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Viriditas - Red Mars CD (album) cover





3.05 | 3 ratings

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3 stars A nice collection of rock-opera-like musical interpretations inspired by the Red Mars sci-fi writings of novelist Kim Stanley Robinson. The lead vocals of these talented young Brits are transferred among a rock-oriented (think URIAH HEEP) rotation of singers over the course of the story-telling songs.

1. "Red Mars" (3:23) electronica layers open as an introduction to this album overture to the theme. Guitars and rock elements join in and make their contributions over the final two minutes. (8/10)

2. "The Killing" (6:44) opens with a nicely apportioned rock thickness. A Zaher Zorgati (MYRATH)-like lead vocal steps in to take over the storytelling while guitars, synths, chunky bass, steady drums, and background vocalists support without getting in the way. I love the way everything in this song is understated, no bombastic or over-the-top performances even though it is a heavy prog production. I detect quite a little similarity to fellow British Neo Proggers IQ as the song goes on. (8.75/10)

3. "Ares" (6:26) opens with a theatric introduction before settling into a slide-guitar-based, PINK FLOYD-feeling song. The band's sense of melody here is superb with great chord changes to support and augment this beauty. Then, surprise, a gorgeous female voice opens up the vocal storytelling. Nice voice, Julie Kvaerndrup! With songs like this, VIRIDITAS is going to worm its way into my heart! It feels as if all of the band members here are truly invested and committed to the inspiring source material of their art. Wonderful to feel. Nice guitar work to finish. I only wish the song had tried to strike a little harder at some point. (9/10)

4. "Khalia" (8:00) A rocker that borders on hard rock but remains melodic and simple. Very URIAH HEEP sounding. Even the slowed down, spacious middle section retains that classic 70s prog feel--like BLUE 'YSTER CULT and URIAH HEEP. The alternating vocals of Julie Kvaerndrup here are a little weak--or perhaps mixed too quietly into the soundscape. (8/10)

5. "Blood On The Airwaves" (7:17) an unfortunate prog-by-numbers opening is fortunately uplifted by a wonderfully solid, melodic vocal section. Mike Waters' lead vocal is absolutely wonderful--in the same league as those of classic prog singers like David Byron and Eric Bloom. The instrumental passages, despite tight constructions, fail to lift us as high as they should. Same for the chorus/background vocal sections. (8.25/10)

6. "We See Red" (25:05) a whopper of an epic opens rather blandly with some very simple, straightforward rock and some not-very-engaging melodies. The shift at the end of the fifth minute offers Mike Waters the chance to win us over with an isolated vocal but the ensuing instrumental section fails to follow through at his level. Even the Buck Dharma-like guitar soloing fails because the basic structure below is not fresh or polished enough to suck us in. The DAVID GILMOUR-like solo guitar in the eighth and ninth minutes is very impressive--and this is where the song finally gets going, engaging us with another PINK FLOYD-like soundscape. The vocal works much better with this sonic palette; too bad the song structure is so simple and straightforward. This section goes on far too long before being bridged by quite a hopeful instrumental section into a softer, slightly faster section that has some really nice whole-band cohesion and spirit (16th minute). Finally, there's enough flourish and flair, both individually and collectively, to satisfy the prog lover. An instrumental section follows that will satisfy most Neo Prog lovers. A jazzy, bass-led section begins at 18:00 that feels like maybe we'll finally be able to forget the doldrums of the first ten minutes. Lead vocalist Julie Kvaerndrup's work is a nice change but too short-lived to really soar (plus, again, her voice is mixed rather deeply into the thick of the instruments). Not an epic I'll be recommending to others; too little soul and spirit. (7/10)

7. "Beyond The Reach Of Fools" (5:01) using a kind of 1980s heavy-prog sound palette (especially in the choice of the FLOCK OF SEAGULLS-like lead guitar sound), this song tries a little too hard to reach iconic proportions; there is a little too much of that 80s arrrogant Billy Idol-like attitude (whether real or faked). (8/10)

Total Time 61:56

3.5 stars; a good expression of some older prog rock styles and intentions. This is a talented collection of performers with tremendous potential as a band.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |


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