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Preacher - Aftermath CD (album) cover

AFTERMATH

Preacher

 

Crossover Prog

3.86 | 54 ratings

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FabricationsHQ
4 stars Signals, the 2013 debut album from Scottish melodic progressives Preacher, was a noteworthy first venture that got a deserved remastered re-release via IME Records in 2015.

Three years on from those sonic Signals first being detected Preacher have broadened their sound, shaken off their Pink Floyd shackles (a few songs on the debut found themselves turning to the Dark Side) and delivered Aftermath, an incredibly confident and contemporary progressive melodic rock album that nods to, rather than borrows from, their Floydian (and to a lesser degree David Bowie) influences.

At the core of Preacher are the triumvirate of lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter Martin Murphy, keyboardist Arnold "Arny" Burgoyne and lead guitarist Greg Murphy, son of Martin Murphy (a prodigious talent, the younger Murphy is a self-taught musician who can finger-flex across a fretboard as comfortably as he can deliver emotive or melodic phrasing).

Drummer Iain Duncan and bassist Gordon Munro (the latter joining the band post-Signals) hold rhythmic court and create the solid foundation that Aftermath is built upon; Angela Bell and Kerry McWhinnie, an integral part of Preacher's layered sound, provide vocal harmonies and tonal colour.

Preacher's sophomore outing opens in atmospheric style with the title track. Leading with a simple piano refrain and accompanying guitar remarks the song builds to a more full-bodied soundscape with both the backing singers and lead guitar in full cry, the latter's melodically wailing notes echoing the lyrical emphasis of the need for change.

'Aftermath' also carries the sort of dynamic that would make for a strong closing statement but the track sets up much of what follows ' many of the songs lyrically express the struggles of modern life and the current state of global affairs (the underlying message is "better get our house in order before it's too late").

Following the 'Aftermath' comes, somewhat appropriately, 'Welcome to the Fray.' A brooding mid-tempo Pink Floyd meets contemporary rock piece, 'Welcome to the Fray' decries the modern world and global power struggles with some fittingly angry but melodically charged guitar bursts from Greg Murphy (and cool little organ interjections from Arnold Burgoyne).

The regimented drum introduction of 'War' sets up both the militaristic rhythm of the song and its battle-scarred lines ("I see a glow in the distance, the buildings burned to the floor'") before an uplifting final few bars and hopeful lyric bring the song, and the hostilities, to a more optimistic conclusion.

'Hold On' changes the pace once again (building from a piano and vocal opening to a layered sound of keyboard fills, backing vocals and big drum sound) before keyboard sprinkled, pseudo-funky 'Vinyl' grooves (pun intended) create an outstanding slice of progressively-led melodic rock that's as contemporary as the pre-digital age reflections of the lyrics are nostalgic. For all the strength of Aftermath across its opening five numbers the album positively shines on its closing quartet of tracks.

'Vision' is a breezy, pleasant departure for the band. A dreamy, soft rock arrangement sets the scene before a jazzy, 70s styled instrumental section picks up the tempo; Arnold Burgoyne's spray of keyboard notes scatter across Iain Duncan and Gordon Munro's simple but effective groove before Greg Murphy's guitar licks kick in to bring the number to its spacey conclusion.

Creating a similar vibe is the mid-tempo 'Sleep;' it too features an instrumental closing section but this time in full- band rock mode with Greg Murphy throwing melodic shapes over the harmony backing vocals and drum flourishes.

'War Reprise' is an alternative view of the 'War' that's already taken place, seen through the eyes of a man caught up in the fray through no choice of his own. Martin Murphy's lyrics certainly carry weight ("a day feels like a lifetime, being here against my will") but the true strength of the primarily instrumental number lies in the poignancy of the extended soloing from Greg Murphy, in complete melodic empathy with the emotion of the song.

The atmospheric and lyrically contemplative 'Always' closes out the album in fine style, marred only by the fact the up-tempo closing section, driven by some feisty six-string bursts from Greg Murphy, fades all too soon. Signals built from quiet, introductory beginnings to a powerful and assured musicality that was hard to ignore.

The same can now be said of Preacher who should suffer nothing but positive consequences in the wake of this particular Aftermath.

FabricationsHQ | 4/5 |

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