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Corvus Stone - Corvus Stone II CD (album) cover

CORVUS STONE II

Corvus Stone

 

Crossover Prog

4.07 | 338 ratings

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lucas
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars As suggested by its title, 'II' is the second album by multi-national band Corvus Stone. They continue with their merry blend of various musical influences, for an explosive cocktail of colours and sounds. Drummer Robert Wolff is now an official member of the band, while vocal duties were shared between several recording artists of Nick Katona's label, Melodic Revolution Records (later shortened in MRR). Sonia Mota, the biggest David Bowie fan on earth, was involved again for the artwork, as enchanting as on the first album.

As announced in preamble of this review, this album is a festival of musical sounds, as diverse as the origin of the musicians involved. While music in general is in the field of progressive rock, it's easy to notice that the band doesn't care about labels. Progressive rock is a means to sublimate their influences rather than an end in itself. Therefore, you will hear pop (the baroque echoes of the harpsicord in the opener with beatlesque vocal harmonies, the pastoral accents of "Eternal universe"). Other popular forms of music are also represented. Let's start with blues-rock. First with the cover of Murky Red's "Boots for hire", where the virile voice is provided by none other than Murky Red's frontman, Stef Flaming, yet in a context slightly different from the original version, through its spacey keys and arabesques. Then, the blues influence is also obvious in the languid "Mystery man", with its eerie keys and reminiscences of The Beatles' "I want you (she's so heavy)" in the closing section. Rock'n'roll is there as well with the hellish "Purple stone" and a short wink to Deep Purple's "Highway star". Folk music, highlighted by the use of finnish in the lyrics ("Campfire"), has also its place in this monumental album. On the other hand, "Uncle Schunkle" with its groovy rhythms and its vintage hammond, recalls the golden age of jazz-funk. And obviously, since Corvus Stone are regarded as a progressive rock act, the instrumental "A stoned crow meets the rusty Wolff" is a piece that goes in this direction, with many rhythm changes and colourful keys. The title of the song is a pun on the drummer's name but might also be a reference to Happy The Man's humorous piece "Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest". Besides those influences, some dances are honoured throughout the record: salsa ("Scandinavians in Mexico"), cha cha cha ("Mr Cha Cha"), waltz ("Early morning call" with echoes of Stranglers' "Golden Brown"), bolero ("Camelus bactrianus"), flamenco (Colin's guitar opening to some tracks). Moreover, some neo-classical interludes intersperse the album, be it in a mozartian way ("Lisa has a cigar"), or romantic fashion ("Dark Tower"). More surprising is the pastoral symphony in four movements "Moaning Lisa" (two movements in the tradition of british songs of the elisabethan era, separated by a mouth organ-lead boiling instrumental movement, and a final waltz closing the symphony).

Besides the lack of interest for any specific label, the band deals with a lot of humour, never grotesque, always delivered with profesionalism. This is made possible thanks to a wide range of keyboard sounds and versatile guitar soloing, among other factors. In fact, keyboard sounds are very diverse, ubiquitous and tasty. While guitar gently weeps with touching short spastic licks, it can also turn aerial, fiery or even delve in a classical spanish realm as seen before. The presence of drummer Robert Wolff on all tracks is an improvement over the previous album. In fact, his play blends the elegance of Barriemore Barlow and the punch of John Bonham, and is instrumental in the support of the music's humorous and eclectic flavours. Vocals are diverse this time, as singers from several MRR acts were invited for the project. Blake Carpenter's high-pitch and sense of derision is tempered by more seriously delivered vocals from his mates of MRR, the whole adding to the versatility of the work.

Corvus Stone are a band that don't take themselves seriously, and this aspect should be taken into account when reviewing their works. Thanks to their experience in music, a great musicianship and a sense of humour, they deliver a music that is heartfelt, not dictated by any trend of the moment, and that will put a smile on your face and certainly make your day.

lucas | 5/5 |

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