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State Urge - Confrontation CD (album) cover

CONFRONTATION

State Urge

 

Crossover Prog

3.84 | 68 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars State Urge is back, the latest little darling of my current rotation of regulars, all masterpieces that rarely come close to the ridiculous talent on display here. The debut was an outright stunner, a 'white rock experience' that will shake you out of your reveries and retains its elite place among my all-time jewels. Yes, the bar was set very high, a perfect debut opus the really nailed me to the cross and hard. Standout tracks like the spell-binding "All I Need" and prog ballads like the lusty "Long For You" are mind boggling examples of a fledgling quartet of musical minds that have an intellectual brain to go with the blazing chops. Their music is, like their moniker might imply, urgent as well as extremely melodic and at times quite extroverted. All four musicians are not only talented verging on the 'special' but the interplay and yearning for sizzle is apparent in every track, clearly defining an artistic determination to exceed the norms. Singer and guitarist Marcin Cieslik is master of both, a clear, almost accent less English vocal style that convinces from the get go, while his guitar skills seem more content in the raspy panache world of slingers like Phil Manzanera, exuding both power and finesse. Keyboard texturizer Michal Tarkowski plays a large role as well, using organ, piano and synths to canvas the appropriate symphonics but in a much rawer style than the Emerman/Wakeson format. The rhythm section is top notch, a bruising bassist in Krystian Papiernik and in Marcin Bochanski, the quartet has a bustling basher that nails the mood to the wall.

All the songs are highly polished (sorry, I could not help myself) gems, whether harder edged cuts like the omnipresent title track, the relentless and organ-doused "Revival" or melodic outbursts such as the sublime "Liquid Disease" and the magnificently dramatic "Cold as a Lie". On the Opener "Confrontation", the mood is set for the imminent pleasure ride and no holds barred prog is delivered with both grace and pressure. The sparkling keyboards rev up a rocking engine that gets all bristling with energy, an almost punky edge full of desperation and collision, the lyrics clearly identifying the age old skirmish between love partners. Besides the obvious progressive references, there is also a hint of bands such as Killing Joke, Ultravox, Magazine and The Stranglers, which is a no mean feat by any stretch.

On the previously mentioned "Revival" the moody arrangement goes from a jagged and jumpy Hammond fueled imbroglio to a mid-section that is bar-room jazz lounge and back to a vocal hymn that just makes the head spin. The hissy temperament is aggressive and despondent, silk mixed with stone, anger and hope all intertwined. Needless to mention, the soaring axe solo is utterly spellbinding.

On the 7 minute "Liquid Disease", the intricate guitar work takes a front row spotlight, hot and heavy as it weaves across thumping beats and guides the slippery synths along for the journey. The lyrics are appropriately bleak and somewhat angry, perhaps influenced by Steve Wilson's rose colored glasses. Unearthly intro that morphs into a buzzing riff rife with tension and electricity, the spiraling rant loses control, a roller coaster of confusion and lingering damnation. The punky nihilism is entrancing, a comatose enquiry about the human condition that goes beyond platitudes and intensifies the shock to the system. Again the guitar work, though simple, really expresses a quiet rage that is quite flattering!

The trepidation that permeates "Cold as a Lie" is enough for me to swoon over, a melancholic ballad that has a swooping vocal, swamped in old school prog dynamics (Procol Harum, Tai Phong and Spooky Tooth) as the rolling organ permeates the arrangement buoyed by a sulfurous melody that stabs you deep in the soul, the almost U2-like clanging electric guitars that highlight the unfolding drama are wholly sublime. Overwrought, vivid and grandiloquent, this is a fascinating piece of melodic fantasy, immediately seizing one by the emotional jugular, a fine companion to the romantic elegance of "Long for You". Cieslik's vocal is a paramount trait as well. Bravo!

A rousing organ introduces a longer track, the rambling and seductive "Midnight Mistress" which will delve into more mysterious climes, where a dense sense of foreboding and youthful anger is all wrapped up in one delirious slice of progressive magic. There are even tubular bells used to add some spectral depth to the rhythmic onslaught. The deliberate premise is an extensive dirge-like hymn that provides Cieslik with a long solo spot to show off his particular tense style that combines hints of Fripp, Page, Box and The Edge. Then ivoryman Tarkowski does some nasty things to his frothing organ again, a powerful finale. Impressive.

Another softer song, a musical trait that this band does also rather well, the fragile "New Season" has a guileless initial configuration, introspective vocal and acoustic guitar to enchant and a lovely Spanish guitar solo to follow and a sudden symphonic chorus that involves the entire Gdynia crew, sailors setting sail into the Baltic sun. Cieslik blows a masterful solo from his axe, raising the tension even more. Brilliant.

The colossal "Before the Dawn" is all about sullen delicateness, a tubular cocoon of sound that oohs and aahs along, subtle and manic, fueled by torrential choir work and a pummeling drum attack that careens and quakes like some apocalyptic storm.

The finale is the stupendous epic "More", a 10 minute + workout that ultimately encapsulates what this band can accomplish. Far from premature and impatient, the quartet weaves a slow burning sizzler that keeps rising to alternate levels, like some prog elevator, slowly building up a frothy tempest of sound. 'Nothing can bring us down' intones the mercurial Marcin! The fascination stems from fusing unpretentious stylistics and configuring a whopping sense of drama and theatrics into the diabolical osmosis. The choir-heavy chorus is pushed along by a fizzling guitar that seeks no immediate conclusion, the heavenly voices brewing sweet hypnosis. A sensational finale.

State Urge is a young yet mature band, similar to their Italian companions Unreal City, who seek to pursue fresh and vibrant progressive configurations, crafting quality pieces that rock and also challenge the senses. They are, in my humble opinion, the torch bearers of the future, I can only drool at what they might come up with next. Two quality albums back to back is no mean feat.

5 battles

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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