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Citizen Cain - Serpents In Camouflage CD (album) cover


Citizen Cain


Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 102 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After many years of struggle from the early 80s and the gravitating demise of the band's original line- up, it seemed that Citizen Cain's was sealed before the band even had the chance to release an album. Luckily, the arrival of keyboardist/composer Stewart Bell became the catalyst for Citizen Cain's survival, eventually leading to the recording and release of the debut effort "Serpents in Camouflage", back in 1993. With Bell as the main melody writer, Cyrus felt free to develop long apocalyptical lyrics and explore his gusto for Gabriel-like singing (the best Gabriel emulator in British neo-prog, indeed), also leaving his bassist's role behind in favour of the flute. The resulting quintet managed to recapture the Gabriel-era Genesis sound without neglecting the need of creating appealing compositions and developing effective arrangements that justify the usually long durations. The strong presence of atmospheric keyboard layers and the band's global dynamics actually feels closer to Fish-era Marillion and/or 80s IQ than to classic Genesis, with the lead guitarist showing off influences from Hackett, Rothery and Latimer, depending on the moment's mood. The recording sessions were not without their amount of problems - the drummer's unavailability at this crucial moment in the band's history led to CC using a programmed drumming machine (alternating 4/4, 3/4, 7/8 and 5 /4 tempos in pure symphonic fashion!), and even when the album was actually released, the line-up was on the brink of disintegrating. While not as spectacular as the amazing successor "Somewhere but Yesterday" (the best Genesis album never recorded between "The Lamb" and "A Trick"), "Serpents in Camouflage. certainly reveals a band with enough potential as to preserve the candle of symphonic rock through the 90s, a thing eventually confirmed by further releases. well, let's stick to this specific album. 'Stab in the Back' gets things started as a mixture of Marillion's 'He Knows, You Know' and Genesis' 'I Know What I Like', leaning closer to the former's sombre cynicism. Even though this track doesn't comprise rhythmic variations and is less than 7 minutes long, it bears a certain epic aura to it - a great opener it is, indeed. The epic factor comes out in full frontal doses in the next three pieces. 'Liquid Kings' states a more colourful vibe, from the long instrumental intro through the sequence of sung sections; the same goes for 'The Gathering', which actually delivers a fresher approach to the most aggressive side of neo- prog. Between the two is 'Harmless Criminal', where we find a predominant room for lyrical introspectiveness and eerie ambiences: the track's coda states a certain increase of its potential intensity. Fully lyrical is 'Dance of the Unicorn', featuring lovely flute passages and a strong classic symphonic prog feature (as opposed to neo). Well, the album's official repertoire ends with the title track, yet another epic that spectacularly exploits the sorts of moods and climaxes that had been present in epics 2-4: the extended closing section 'Serpents in Camouflage' comprises the most exciting things of 80s British new wave of symphonic prog with its catchy recurrent motif, fluid guitar and synth leads and enthusiastic vocal lines (The serpents have died in camouflage!). The bonus tracks include a real drum kit: one is the demo version of 'Stab in the Back' and the other is a catchy tune that might have been an interesting 4-minute single back in the early 80s alongside Marillion's 'Punch & Judy' or Genesis' 'Turn It On Again'. Overall grade for Citizen Cain's debut album: 3 stars, that is, almost totally excellent, more than just good.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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