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Advent - Silent Sentinel CD (album) cover

SILENT SENTINEL

Advent

 

Eclectic Prog

3.76 | 97 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars This album has such better sound recording and engineering than their previous work, 2006's Canuts Firmus. As a matter of fact, it is the clarity of the instrumental recording that makes this album so special, so engaging. Everything is a couple of steps better than their previous album--which I liked. Cantus Firmus showed so much potential. Silent Sentinel is fulfilling a great deal of that potential. The multi-voiced vocal harmony weaves are sometimes quite ingenious and complex (very similar to some of the best of GENTLE GIANT like on "His Last Voyage" or "A Reunion") but they can also be just as often sounding like the lame straightforward harmonies of the 1980s band ASIA or 1980s YES. In my opinion, the album's "weakness" and strength are one in the same: Guitarist Alan BENJAMIN's penchant (and/or reverence) for imitation of the guitar sounds and stylings of Steve HACKETT's circa 1973 (Foxtrot). His imitation is flawless, but, in my opinion, unnecessarily so. Even his acoustic guitar pieces--which I adore--are so full of Hackettisms. But the electric work is where it goes too far; there is just no need to be that true to another man's sound and style--especially a sound that was limited by 1973's recording limitations.

My favorite songs are the most scaled down: the brilliant church/Renaissance-like "On the Wings of an Ant" series "(verses 1, 2, & 3)" (2:16), (2:20) and (7:09), respectively (10/10); the acoustic guitar solo pieces, 6. "Reloj de Sol" (2:35), "12_12" (2:39), and 11. "Second Thoughts" (2:21). Song 8. "The Silent Sentinel" (19:11) is about as good as an epic GENESIS tribute or imitation gets (9/10). Song 5. "The Uncharted Path" (6:22) (9/10) captures the wonderful old-feeling GENTLE GIANT-like sound and the upbeat and humorous BEACH BOYS-like 4. "Voices from California" (7:34) (9/10) is also quite enjoyable.

The opening of the title song is about as promising as any song I've heard in a long time: awesome instrument choices (organ, harpsichord,12-string acoustic guitars, tuned percussion, occasional background keyboard washes, and, of course, eventually, GENTLE GIANT choral like multi-voice vocal arrangements), incredible chord sequences and melodies, and the incredible gentle voice of the lead singer. And this continues for a good five minutes before things start to falter or lose their focus and get a bit muddled. Actually, it's the arrival of the electric guitar at 5:20 that turns me out. The near-faultless imitation of sound and style of said guitar to those of one Steve HACKETT circa 1973 are equally--sorry to say--distracting. And then the section that begins in the seventh minute is too much like a GENESIS replication, note for note, chord for chord, and, especially, sound for sound. The KARDA ESTRA-like "mysterious interlude" beginning at 8:25 is interesting--especially for the "Entangled" sound that arises within it 75 seconds later. The return of the Steve Hackett guitar at 11:38 bodes not well for the song's further progress. It's just too Steve Hackett! The ensuing solo vocal is a nice bridge to some heavier music beginning in the fifteenth minute and continuing while alternating with some Kerry MINNEAR/ MANHATTAN TRANSFER-like vocal arrangements through the next few minutes. In short, the song "The Silent Sentinel" is a microcosm of all that is wonderful as well as all that is flawed with this beguiling Advent album. I truly love and respect the band's progress and growth. I hope that they will continue to work together and that they will continue to discover and hone their own sound. Still, this is a solid four star album--one that I can happily recommend to all prog lovers. Impeccable quality in sound, construction and melody. Pick it up and listen to it for yourselves: I am CERTAIN you will find a few gems for your self on this exciting album.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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