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King Crimson - The Power To Believe CD (album) cover

THE POWER TO BELIEVE

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 842 ratings

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Raff
Prog Reviewer
4 stars After the misfire that was "The ConstruKction of Light", the mighty Crims return to form with what is probably their best studio effort after 1981's "Discipline". Tighter, more cohesive and more accomplished than the otherwise excellent "Thrak", it features longer tracks which alternate between the band's trademark jagged, metallic sound, and softer, more rarefied atmospheres, in the mould set by their groundbreaking "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" in 1973. As a matter of fact, even if only Fripp remains of that legendary line-up, "The Power to Believe" seems to take up from where LTiA, SaBB and "Red" had left off, dispensing with the new-wave and world-music influences that characterised the trio of albums released in the early Eighties.

A thread runs through the album in the shape of the four-part title track, starting with the a cappella intro sung by Belew in a soothing, mellifluous falsetto. A brief pause, the calm before the electric storm that is "Level Five" - a complex, crushingly heavy instrumental that numbers among the best ever KC compositions, and a real treat for guitar lovers everywhere, studded with Fripp's and Belew's angular, structured riffing. Then, as it often happens with KC albums, the mood shifts suddenly with the haunting, sophisticated ballad "Eyes Wide Open", which is somewhat reminiscent of some of the band's Eighties output, and proves to the world that Adrian Belew is indeed a vocalist to be reckoned with.

"Elektrik", probably the least cohesive instrumental on the album, a sprawling composition which hinges on the 'duel' between the two guitars and the rhythm section, is followed by the vocal tour de force that is "Facts of Life", underpinned by Fripp's massively distorted guitar lines. Belew's forceful, aggressive singing matches the music and the wacky lyrics; while the third 'conventional' song on the album, "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With", a fine example of hard rock KC-style, boasts an almost infectious chorus based on the entertaining, tongue-twisting title.

Of the other instrumentals, "Dangerous Curves" builds up slowly and hypnotically in a way that is vaguely reminiscent of "The Devil's Triangle" on ITWOP, and leads to a powerful, "Bolero"-like crescendo. "The Power to Believe II" contains snippets of processed vocals which seem to float eerily amid the ambient-tinged, intensely atmospheric music, featuring the haunting sound of tubular bells; the remaining two parts share the same mood, which becomes increasingly spacey towards the end. The album comes then full circle, closing with the same soothing melody that had introduced it.

It may not come as a surprise that fans of the 'symphonic' stage of KC's career are not exactly enthusiastic about the evolution of the band. However, no one could ever deny the genuinely progressive nature of the Crims, a rare example of an outfit that, in the 35-odd years of their career, have never looked backwards, as well as being immensely influential for the development of many modern prog bands. Even if "The Power to Believe" may not be exactly easy on the ear, it is a more than rewarding, highly recommended listen for those prog fans who are up for a challenge.

Raff | 4/5 |

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