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This Winter Machine - The Man Who Never Was CD (album) cover


This Winter Machine



3.85 | 130 ratings

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4 stars Yet another debut album that proudly and boldly introduces its craft with an epic introduction, as is the case with British Neo-prog band This Winter Machine and their initial offering 'The Man Who Never Was'. The title track is a 4 part suite that suggests a clear admiration for the habitual legends of prog as well as the more recent adventurists that combine succinct musicianship, emotive melodies, effective lyrical content and a soaring vocal delivery that exudes class and style. The well-crafted piece provides glimpses into the individual talents on display, keyboardist Mark Numan showing a strong preference for piano (always a good sign), a potent bass player in Peter Priestly who enjoys partnering with drummer Marcus Murray and finally vocalist Al Wynter, whose voice certainly adds to the mix. Guitarist Gary Jevon completes the album line-up but it appears he has since left the band. Lyrically, the focus is on desolation, a serious sense of disconnect and identity crisis, themes that surely reflect the apathetic universe we live in today. There is an obvious adulation for Rush, though in my opinion, it does not lead to any attempt at cloning the sound of the mercurial Canadians. In fact, This Winter Machine proposes a softer touch, a deeply layered sound on which the various instruments can showcase their talents, dense symphonics and a concise vision of team work and crafting strong melodic structures.

The delectable 'The Wheel' is a prog ballad that has a bittersweet tinge that perpetuates the lonely continuum theme of this album, slowly shifting to a thundering shift of intensity, Wynter's voice attempting some Geddy-isms, shrieking appropriately while Jevon throttles his axe and Priestly worms relentlessly on the low end. Drummer Murray is no two-beat wimp, thumping and propelling like a man possessed. The piece ends into a delirious upward vortex of agony.

Fittingly, a denser touch appears with 'Lullaby (Interrupted)', a sumptuous intermezzo that bestows some bombastic symphonics on a very accomplished melody, bullied by a riffing guitar bulldozer, manic synth loopings and a heavier demeanor. As befitting any good instrumental, it shifts high and low, up and down the emotional scale, slipping from serenity to sizzle.

The agonizing beauty of 'After Tomorrow Comes' has a distinct Scorpions-like feel, Wynter doing a great rendition with a softer tone not far removed from Klaus Meine or Ronnie James Dio, as the lavish piano ripples delicately and the clanging guitars chime in unison. The pain of a broken union has been a perennial source of mankind's unrelenting search for stability and understanding, assaulted by all those characteristics that make us all human: guilt, disappointment, frustration, ego and desperation. 'Nothing seems to matter', indeed! Terrific song!

And as always, the slow pathway towards healing, of moving forward and somehow finding resolution, is found on the final piece 'Fractured', where both the jagged guitar and the histrionic synthesizers combine to underline the eventual liberation, the courageous bass showing the route that lays ahead, Wynter pleading with a level of impassioned sophistication that can only impress even the most jaded misanthrope. A compelling curtain drop on an entirely satisfying release, hopefully with many more to come.

The cover art is stunning, if not outright spooky, a frozen telephone booth and one of the riders of the apocalypse walking away in apparent dismay, a fox and an owl as the only witnesses, apparently symbols of wisdom in Celtic lore. There is always hope. Always!

4 Who Whos

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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