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Wobbler - Dwellers of the Deep CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.31 | 308 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars So, is this band going supernova? Just maybe.

Coming off the highest rated album of 2017 on Progarchives, it is hoped, but not necessarily expected that the next effort will be as good. Except in this case, it is quite arguably better, and is in fact on pace to take highest rated album of 2020 as well. "Dwellers of the Deep" displays an exciting extension, progression, and growth stemming from their previous album, "From Silence to Somewhere". The songs seem tighter, more structured, the music even more inspired, the lyrics more cohesive, and the vocals more accessible. The density of material in a small space is astounding!

There have been plenty of excellent reviews breaking down the tracks, so it doesn't seem particularly necessary to do that over again, at least in any detail. Rather then, this is going to be more of an impressionistic review rather than a technical one, with a few musings and random thoughts.

I suppose the first observation would be one that comes up repeatedly in other reviews, the comparisons with Yes. Does this collection of songs bring up a sense of deja vu of Yes? Without a doubt. Do they sound like Yes? That's a double edged question. When the track "Five Rooms" was early released the immediate take on it was this was like a Where's Waldo of split second Yes riffs feathered in and hidden throughout the big picture. Actually found it to be pretty entertaining to pick them out and try to figure out where you heard them before, or if maybe it was just your imagination. That being said, the structure and construct of "Five Rooms" is very different and unique from anything done by Yes, so that being the case this is a band with its own direction and musical identity.

It cannot be denied that the two bands share some instrumental and vocal parallels. The crunchy base is there, nice lead guitar work, exquisite keys, and creative drumming, and there are moments that the echo of the voice of Jon Andersen can be perceived. But this is where it ends. Wobbler take all these elements apart, deconstructs them and puts it back together again in a totally different way and style.

One of the big differences in Wobbler's song structures is that they are constantly evolving and exploring new musical ideas within each song. It is a strength in that with each listen you continue to pick up different subtle nuances in the tracks. The tracking of each instrument is clear and distinct. It makes it easy to focus on any one instrument at a time and extract it from the mix. At times the music seems very discordant, each instrument doing its own thing, and yet it is melodious, one of the joys of excellent progressive compositions! Often, ideas flow in and out in a minute or so, and yet to their credit the tracks remain cohesive and accessible.

But at times it can be a case of their strength being their weakness. As a case in point, in the track Merry Macabre there is a great guitar solo that starts at about 3:18 and the magnificent final synth push at the end of the song that starts around the 16:40 mark. Both are painfully short. I for one wish these and numerous other passages (you will likely find your own) throughout the album that you wish were explored and developed for another minute or two or more. That minor complaint not withstanding, Wobbler knows how to keep us wanting more.

A curiosity is that the rapid fire musical shifts have the effect that if one is not paying attention the songs can run together. For example, the first track "By the Banks" seems to blend seamlessly into the second song "Five Rooms". Frankly, they could have been merged into one larger epic track instead of two shorter ones. One gets the feeling that the ending of "By the Banks" just sneaks up like they didn't know how to finish it. This is perhaps one of the very minor weaknesses in the album. Thankfully "Five Rooms" ends with a big convincing final riff, with a very obvious tip of the hat to Yes. Totally cracks me up each time I hear it.

"Naiad Dreams" is a totally different piece of music from the rest. It is a simple clean understated ballad, truly lovely. Some reviewers have dismissed it, but that seems a shame. It is an effective respite between all the high energy and complexity of the other three tracks. Again, a minor note, but this song also feels a bit unfinished at the end, but it is not such a big deal as it is followed by the powerful "Merry Macabre". Notably, the vocals in "Naiad Dreams" do not sound Andersen like at all which is a plus in giving the song a more Wobbler distinct sound.

This album really does have everything classic progressive fans love, moments of mellow bliss, moments of intensity, and everything in between. The vocals keep improving and the harmonies when used are quite enjoyable. And where song endings may be a bit of a weakness, there is no such issue with the openings and bodies of the songs. And there is certainly no issue with the closing moments of the album, truly a distinct and really awesome finish. Oh that it were just a little more protracted! To fill in some of these spaces, this 45 minute or so album could be another 10 minutes longer and we would still want more.

And by the way, the album art work is pretty awesome too. Can't speak for anyone else, but the art work almost always affects my perception of the music to follow to some lesser or greater degree, and in this case, its a winner

In conclusion, this a band that is on an exciting trajectory. They have all the aural flavors of the past, but are serving them up to us as something fresh and new. It was observed that had this album been released in the 70's that it might be a classic of the time down to our time. Perhaps, but not so sure, as it may have been a little ahead of its time. But for today, yes, definitely it will be a classic. This is positively a must have for all classic progressive fans. 5 stars no question about it.

So, Is this band going supernova? let's hope not as we don't want them to burn out any time soon!

SilverLight59 | 5/5 |


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