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The Tea Party - The Ocean At The End CD (album) cover

THE OCEAN AT THE END

The Tea Party

 

Crossover Prog

3.38 | 44 ratings

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jsmidg
3 stars Welcome back guys.Can't believe no reviews yet of this major come back moment but I feel honored to start ! Don't expect anything elaborate or pretentious(apart from this opening) but just an honest down to earth appraisal of this, frankly, slightly disappointing release. And it's not really prog in it's true sense - just prog elements.

They've been doing their 'own thing' for a while + Jeff Martin has made a few 'watered down' versions of Tea Party albums since their split, but after almost a decade apart you would imagine they'd come back with stronger material than this - admittedly there are a few excellent tracks but the overall feel is of a reduced abundance of melodies (which was always their strong point), reduced number of high points, and an obvious attempt in some places to re-create a sound similar to what they produced in the 90s. I loved how all their previous albums were so different - I even loved 'Seven Stars' (regularly abused) which to me was a 'beefed up' stab at mainstream recognition which I don't blame Jeff Martin for - because that had some great melodies and many highlights. OK enough rambling, lets analyse :

1. The L.O.C. : Excellent opener - which isn't always a Tea Party strong point - ref.'Touch' from 'Triptych'. Reminds me of 'Song remains the same' in parts. 'Galloping' style beat with great bass work. Very rocky...very Zeppelin..and very good news! (Thanks Ade Edmondson) 9/10

2. Black Sea : Reasonable. Jungle rhythm opening followed by heavy and fairly ' doomy' rock . It's fairly predictable, and the Black Sea lyric delivery is painful to my ears. Some good moments though and a nice solo. 7.5/10

3. Cypher : Nice atmospheric opening but then degenerates into a slightly 'leaden' rock work out - sounds like an outtake from 'Transmission' sessions in a way. Has some redeeming features but ultimately nothing uplifting (maybe the instrumental bit from 2:45..but it's far too short). 7/10

4. The Maker : WTF. To me this is truly awful. It's sounds like a sickly attempt at a hit single. A poor man's 'Watcher' etc. Guys- what were you thinking ! So predictable and bland - but a good solo at the end which doubles it's score. 4/10

5. Black Rose: At last something to cherish again. And some acoustic guitar opening it - which I think is sadly lacking throughout the album. You could say the track's a bit formulaic but it's superbly executed and oozes melody and class. In places Martin really lets his voice rip like the old days - real passion and emotion. 8.5/10.

6. Brazil : Oops, nice idea but another album low point for me. Basically a rock song with little melody. It has some good beefy guitar sections, however the track is regularly punctuated by what I can only describe as Amazonian chanting/groaning. Look, I'm all for a bit of variation but this doesn't work. 5/10

7. 11th Hour : Thankfully things start to get more consistent in 2nd half of the album. Good fairly heavy track this - would have fitted on 'Twilight' quite easily. Martin's voice again full of that passion I love. Further Zeppelin sounding moments here too (never a bad thing usually).8.5/10

8.Submission : The opening really sounds like Gary Numen circa 'Cars' (honest), and a 'Transmission' feel here. I like Numen-but if you don't then you may dislike this. It's generally heavy with that keyboard feel appearing regularly. 7.5/10

9. Cass Corridor : Initially sounds like it's going to be a tedious up tempo standard rock track - but it has real energy and great 'Hey man' chorus from Martin ( very 'Suffragette City'). Short and fairly sweet. 7.5/10

10. Water's on fire : At first I thought ''oh my god - not another 'Maker' !'' But thankfully it isn't - and this one really developes and houses the albums stellar chorus. Martin screams out the short beautiful chorus to make any rock fan go weak at the knees! Ha. Superb guitar solo too. My favorite track. 9.5/10

11. Ocean at the End : When I first heard this a few weeks ago on the naughty web, it sounded a bit lame and 'Tea Party' by numbers. But now it sounds great! Maybe something to do with following the previous track - they work well together. Longest track, which starts very atmospheric with sound of waves/keyboard, and then Martin comes in with fairly haunting and laid back voice + we have that rare breed : a long Tea Party guitar solo - which is very bluesy and superb. The ending is excellent as well - a total extra dimension to the track (vocals). 9.5/10

12. Into the Unknown : A quiet closing atmospheric keyboard track. Sounds like something Eno churned out by the crate load 20 or 30 years ago. Poorish to be honest and a bit confusing .Think it would have worked better if truncated and followed by another rock track opening with drums...but hey - what do I know and who do I think I am? 4/10

Generally this is a fairly good rock album with a few prog moments - but it's let down by a few poor tracks and lacks imagination in many places. I'm feeling there are opportunities to develop many tracks here and to have more instrumental sections : I love Martin's voice,especially when he lets that passion through, but there is an impression sometimes that he dominates things too often(apart from last track of course) . Still, if you are new to Tea Party music then this might seem a great album. It pleases me in many places too - just not the classic I expected.

jsmidg | 3/5 |

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