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Thinking Plague - Hoping Against Hope CD (album) cover

HOPING AGAINST HOPE

Thinking Plague

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.09 | 49 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The last THINKING PLAGUE album I enjoyed this much was "In Extremis" and while I don't rate this one quite that high this has been such a pleasant surprise for me. I found the previous album "Decline And Fall" difficult to digest but this one was love at first listen and that love continues to grow after many listens. My first listen of this album was like meeting an old friend, I was pretty happy. Elaine Di Falco is back on vocals and we get the usual dark atmospheres with plenty of horns, mostly sax and clarinets of different varieties along with accordion, bassoon, flute and the usual "rock" instruments.

"The Echoes Of Their Cries" opens with a dark atmosphere as piano, bass, drums and more come and go before vocals and a steady sound arrive a minute in. Some nice guitar follows as the vocals step aside quickly. Soon drums, horns and many intricate sounds fill the air. A calm before 2 minutes then Elaine is back singing. Her vocals are stronger at 3 1/2 minutes, love the instrumental work here. So good. A dark calm around 4 1/2 minutes but then it kicks back in quickly, vocal melodies too. I like the accordion in this one from Elaine.

"Thus Have We Made The World" is dark and atmospheric until it kicks in with bass and drums. Man this sounds amazing, really powerful as horns and many intricate sounds also help out. So impressive! Outbursts of sound come and go 2 minutes in before a calm arrives at 2 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in before another calm arrives at 3 1/2 minutes. Love these contrasts. Eerie sounds before 5 minutes and beyond and check out that bass.

"Commuting To Murder" starts off sounding too light to be THINKING PLAGUE then Elaine arrive singing followed by a more typical THINKING PLAGUE sound after a minute with the bass and drums kicking in. A calm follows then check out the bass 2 minutes in! Sax follows then guitar before the vocals return. Accordion after 3 1/2 minutes as the vocals stop. Such an impressive instrumental section here. It's lighter again around 4 minutes like the intro as it ends like it began.

"Hoping Against Hope" is an incredible track. Again heavy and dark is the way I'd describe the start with oboe over top I believe. Vocals after a minute and when she stops singing we get an amazing section beginning 2 minutes in. She's back but whispering this time then singing a minute later. She doesn't sing for long each time and again I love the instrumental passages on this one. It picks up after 4 minutes with piano, horns, bass and drums. It's building as we get some excellent guitar, drums and more. Another calm 6 1/2 minutes in and soon bassoon arrives(yeah it does!). This is dark as vocals return before 8 minutes. Shuffling drums, flute and more end it. What a song!

"The Great Leap" features Simon Steensland on bass which is very cool. Another melancholic piece with vocals. Gloomy is the word. Some power before 2 1/2 minutes but it's brief as the vocals return.

"A Dirge For The Unwitting" is the almost 14 minute closer and it doesn't deviate from the sound that has gone on before thankfully. Yes "dirge" is a good description of a lot of what we hear on this album. This is fairly slow moving with some outbursts. Nice bass work and I like the sax. It calms right down at 3 minutes and it doesn't start to build until after 6 minutes then it kicks in before 7 minutes. It settles back again quickly. Vocals arrive 8 minutes in followed by some avant guitar lines before 9 minutes. It settles again with vocals and eerie sounds. It picks up again 12 minutes in with a lot of depressing sounds(haha). I love it!

This is where I start to compile my "best of" list for 2017 as I was waiting for that first 2017 album to really wow me. I am almost giddy about this one, just how dark and atmospheric it is. Yes the best since "In Extremis" in my opinion. Mike Johnson is so freaking talented but then so is the whole band. Check out the album art as well. This is first class all the way.

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |

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