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Abarax - Blue Room CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.63 | 45 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I must begin with a caveat that I haven't heard ABARAX's previous (debut) album, so I didn't know what I was getting when I ordered this one. Undoubtedly, it was worth it! I am genuinely impressed with the BLUE ROOM, and I can't help but recommend it to all fans of progressive rock. Kicking off (after the brief intro "Cry Out For Me") with a magnificent opener that sports an easily memorable melody ("Autumn Storm), the album continues strong until the very last (and longest) song, "Howard's End."

ABARAX is classified on as a psychedelic/space rock band, and I tend to agree with this grouping. The emphasis should be placed on Psychedelic, not Space, though. Fuzzed roaring guitars, soaring keyboards (predominantly, organ), melodic solos, strong singing mixed at the front, sumptuous backing vocals, mid-tempo throughout ? all the attributes of psychedelic rock that really rocks but never crosses the hard-rock border are present here. While all of these components do originate in the 1970s, however, this is a very modern sounding record: the production is crisp yet warm, very much in your face yet elegant at the same time. The booklet indicates that the band has two guitarists, and it shows, but there is no excessive heaviness in the sound.

Perhaps the only critical thing I have to say about this record is that the seven full-length tracks on the CD sound somewhat similar. As a symphonic prog fan, I occasionally found myself, especially during the first couple of spins, wishing there was a bit more variety, melody- and tempo-wise. Most (or even all) of the songs are in mid-tempo, with clear-cut structures. This is not to say that the BLUE ROOM is repetitive, monotonous, or tedious. God forbid! It is, rather, a classical psychedelic album, and as a result, the genre imposes its limitations.

Although, as I said, the record is very even and it's difficult to single out any songs, the tracks that do stand out immediately are the opener "Autumn Storm" (a real hit ? must be an exceptional concert song!), "Red Roses and Bullets" (a somewhat up-tempo song with a great chorus), and the final "Howard's End," with its pulsating, ominous rhythm, circular, even hypnotic structure, and loads of emotional tension. (The song's title suggests that the track is inspired by E. M. Forster's eponymous novel, and although I didn't spot any textual parallels, the atmosphere of the song does reflect the spirit of this excellent book.) Other songs are just as good, but overall, this is music painted in broad strokes, so to speak: although there are plenty of nuances (a nice acoustic fragment here or an elaborate keyboard solo there), you need quite a lot of time to listen carefully to begin to appreciate them all.

Again, it's a fantastic record that will appeal to fans of heavy prog, symphonic prog, psychedelic and all those who like good melodies, slick arrangements, and a strong sense of what the musicians want to achieve. The record is focused and it strikes home. Keep up the good work!

DS | 4/5 |


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