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Believe - Yesterday Is A Friend CD (album) cover





3.99 | 166 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars The story of three of Poland's top prog bands - Riverside, Satellite, and Believe - appears to be one of 3 paths that converge in the wood. With Riverside's growls and more metallic aspects, not to mention their dotage to Porcupine Tree, they command a wider audience in the new millenium than a pure neo prog play such as Satellite. With "Into the Night", Satellite shifted into Riverside vein to considerable acclaim especially here, but it was a triumph of style over substance. Believe's debut was mostly a hard rock, grunge affair with distinct prog elements, and it largely failed to capture the prog audience even though it deserved far better.

Now we have Mirek Gil's band sounding like Riverside-lite on the first few dozen listens. I am not sure what has possessed me to play this non stop for the last month while cavorting about town, but it could be Gil's lovely and varied guitar work, Tomek Rozycki's versatile and powerful vocals, Satomi's often dominant and equally eclectic violin, the anthemic choruses, the pristine yet organic production, and the balance of acoustic and electric instrumentation. While "Hope to See Another Day" was a catharsis of pent up aggressive energy, "Yesterday is a Friend" adds an eclectic rainbow of emotions to the mix, which continues to challenge me and please me immensely. The hard rock elements are woven in, occasionally to some distraction, but mostly with taste and panache. If there is a general weakness to the work, it is that the track endings generally seem to occur without any inspiration or flourish at all. This may be intended as it seems to be characteristic of the whole CD.

The band has certainly toned down and incorporated a lot more folk elements, evidenced from the opening notes of "Time", whose chorus harkens back to the excellent and much softer Mr Gil album from 1997. "Tumor" begins harshly but mellows and features one of Gil's many ecstatic lead guitar solos, in which he evokes a romantic Robert Fripp, inducing purrs and chirps from his instrument and goosebumps from the listener.

The album picks up a notch in the middle, with 3 numbingly beautiful songs. Of particular note are the inspired flute sections on "What they Want", the indigenous chants and sublime organ lead on "Mystery is Closer" and the delicate acoustics of "You & me" ratcheted a few notches by yet another master display by Gil.

"Danny had a Neighbour" is the weakest number, and is disturbing on a variety of levels, but not in a good way. The album returns to strength with "Memories" that includes a buildup to yet another memorable chorus, and "Unfaithful", which reminds me of Opeth's softer moments. The closing track and its philosophical musings are a perfect bridge to the future, which promises to be as friendly as yesterday if we can just bring ourselves to believe.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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