speaking, the mix could use a little more depth and warmth.

The second track is an instrumental called "Sewers." It starts off with a lot of random noise, ā la "Waiting Room." This evolves into a complex, awkward jam, sort of like Genesis meets King Crimson. Quite interesting and quite original."The Artist" has a strong Genesis/early Marillion/Citizen Cain feel to it. Similar, though not as good as the first track.

The fourth track, "Ragnarök," times in at almost 25 minutes. It is chiefly keyboard-dominated, spacey in parts, sometimes lush, and sometimes harsh. The vocals are occasionally enhanced electronically, but are often too low in the mix. Some of the transitions between the various parts are awkward. During some of the parts that seem too complicated to sing over, the vocals feel awkward and out of synch. The last 10 or so minutes are entirely instrumental, some of it beautiful, some of it unnecessary. Although I found this to be a great song and I understand it is about Nordic battles of some sort which is represented quite well by the musical themes, it seems like it goes on for too long to me.

The fifth track, "Moon," is a dreamy piano/synth instrumental. It's a nice song and a fitting ending. My copy of this album follows "Moon" with about 10 minutes of silence and then a crazy jam for a bit over 2 minutes at the end. A hidden track, I suppose.

Although I have made critical remarks about the mixes and perhaps the structures of this work, I am nevertheless quite impressed with Cliffhanger's delivery, originality, and performance. One of the better neo prog releases and well deserving of four stars. An excellent addition to any prog music collection.

progaeopteryx | 4/5 |


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