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Coalition - Bridge Across Time CD (album) cover

BRIDGE ACROSS TIME

Coalition

 

Neo-Prog

4.03 | 13 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Early on in the year, someone in this band asked me if I would be interested in getting a pre-release listen to this album. I jumped on the opportunity with a big "Yes, please!" I'm not so far up the food chain that I get many pre- release listens. I listened and listened again. And again. I began to formulate a review ready for when the big day arrived.

And then nothing happened.

Months went by, and one day I saw a track from this album was included on a playlist for someone's prog radio program. I sent out an inquiry: was the album to be released soon? A reply came from two of the members stating that they didn't know when. How odd. Here was an album complete and sounding great and it was hiding out in a shoe box in someone's home.

Well, at last I saw the announcement on PA and after checking the band's web site, I learned that the album is to be officially released on October 7th.

So what's so great about it? Well, let's see, we've got Blake Carpenter on vocals. You might have heard of him on the Minstrel's Ghost album "Road to Avalon" or perhaps as a guest on the Corvus Stone albums. Or maybe even you heard him singing on Petri Lindstrom's recent solo project digital album "Hail to Sabbath". Then there's Colin Tench on guitars. He just released his marvelous Colin Tench Project "Hair in a G-String" on September 30th but you've likely also heard him play on a number of albums and recordings this year, not to mention Corvus Stone. Then there's Steve Gresswell who is the captain of this ship. Not only does he play drums, bass, and keyboards but he's also responsible for all the orchestration on this album. You'll hear lots of brass and strings here and, hey, that reminds me, Steve did the orchestration for CTP's opening track, Part 1 of "Hair in a G-String"!

I get the impression that this is a concept album of sorts. From what I gather, the lyrics tell of seeking that higher place, shedding the old life and being reborn. With song titles like "Labyrinth", "Land of Dreams", "Lost Soul" and "Valley of Shadows", you'd think it's a pretty serious and sombre album. But most of the music is rather upbeat and carries a positive vibe.

The majority of the songs are over eight minutes long with only one falling under seven minutes. Musically, there's a lot going on here and often there's not only the band in full motion but extra guitars and keyboards plus operatic vocals both male and female, a string section, and some punchy brass ("The River" has some great brass going for it!). The music also can be surprising as it can take you along on a smooth journey with a standard meter and then abruptly switch tempo and time. The album features a number of these more challenging musical moments, and Colin, who had to provide all the guitars for this album, has claimed that it was very difficult at times. He has, however, pulled off yet another stellar performance, placing notes in all the right spots with never a note wasted or wanting. It's his ability to play so well to music that keeps getting him invited to appear on albums.

Blake Carpenter's vocals are quite good. I do feel he sounds his best with Minstrel's Ghost but he sure sings well here, too. He does have a particular style and sound which can get a little long at times. It's these moments I would welcome some singing in his lower range which we do get. Sometimes I feel the challenge of singing to this music is forcing him to strain for some of the notes. He gets them mind you. But I feel a need to come back down after with something a little more comfortable for the vocal chords.

The album is very enjoyable to listen to and many of the songs have ear-arresting parts. If I have any criticism it's that the atmosphere of the album remains more or less constant. There's a bit of piano to introduce "Land of Dreams" and "The River" plus sound effects like walking feet and bird song, but once the music gets going there is a similar sound and feeling. We have Blake's vocals, Colin's relentless lead guitar work, and Steve giving us keyboards, bass, and drums along with all those extra layers of instruments and music, and sometimes it just has me hoping for a bigger surprise. Yes, there are some pleasant surprises along the way, however, overall the album is very coherent in its lyrical and musical themes, and perhaps at times almost too much so for its own good. Of course that is probably what Steve Gresswell was going for. I'd personally prefer a little more variety.

Nevertheless, all the high points beat out any low points. I'll be ordering the CD after payday!

FragileKings | 4/5 |

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