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Epignosis - Still the Waters CD (album) cover

STILL THE WATERS

Epignosis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.32 | 55 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

progkidjoel
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Epignosis - Still The Waters

Review by progkidjoel.

Epignosis' STILL THE WATERS has received much praise from many other reviewers here on ProgArchives, and rightly so - It's an incredibly well played and thoughtfully composed album, and deserves every bit of credit it has received so far. A vast majority of the lyrics have massive Christian undertones, but as these never feel oppressive, overly preachy, forceful, or 'in-your-face', I can't see a problem, and can see some strong relation to the poetry. The songs are made full by the fantastically tame instrumentation, which helps fill out already great songs. I'd like to let whomsoever reads this know that this is an honest, unbiased opinion, and was written without effect of my friendship with Robert. Several other reviews have suggested that this album has only received high ratings due to the close subject matter, although I assure you this album deserves the praise it receives. I'd also like to add this is my second favourite release of 2009, only outdone by MAUDLIN OF THE WELL's best to date, PART THE SECOND. Its worth pointing out the production on this album isn't fantastic, but for a debut from a multi instrumentalist, and considering the budget under which it was made, this is totally forgivable.

Opening up with an eerie ambient effect, the title track opens the album out into a lovely, wholesome guitar riff, slightly reminiscent of Steve Rothery of MARILLION. The riff continues, and is overlapped by a short guitar fill. Shortly after this, drums and bass ensue, with heavier guitar chords. At around 1 minute, vocals enter with a new guitar riff and rhythm. Much softer, and sounding somewhat like an Indie band, Robert creates a great atmosphere through the continuing genuine sense of reality this track carries. At around 3 minutes this fills into a new guitar riff, with a great guitar solo. (This solo reminds me A LOT of SOON, by YES!) Chilling stuff, which when closing, finishes into another great guitar riff and some heavier chords. Eventually, a great synth fill helps add another dimension, which is cut short by yet another amazing guitar solo. The last two minutes of this track are genuinely fulfilling - In these last two minutes, we see a multi-instrumentalist come into his whole as a guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and drummer!

The album continues with my favourite track, A PEARL IN A FIELD. This song opens yet again with inspiring synth riffs, and continues into a heavily rhythmic drum beat perfectly transposed by the soft singing of acoustic guitar chords. Amongst this total mass of instrumentation, a soft synth solo hums over the top and eventually leads into a great bass line which gives the track a lot more structure. At around two minutes in, this track changes pace completely, coming in a lot less full-on, with soft guitar and vocals. Some nice use of vocoder adds to the textures in this track, and the great guitar work provides yet more high points for the debut of Robert Brown Jr.! At the three and a half minute mark, gentle, dripping keyboard tones yet again add to the overall sensitivity and uniqueness of this track. The acoustic guitar work makes this track, and around halfway through, a lovely piano accompaniment joins in the guitar to put some flesh on the bones of a fine track. This track also shows varied drum ability, from heavy rhythmic beats to soft jazz fills. The last minute of this track is marked by a crunchy solo which plays wonderfully off the same harmony that marked the intro.

The album continues with MOVE, a track which reminds me of THE BEATLES musically. This track has the strongest vocal section on the album, and the sound is decidedly different to the past two. This also has my favourite lyrics on the album, in "You are beautiful, you are terrible, you are unchangeable." This track has a great bass line which adds some great atmosphere. At four minutes in, we see the largest stylistic change in the song structure and genuine feel of the album so far. This comes in the form of a bitter-sweet guitar riff, accompanied by the same synth rhythm. This then continues, gathering both momentum and a drum beat as the mid-section progresses. At around 6 minutes in, another crunchy guitar solo accompanies the synth and bass riff, and this sits in the vein of some prog giants, and OZRIC TENTACLES particularly comes to mind. Another tempo change appears soon after, with some deliciously eloquent shredding, which leads into a great riff. This song then leads into a similar flavour to the intro, although the last minute and a half is markedly more upbeat. This features some great guitar chords, over- layered with fantastic acoustic licks.

AN EVERLASTING KINGDOM opens with a much more upbeat into riff, picking up a multitude of prog staples in its synth riffing, and eventuating into a solid track. The only true weak point on this track is the vocal sections, which although not bad, aren't very good. Some beautiful soloing and lyrical sections bring this track to life, and make it the most emotionally stimulating so far. At around half way through, the pace changes again, entering into some ambient synth and guitar work. Soon after, this album reaches its heaviest moment, filled with absolutely brilliant guitar soloing and the occasional shred. The drums are consistent throughout this track, although further use of stereo phonics could have added some more dimensions and textures. Throughout this mass of solos, truly epic synth work plays delicately with the consistent bass and guitar work. Soon after, the pace changes with some soft piano work and great guitar work. This particular section always reminds me of something by late MARILLION, although the guitar work is more similar to that of STEVE HOWE, the master. This is possibly my favourite instrumental section throughout the album, and is by far the most emotionally enduring. The restless guitar work and piano chords play wonderfully into an epic close.

Ah, this is it! The moment we've all been waiting for - The epic! NO SHADOW OF TURNING is the longest track on the album, by nearly twice the length. And rightly so - This is a true technical and compositional showcase on all fronts by Epignosis, particularly in the drum and synth department. This is a genuine, full-fledged prog epic, and is fully deserving of its length. Throughout its lifespan, the many changes of pace, emotion and tempo are unbelievable, and really add to the quality of this album. My favourite section of this epic spans from around three minutes until five minutes, which is filled with perfect piano playing and vocal majesty. The synth work is once again fantastic, some sections better than others, but overall great. The drum work on this song is excellent, and is by far the best on the track. The heavy rhythm at around five and a half minutes is still as exciting to me as the first time I heard it, and this can be said for a majority of this album. The guitar work holds the banner high, and the pace change at seven minutes is one of the most original in the symphonic prog genre in the last ten years. Another high point flows into place at the ten minute mark, when flowing piano chords come bursting in with great, thumping bass, which once again leads into the rhythm I spoke about before. Another synth chord attack brings the track a fuller, and somewhat more confusing flavour. The last six minutes of NO SHADOW OF TURNING round out the album perfectly, and give a good recap as to what one can expect when listening to this strong debut. The lyrics are at their high point; which is more than obvious is this album's killer line: "How can I blindly trust your God? No faith is ever blind." This track rounds out with more of the killer synth and guitar interplay, and the outro guitar solo closes the album with a genuinely helpless feel. This is a brilliant epic, and a perfect closer!

In addition, I'd like to add that I may have misinterpreted some of the moods and/or atmosphere expressed throughout this album, although I don't think this is a real problem - The album still connected with me in a unique and deeply affectionate way.

The only genuine complaints I have for this album seem petty when looked at in the grand scheme of things, although are still worth a mention. The drum work, although sometimes great, is often very average in comparison to the other instrument work. I'd also like to add that the vocals aren't really great - They suit the purpose, although I will go as far to say there is massive room for improvement in the singing department.

This is a fantastic album, and the best symphonic prog release in recent memory.

I only own this album as MP3's, as that's the only way its currently available, but I plan to buy this as a CD if it is ever released in that format.

A great album, and truly deserving of its place amongst the best of 2009!

-Joel

progkidjoel | 4/5 |

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