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Steamhammer - Speech CD (album) cover

SPEECH

Steamhammer

 

Crossover Prog

3.27 | 39 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars Steamhammer released a total of four albums. The first being a sort of jazzy blues rock one. The next two, "MKII" and "Mountains" were steeped more in the jazz-rock mould, giving it all a much more progressive feel. And then they released "Speech". If you know anything about Steamhammer but haven't heard this one you are in for quite a surprise. My first Steamhammer album was "Mountains" and I was enthralled by it's warm, progressive jazz-rock thing. So, when I bought this one in my early 20's and put it on I was in for a completely different ride alltogether.

First let me tell you, I adore the cover art. It's simply amazing. Dark and brooding and with an imagery rather hard to fathom. But it fits the music perfectly and that is somewhat the whole point with album covers, don't you think?

So, on to the music. The intro to the first track, the 23 minutes long "Penumbra", is the most sinister, foreboding, scary I have ever heard. It puts the norwegian black metal bands to shame. And yet at the same time it is also one of the most intriguing and loveable intros I have ever heard. Listen to it with headphones in a dark room. There's a sunday treat, if there ever was one. When the intro grinds to a halt after 3 minutes and 20 seconds a harsh, cold and brutal guitar riff comes into being and you are served a nice slice of early hard rock that is heavy, fast and furious. It's like you hear a band falling apart in the studio, trying to kill each other with an immense barrage of energy. FIve minutes in to the piece comes a calmer section with vocals. I love this part. I l-o-v-e it! What am I listening to? Am I standing at the entrance of hell? Has doomsday arrived? Are these the final days? And then the riffing comes back. Different but with the same feeling of frustration and energetic charge. After that has passed you find you're self in a different landscape where a bluesy hard rock riff takes the center stage. Everything then heads for a climatic ending with instrumentation and a roar resembling a dying whale. Or something to that effect. I have always loved the first track. An epic? Well, I suppose so. An epic of darkness.

"Telegram", the second track, is a bluesy hard rock affair that rhythmically is askew and slightly off the wall without going totally bonkers. Also a fantastic piece, constructed in a similar fashion to "Penumbra", only half as long and not quite as intimidating. The last track "For against" gives us a somewhat organized noise with off the wall riffing and a drum solo. Not the finest piece on the album but a good one nevertheless. The drum solo tends to drag on for just a bit too long.

All in all I find that this album is, probably, the most progressive of the four Steamhammer made during a three year period. That is not to say it's their best one but it is certainly a very interesting album and extremely enjoyable. Somewhat underappreciated, scorned and misunderstood I think it deserves to be heard more and loved more. A great prog album bearing both compexity and furious energy. I only wish they had stayed together and made another one. God knows what that would have sounded like but I am positive that it would be a wonderful album, as all four albums by the band are.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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