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Faithful Breath - Back on My Hill CD (album) cover

BACK ON MY HILL

Faithful Breath

 

Symphonic Prog

3.35 | 15 ratings

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seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
4 stars Back On My Hill is the title of the second album by German symphonic band Faithful Breath. Despite their 1973 debut album having been hailed in some quarters as a masterpiece, it was 1980 before the follow-up saw the light of day. Bass player Horst Stabenow quit in 1975, only to return to the band a couple of years later. In the interim, Jurgen Renfordt had been recruited as lead vocalist during 1976. The self-released single Back On My Hill, backed with Stick In Your Eyes, was released in May 1977 shortly before Stabenow's return. The new 5-piece recorded the remainder of the album in January 1978, but much legal wrangling delayed its release for a further two years.

The music on this album consists of highly melodic rock sung in English, nicely orchestrated and firmly grounded in the symphonic tradition. Certainly it's not as deep as the band's first album, with the Zeitgeist clearly having influenced the four short songs that open the album. In fact, all four of these songs plus the bonus track were released as singles in one form or another. However the epic Judgement Day had been in the band's repertoire since 1974, and at almost 17 minutes is a fully developed symphonic piece.

The title track sounds fairly mainstream (it was released as a single, remember) but consists of a lovely uplifting melody and pleasant vocals by lead singer Renfordt, whose enunciation is perfect. There's a tempo change around midway with synthesizer and guitar solos. Keep Me Away was coupled with the bonus track, Die Morderbiene, as a 12" single. This is the weakest song on the album and maybe is an early indicator of the heavy rock/metal direction the band would eventually follow.

The piano ballad, This Is My Love Song, topped the charts in Germany for several weeks I believe. This is unashamedly sentimental: 'You're the root and I'm the tree, You're the lock and I'm the key, And I love you, And I'm feeling blue'. Ok, this is incredibly twee but I've been listening to The Moody Blues for forty years, so it's not a problem for me personally. Anyway, once the Mellotron clouds float in you think it really is The Moodies. Add a Brian May- inspired guitar break and I'm carried to happy place.

Stick In Your Eyes is portrayed in great brush strokes of Mellotron and synthesizer. I'm a sucker for melodies like these no matter how commercial they sound. The final track, Judgement Day, comprised the entire second side of the original vinyl album. Some listeners may be put off by the Christian subject matter of the lyrics, but sonically it's awash with Manfred Von Buttlar's Mellotron and organ in good rapport with Heinz Mikus's guitarwork. Bonus track Die Morderbiene was the only song they wrote with German lyrics. It's quite good as bonus tracks go, with a catchy melody and plentiful synthesizer and Mellotron.

The 2007 Garden Of Delights re-issue includes a handy 32-page booklet that contains sleeve notes in German and English, full discography and numerous photos. If, like me, you're a fan of The Moody Blues and BJH this album should be right up your street. However, a word of warning to symphonic fans about their later albums. After the band broke up in 1981 Mikus and Stabenow continued with new people, and then took to wearing Viking helmets and playing heavy metal!

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |

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