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Steamhammer - MK II  CD (album) cover

MK II

Steamhammer

 

Crossover Prog

4.04 | 47 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars Listening to their first album "Reflection" and then putting on "MK II" you are quite amazed to hear the steps that have been taken in just a short while, seeing both albums released the same year. The debut album by Steamhammer sees a blues rock band with a jazzy inclination but their second effort shows a band that matured rapidly and had begun fusing together elements to what can rightly be called progressive rock. On this album they adopt a style that sees comparisons with the likes of Colosseum, adding brass and horns. Thus fusing folk, jazz, blues, rock and then some into a handsome and stylish prog album.

The change is evident on the opener "Supposed to be free" which is a real gem but it doesn't stop there. It just keeps on going. "Johnny Carl Morton" is the second track and the first one that, I think, really shows some genuine complexity. A forceful, cembalo driven piece with a sometime Comus-esque vocals, if that makes sense. "Sunset chase" is hauntingly beautiful little instrumental piece preceding the great and magnificent blues number "COntemporary chick con song". Although that track isn't particularily progressive it's still one hell of a song. "Turn around" is flute heaven and here tou get flowing jazzy stuff with a great folky bottom.

I dislike all comparisons to Jethro Tull as soon as there is a flute around but the song "6/8 for Amiran" sounds alot like something from "Stand up". It would not surprise me one bit if Steamhammer had been listening to Tull. I mean, who wouldn't? "Passing through" is great song with a wonderful melody line. "Down along the grove" is a short instrumental piece that sees them exploring a folky, almost medieval path. And then it hits you, the 16 minute long "epic" of the album. Wonderful flute opens the whole thing, before a great guitar riff and then you're off. It's very much a jamming sensation to the proceedings but what a jam! It's one of those songs that just keeps you going, wanting it to last forever.

Apart from the superb musicianship, the progressive steps taken and wonderful vocals I have always been struck by the enormous warmth and love that pours out of the speakers (or headphones) when I listen to this album. It is gentle, it is rough and always warm and inviting. There is something very special about Steamhammer that I find not very many bands can or have been able to provide. What that is? Hard to say. It lies hidden in the performance, a subtlety, a je ne sais quoi.

Anyway, a great album and a certain must for anyone who has any interest in early progressive rock, from a time when the genre barely existed as an entity. A time when genres was mixed, fused and blended and perfected into something very unique and exciting. If Colosseum, Jethro Tull and that sort of bands are to your taste I will bet that you'll find a whole lot to discover and cherish here.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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