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Vienna Circle - Secrets of the Rising Sun CD (album) cover

SECRETS OF THE RISING SUN

Vienna Circle

 

Neo-Prog

3.81 | 40 ratings

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FredStock
5 stars "A great guitar album, extremely melodic, and a must listen. Especially for fans of Pink Floyd and Camel."

Once I heard that Vienna Circle were releasing a new album 8 years after their last, it swiftly became the most anticipated album of the year for me. Their previous two albums were solid and although I could see room for improvement in areas, I could see the potential for greater albums in years come. I am also one for being stuck in my old classic prog ways and find modern prog rarely captures the brilliance of the classic prog era, and this band has always paid homage to the great prog acts of the past.

Vienna Circle has always been a duo, two brothers, Paul and Jack Davis, and when I heard the news that Jack Davis had left the band and wasn't to be a part of this new album I have to admit I wasn't sure what to expect. As with all my reviews I make sure I give the albums at least 5 plays through before reviewing as with many of these albums it's impossible to digest everything and have a fair opinion on just one listen. It just so happens this particular album got about 20 listens and here are my thoughts.

The album opens with the longest track on the album, and one of the two highlights on the album for me, 'Golden Sunset Roulette', starting with a very prog sounding, 'Watcher of the Skies' style guitar/drum/organ sequence, very cool. It had me sucked in straight away. This song has everything you want from a prog epic. The guitar playing on this album is absolutely superb and very reminiscent of Camel's Andy Latimer, David Gilmour, and at times even Mike Oldfield. The song has strong melody after strong melody throughout, as can be said for the album as a whole.

Five of the nine tracks on this album are instrumental. When I said above that I'd always heard room for improvement in the previous two recordings, the main area would've been vocally. Although the sound of Paul Davis' voice was pleasant, you got the sense of inexperience in his voice but in a strange way it worked for me. I'd be lying however if I wasn't hoping for a slight improvement in this area. Fortunately, on this album the vocals have improved massively and at times are great.

Paul offers up singing duties to Gemma Davis for one of the tracks. 'That Night', which I have to say, it will not leave your head if you give it a few listens. The guitar part is extremely catchy and together with the vocals are slightly reminiscent of Mike Oldfields 'Moonlight Shadow'.

'Sunset Revolver' is a much heavier, metal instrumental that brings back themes from the first track and in particular that crazy catchy arpeggiated guitar melody from the album opener. One for fans of Dream Theater/Riverside for sure as Paul shows off his technical ability on both keys and guitar.

'Fly Lady Fly' offers the album something different with its thumping kick drum chorus. The piano melody is beautiful and reminds me very much of the piano playing in the earlier Camel albums. Probably the closest to a ballad on the album, 'Fly Lady Fly' hosts probably my favourite guitar solo on the album.

The title track 'Secrets of the Rising Sun' catches your attention immediately and has a bit of everything that I enjoy about this band. Sawing guitar solos, catchy choruses, great synth playing, and killer guitar riffs. Try and listen to the guitar riff at the end of the song without headbanging. This track is very reminiscent of classic Pink Floyd for me.

The album closes with the song 'Canyons'. Wow. What a track. Although this album really is full of highlights for me throughout, this track is a real stand out. Everything I want from a prog song. The guitar playing is up there with the greats in my opinion and I can't help but think Paul Davis will never get the exposure he deserves.

So, to conclude, any doubts that the loss of a band member would slow the progress of the band have been quashed and Paul Davis has produced a real masterpiece for me here and the best Vienna Circle album yet. It's clear who Paul Davis' inspirations are, yet at the same time he has managed to form a sound that is unique to Vienna Circle.

The album is very well constructed as a complete start to end piece of work. Each track is different, and the album has kept me interested throughout. I have been on a journey to find new/current artists in the prog genre that can truly be handed the baton by the prog greats from the 70s/80s and I have found one in Vienna Circle and Paul Davis. It's one of those albums where you can say, if this was released in the 70's, I think it would be up there with some of the greatest prog albums of all time. A great guitar album, extremely melodic, and a must listen. Especially for fans of Pink Floyd and Camel.

FredStock | 5/5 |

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