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Iamthemorning - The Bell CD (album) cover

THE BELL

Iamthemorning

 

Crossover Prog

3.89 | 196 ratings

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tempest_77
5 stars The Bell is another excellent release from the Russian modern prog group. Iamthemorning's "~" is one of my favorite modern prog albums, and with this release they do not disappoint. The album is filled with their usual folk-infused moments, along with a few of the more electric moments off of Lighthouse. The bulk of the album is filled with tracks of a shorter length, more typical to their debut album than either of their more recent albums. This does not, however, detract from their strength. The lyrics are much darker than much of their previous work, which works wonderfully in contrast with the light quality of the music.

"Freak Show" is a great, emotionally charged piece that starts of mellow but quickly builds in intensity. Right off the bat with this track, we can tell that Semkina's vocals are stronger than ever on this album. There's some great interplay between the piano, the string ensemble, and the guitars (both electric and acoustic) on this song. Probably the strongest track on the album, I love the contrast of the mellow moments with the real intensity of the electric guitars.

"Sleeping Beauty" is a much shorter track than "Freak Show", but is still very enjoyable. It's a fairly through-composed track, with some beautiful moments and a great complex piano outro.

"Blue Sea" is the shortest track on the album, clocking in at 3:08. It is an acoustic-centered track with some great embellishments from Kolyadin on piano. There's a great choral background in this piece as well, showcasing Semkina's voice even when she isn't singing the lyrics.

"Black and Blue" starts off with a sparse electric piano part under Semkina's vocals. There's some really wonderful production on this album in general; the vocals in particular on this song have some beautiful reverb on them. It's a fairly simple track which riffs on the same idea throughout but continues to build in intensity.

"Six Feet" starts off with a jazzy piano part, a bit of a contrast to Kolyadin's usual piano work, though he quickly brings the classical influence into it. There are some really wild harmonic choices that he makes on this track, which I think really add a lot to it. At a point where I was getting a little tired of the mellow style of the past few songs, it grabs my attention again, but not in the way I exactly expected.

"Ghost of a Story" starts off the same way many of these songs do, with piano, vocals, and some strings, but quickly builds into something else. About a minute into the song, it turns into a fairly composed folk-prog piece, almost like Jethro Tull in style if not for the focus on the piano. It really is something different from the past few songs, and is a nice change of pace.

"Song of Psyche" brings back the focus on the acoustic guitar from "Blue Sea", before turning back to piano for the chorus. Like "Blue Sea", it's a fairly simple track compared to what's around it, but it's a nice break from the complexity of the previous songs.

"Lilies" opens with a rapid-fire piano part, setting us up for a more intense climax than the bulk of what's come before it. This tension is held throughout the whole song, however, with the piano certainly building in intensity but never releasing into a full band moment, so we don't get the payoff of it until the following track.

"Salute" also begins with a fairly intense piano part, picking up where the tension of the previous track left off. However, the track soon introduces acoustic guitar alongside it, setting us up for a climax that we didn't get in the previous track, and indeed the track quickly adds more instruments. There's a bizarre circus-like feeling that the song gives us in several sections; in fact, the whole song is a bit of a whirlwind of a ride before we finally get the release of tension about five minutes into the piece with a lead guitar part.

"The Bell" closes out the album with its title track. A fairly calm introduction sets us up for more mellow ending than many prog albums choose to take. It's a very lovely track to close with, as Semkina has some massive and lush vocal harmonies over Kolyadin's beautiful piano playing. After the extensive instrumentation of "Salute", it's a nice touch to end the album with just the two primary members of the band.

All in all, The Bell takes the band's experimentation with electric sound on Lighthouse and combines it with the more acoustic, folk-based formula of their debut album, making for what might be their strongest album yet. It feels like an album that requires more than one listen to fully appreciate it, but I already enjoyed it quite a bit after just one listen. 9/10, but I'll give it five stars because I think it'll grow on me even more.

tempest_77 | 5/5 |

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