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Pictorial Wand - Face Of Our Fathers CD (album) cover


Pictorial Wand


Symphonic Prog

3.59 | 56 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Pictorial Wand's sophomore album was my positive bombshell of 2009. Not at all sure what to expect, even after doing some reading and feeling intrigued by the artwork, I found myself stunned that such music should find its way to my ears. The album never runs out of fresh musical ideas, and once a theme has run its course, it is either reinvented or something fresh happens. The electric guitars are never overwrought with distortion, and they even have the good sense to go away sometimes. Intelligent but never bombastic keyboards of varying tones and intensities weave their way through the arrangements. The bass guitar and drums are the most subdued aspect of the album, but there is nothing wrong with an in-the-pocket rhythm section, especially when so much else is going on during certain passages. But the most amazing constituents of this album lie in the vocal duties and the melodies. Employing both male and female singers, both with strapping vocal cords and an indomitable sense of harmony, Pictorial Wand creates a commanding confederacy of talent and craftsmanship. Even though other acts have far greater fanfare, this is perhaps the greatest symphonic progressive rock album of 2009. Ladies and gentlemen, please do not ignore this masterpiece.

"The Wasteland" A dirge-like acoustic guitar, the tolling of a bell, and a funeral's sermon begins the album. Distorted electric guitar works alongside synthesizer until another guitar enters, setting up the verse. Despite the staples of progressive rock, this piece has a decidedly southern rock flavor with the tremolo guitar and grainy masculine vocals. Even the female lead vocalist has a smoky, Dale Krantz-Rossington sound to her. Overloaded with melodic themes, often layered one of top of the other, one may expect nothing less than heavy symphonic brilliance. Although stripped down during the guitar solo for a brief time, the piece erupts in a powerful counterpoint vocal section that has to be heard to be believed.

"Struggle of Autumn Leaves" Following the piano in the introduction, a web of synthesizer and electric guitar is woven together, ushering in a simple acoustic guitar and vocal. As with the previous piece, the vocals are outstanding, as they carry brilliant melodies with ease and vigor. Complex instrumentation- keyboard, violin, flute, and electric guitar- works over a steady bass and drum creating textures quite similar to those of Kansas.

"Prince of War" Dirty organ introduces yet another memorable musical theme. Other instruments encroach on this performance to create a more substantial interpretation. A soulful, mournful, yet skillful electric guitar solo does some dazzling things over a dark acoustic guitar and organ. Violin and flute return to the main motif, accompanied by hard-hitting punctuations and thick vocals.

"The Ghosts Start Dancing" A single, gritty guitar plays a pleasing motif alone, but soon a second guitar, and then other instruments join. The feminine vocals here are nothing less than stellar, particularly during the gentle refrain. Following a magnificent series of vocal passages, expertly-crafted organ and guitar solos tear through the music before everything winds down to the sorrowful exhortations of a mother and the prideful determination of her son. This woman's voice is not to be missed, folks. How expressive!

"Verse of Despair" Swampy guitar and synthesizer by themselves create two different moods, one melancholic and one hopeful, using a unique chord progression. Screaming lead guitar bridges the gorgeous vocal sections.

"Face of Our Fathers" Piano and organ deliver a wonderful melody, but the sound changes into something that might be described as light Dream Theater. Without dropping its somber vibe, however, the piece grows suddenly softer, which serves as a mat for some fine electric guitar gymnastics.

"Circle's End" The final track employs a more metal approach with a pompous riff. It quickly subsides, leaving keyboards, flute, and acoustic guitar. The song even uses vocals shrouded in effects, making them almost sound like a growl. After a brisk guitar solo and flute excursion, the music becomes somewhat dissonant and somber, relying on cello, piano, and other strings. Bittersweet violin brings in a heartfelt vocal performance just before the fiery conclusion. A brokenhearted denouement of acoustic guitar and synthesizer closes this monumental work of art.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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