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Echolyn - As The World CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 286 ratings

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4 stars On their 1995 release AS THE WORLD, U.S. outfit Echolyn have convincingly rekindled the torch formerly borne by their English forebears Gentle Giant. To attempt to follow in the gargantuan footsteps of such distinguished progressive luminaries would be an audacious move, and doomed to failure, if Echolyn were only average musicians and songwriters. Yet, on this fine album, Echolyn demonstrate that they possess the goods to carry it off; their ambitious creative reach does not exceed their musical grasp!

Most, if not all of the elements that made Gentle Giant so appealing to their fervent fans are delightfully present here, from breathtaking vocal harmonies and acrobatics, sudden time changes, superb musicianship and great guitar and keyboards, to diverse song structures and intelligent lyrics. In fact, perhaps the only thing lacking, when Echolyn are compared to their progenitors, is the sheer trail-blazing uniqueness that "Giant" represented. Still, when one considers that Gentle Giant's creative peak had passed some twenty years before the release of AS THE WORLD, many of the original's more ardent and open-minded followers will be eager for a new serving from a similar menu. Nor are Echolyn content to merely mimic their chief source of inspiration. Instead, they have imparted their own flavours and nuances to the mix, such as lush orchestration to further sweeten the pot.

That orchestration is put to particularly good effect on the lovely closing track. There are no "dud" songs here, but "Never the Same" is perhaps my favourite of a very strong set. The moving and thoughtful lyrics deal with no lesser theme than that of life and its inevitable end. As we are all mortal, and have to face the loss of loved ones, I believe the following lines from the chorus to be worthy of reproduction:

"Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there -- I did not die. I say to you I will see you again on the other side, some day. After the song is over, the dance goes on, so dance away. When all has been said and done, remember what's been given -- not taken away...."

Thus, I give the excellent AS THE WORLD a rating of four stars, and urge the curious to check out the band's MP3s which are available here (including "How Long I Have Waited," from the album currently under review). It is also noteworthy, as an additional incentive to the reluctant, that the disc offers sixteen tracks, and over seventy minutes of quality listening. That's a rather generous helping, and a lot of challenging music to absorb in a single sitting, but there is nothing to stop the listener from spreading the experience out over two or three sessions. As with chicken wings, pizza or beer, I for one would prefer to have more than I immediately need, rather than not enough: the leftovers will be just as tasty and appreciated the next day! I heartily recommend AS THE WORLD to more adventurous and open-minded fans of progressive rock. A terrific album -- for my tastes!

Peter | 4/5 |


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