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Flaming Row - The Pure Shine CD (album) cover

THE PURE SHINE

Flaming Row

 

Progressive Metal

4.24 | 16 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The music on this album is so incredible that they released it with a second disc of just the music! Yes, I didn't quite expect to enjoy the second disc so much. After all, the songs and vocal parts are fabulous and tell the story of this conceptual piece, which is based on Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series. That whole first album is a treat with astounding instrumental passages between the rock opera vocals with a host of singers taking up the different parts. It's a brilliant piece of work! But very soon I found that the music was just so exciting, so involved, so beautiful that it really could stand up on its own.

Flaming Row released their third album in December of 2019. After chalking up their previous album "Mirage: A Portrayal of Figures" as one of my favourite prog metal albums and favourite concept narrative albums of all time, I was both excited and hesitant to get the new album. The former is like Ayreon meets Dream Theater meets Haken. Since I hadn't heard the first album "Elinoire" I didn't know if "Mirage" was just a special thing or if this complex, varied and thrilling music was just how the band worked.

My first observation was that the metal element was relegated way in back of the acoustic side. In fact, it's quite the opposite of "Mirage" where the album was mostly electric with acoustic interludes. Here the acoustic instrumentation takes over and the heavier electric sequences are present and effective, but not at the front of the stage as much this time. However, that was not anything to disappoint me. All the acoustic guitar, piano, strings, woodwinds, and percussion easily won my ears over in an instant. There is simply so much beauty in the music here! So once again, I'm listening to just the instrumental versions of the tracks after having heard the whole first disc with the vocals once more through.

There's something very interesting about some the music on this new album. Right from the first listen, I recognized at least a couple of the powerful and memorable melodies. I'd heard them on "Mirage: A Portrayal of Figures". But the two stories were completely different. "Mirage" is about an alien species that tries to eliminate humans from the earth before it's destroyed by human beings, and how the survivours struggle to find a way to keep the human race from being snuffed out. "The Pure Shine" is from the Stephen King novel series mentioned above. Was there some connection?

I contacted guitarist Martin Schnella and asked about the repeated melodies. He replied saying that they had actually written much of the music for a trilogy back in 2011-13. But as his acoustic project with Melanie Mau overtook Flaming Row in popularity and also some key members left the band, the trilogy fell through. However, Martin loved much of the music he had written and decided to pass it along to the third album. It seems a bit puzzling to hear the same melodies for two different stories, but I really like hearing these again in a new sound pallet. Catch the powerful melody at 13:12 in "The Sorcerer" and compare it to "Pictures" from "Mirage: A Portrayal of Figures"at 2:39. There's also the flute melody in "Jake's Destiny" - incidentally, my pick for most awesome track on the album - that sounds really close to one in the opening track of "Mirage".

So, whether you enjoy the whole of album one with the lyrical parts and wonderfully good vocal executions or you can get into just letting the instruments speak, this album is a special work. I can enjoy either disc equally.

And if you can, I highly recommend checking out "Mirage: A Portrayal of Figures" because it's such a tremendous piece of work.

FragileKings | 5/5 |

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