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First+Aid - Nostradamus CD (album) cover

NOSTRADAMUS

First+Aid

 

Symphonic Prog

3.18 | 25 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars It is obvious, from any standpoint, that First Aid was out of touch with what was fashionable in 1977. Had they recorded this album, say, five years prior perhaps things would have turned out differently for them. You see, their brand of pompous progressive rock was simply not in fashion anymore. I do not think that punk music should be seen as the sole reason for the decline in prog popularity but Sex Pistols and their comrades are generally seen as the conquerors of the musical landscape in the last few years of the 70's. Anyway, this review will not take any definite stand regarding that issue. Tally ho!

Pompousness. Just let that word sink in for a moment. What does it mean? In general the word is used in it's negative form, describing someone or something as totally distanced from reality, wound up in themselves and thus being anything but likeable. I guess that's a fair assessment. However, when it comes to prog the mere word sends shivers down my spine. Not shivers of dislike but rather of excitement. A part of prog is and must be pompous, larger than life, ambitious and visionary. And that is the meaning of the word, for me, regarding prog music. Yes, First Aid were pompous and gloripusly so. Taking inspiration from the old Nostradamus, the fortune teller or viewer of the future, what they created was a minor masterpiece of majestic progressive rock.

Starting with a spoken introduction, along with the winds and howls of time passing, one instantly gets the idea. This is not an album to take lightly. The concept and visions within are seriously meant. The title track with the chanting of dark voices and heavy musical approach is quite stunning. The vocals are very pleasant and the combination of dense keyboards and heavy guitar which then transforms into lighter textures before going back to heaviness is really brilliant. "The awful truth" is a piano led short piece of quite impressive complexity, preceding "By royal appointment", a sort of announcement piece. "Catherine" is a gentle, string laden thing which is a real beauty. Lush and jazz-folky, if you can imagine. "Two brothers" is yet again a quite dense and heavy piece with thick keyboards. Then comes the ending "The shape of things to come". This is really the big winner. Starting with a narrative voice and foreboding instrumentation, proclaiming doom and disaster, it turns into a majestic and powerful piece of progressive rock. Really heavy in a jazz-rock kind of way. It ends with Hitler serving us some nonsense before Churchill has a word or two aswell. Really effectful.

It's a pity they were out a bit too late, really. This is high quality progressive rock with ambition, vision and pompousness. A really satisfying slice of keyboard driven prog, heavy on the orchestration and rough touches, though highly accomplished and tightly performed. I really appreciate this album and think it is a great listen for anyone into older progressive rock from the glorious 70's.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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