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Monarch Trail - Skye CD (album) cover


Monarch Trail



3.97 | 131 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars 'Skye' is a 2014 album by newcomers to the Neo Prog scene Monarch Trail. The band are lead by visionary, vocalist, keyboardist extraordinaire Ken Baird, who has been carving his name into progressive folklore with his fine solo albums over the years. Baird, this time around, has roped in two accomplished musicians in the form of bassist Dino Verginella and drummer Chris Lamont. Along with these musos are guest guitarists John Mamone, Steve Cochrane, and Kelly Kereliuk. The result of all these varied talents is a solid album with some impressive musicianship encompassing four tracks clocking almost 50 minutes.

The packaging of the album is graced with a beautifully realised cover, depicting a smiling girl in a darkened forest. In Annette Roche's artwork there are mystical overtones of a Celtic setting, and in the inner lining the art is an image of the girl with a hazy blue wash, and she is closing her eyes as if dreaming, giving a haunting quality so well reflected in the music. The album is primarily dominated by Baird's keyboard finesse, indeed there are extended passages of synthesizer solos and ambient washes with swathes of synths.

The album opens with 'Luminescence' with an extended instrumental segment, before Baird's vocals chime in. The vocal style at first comes across as thin and whispy, very relaxed as reflective lyrics are sung. On 'Silent World' the vocals are layered and more successful in terms of the power of the music in contrast. The stark musical embellishment on this album are the incredible drums of Lamont. Often the drums are played just behind the beat or even ahead of the beat providing an urgency to the tracks. The drumming is sporadic with a lot of fills and cymbal splashes; very progressive and dynamic.

The band are capable of virtuosic performances such as on the instrumental 'East of Fifty' and on the last track. The album closes with a colossal epic 'Sky Above the Sun' spreading out to over 20 minutes. This track is worth the price of admission alone, served up with lashings of harmonic guitars and glazed over with Baird's fluttering fingers on the keyboard. The song moves from a quiet solitude to a deep centred resonance building to a powerful crescendo.

Overall 'Skye' is a solid release injected with passion and power. The Neo elements are strong, similar to IQ or components of The Flower Kings, so with that recommendation, and for those enamoured with the work of Ken Baird, it is well worth seeking out this fine album by Monarch Trail.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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