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Røsenkreütz - Back To The Stars CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.90 | 57 ratings

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4 stars As with many albums I buy, I picked up Røsenkreütz with only a cursory listen. There are so many new artists these days, often individuals playing every instrument and recording at home, and I find it overwhelming to sample so many new recordings as I see them posted on Facebook prog pages and at the same time underwhelming as it becomes difficult to pick out someone who sounds different, who isn't just writing generic modern prog (oxymoron?). So after listening for a few short moments on YouTube, I decided to give this artist a shot, hoping I would at least grow to like the music.

At first I was not quite so impressed. By the time the album arrived, I was into thrash and death metal and so I listened once to be sure the disc had no defects and then set it aside. But once I put it on a couple of weeks later, it had my attention, mainly due to the incredible title track. But before I go there, please allow me to introduce the rest of the album.

There has been a lot said about prog bands these days trying to recapture or recreate the styles and sounds of classic prog and comparatively little attention given to the eighties and nineties. Røsenkreütz seems to be of the mind that the eighties mattered, even though their PA bio says they show a strong love for British seventies prog. The first five songs, especially "Conditioning" and "Childish Reaction" sound more like latter-half 1980's pop rock tunes with an even balance of synth-heavy European dance pop akin to what I'd imagine from Dead or Alive, hard rock/almost hair metal à la Europe, and an upbeat crossover prog style that's great to listen to when your mood is ready for swinging your arms and snapping your fingers. The opening track "Signals in the Water" also fits this description though I did feel some similarities to Supertramp in the music in parts, most likely because I have been listening to three of Supertramp's classic albums recently.

"Nothing More in You" begins with a female vocalist, Angela Merlin, and piano and once the male vocals come in, it feels like it will develop into a very attractive duet. The song leans more toward the male vocals as it progresses and there is still a strong post seventies feel to the music, much more modern. I guess I should say here that although this is not my usual choice in music style, it is very well written, arranged and performed and the recording quality is excellent. In recent days I have been sure to add this album to album playlists that include more heavy-guitar oriented music.

My two favourite tracks are "Sitting on the Edge of Heaven" and the title track. "Sitting on the Edge" begins with some Spanish-style acoustic guitar and some traditional percussion (by that I mean not a drum set). Then it gives us this bold, anthemic musical theme that resembles something of the more pop and pomp offerings of Blackmore's Night. There's an incredible A cappella vocal break that jumps in abruptly and then the song goes hard rock for a bit. At just over eight minutes, the music really moves and changes, coming back to the lighter acoustic beginning.

At last we have the title track, "Back to the Stars". If Røsenkreütz are fans of seventies prog then this is where it shows through the best. The song is 17:32 long and is a bit like "Supper's Ready" in that there is a story behind the lyrics (an astronaut who returns to earth and finds everyone has disappeared, then reflects on some memories, and finally talks about his return to the stars) and the song is a clever stitching together of several musical ideas. The beginning with its beautiful piano and strings and soul-stirring vocal melody are easily one of the most ear- catching parts of the album. Then responding on cue, the song suddenly switches to organ, drums and guitar and takes us into classic prog territory. The music keeps changing and changing again. There are instrumental passages that conjure up memories of Yes, ELP, and Genesis as well as Saga, KariBow, and Spock's Beard. No doubt other progheads will find more bands that compare, most likely in 90's neoprogressive groups. After a series of different stages, the song returns to its sweet beginning as our protagonist announces that he is now truly heading home, back to the stars. This is one very enjoyable piece of 17 minutes plus of song and music!

I almost forgot to mention the cover of "I am the Walrus". It is rather good I feel as the music stays within the sound/style parameters established by the rest of the album but still maintains enough sincere adherence to the original that the song is not basterdized. Some may choose to disagree and I do notice that the song still stands apart from the rest of the album, but I think it's a nice touch.

Though a little light on the prog side at times, there is some excellent music on this album with two tracks really standing out for me but the rest also being worth listening too as the whole album plays front to back. Four very solid stars!

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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