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Renaissance - Ashes Are Burning CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.22 | 753 ratings

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5 stars Good golly miss Haslan, those vocal melodies are damn fine.

Renaissance - Ashes Are Burning (1973)

Overall Rating: 13

Best Song: LET IT GROW

How come these guys are a progressive rock band, and some of these songs stretch to over 10 minutes, but it never seems like standard progressive rock, or at least the typical assumption of your generic prog band? Oh, maybe it's the fact that, even with having just six songs on the album, it still feels like a truly captivating landscape, and how their flights of fancy are always augmented by truly ingenious melodies.

I'm getting ahead of myself, which is a shame, because my head's been in a trip for the past half hour or so. This is some damn good music, no matter what you call it, and even if that's a subjective opinion, I don't care. These melodies actually speak to me, and in the land of pomp, pretentiousness, and side-long jams that don't go anywhere (Here's looking at you, Gates of Delirium), there's a lot of rich subtlety, here. the album starts off with a really whimsical, tantalizing display of pianos rocking your boat with Haslan's superb singing abilities. Now, if you're reading a Renaissance review, you're sure to have heard of this woman's vocal prowess, and I can't help but play into it, because she IS a vocal maestro, and it really adds a heap of necessary charm to the world that Ashes Are Burning tries to create.

Not a single song, no matter the length, falls off into the realms of boredom. No, this is one even record, if there ever was one. It's kind of like a beautiful, angelic yin to Jethro Tull's rough, dirty yang. They play a lush, poppy style of intricate progressive folk, which makes these yokels a bright contradiction in my book. I love contradictions, especially Let It Grow, which is simply put, a lush pop masterpiece. The main melody is awe-inspiring, and how it morphs at the very end, and actually grows on the theme, is an essential journey for any discerning music lover to take. It's just really fantastic, I don't know what to say. The vocal chanting at the end rules me, I'm at this song's proverbial beck-and-call. That isn't to say the other songs aren't good. Holy elfin smoke grenades, this is a mystical album, and it's honestly, sincerely pretty, the whole way through. So many folk style instruments run together to form breathtaking aural landscapes, and they all ride under the winds of miss Annie's cherubim fawning.

Carpet of the Sun is another phenomenal, succinct song, with harmonious string accompaniment, but who cares? Prettiness! Subtlety! The gorgeous singing! I'm floored, I really am. Why are there so many memorable melodies? Like the grand piano introduction to the Harbour, that makes me drift off to an old shore bar, someplace, with ships sailing in to the dock on the horizon. When I hear this I can almost feel the ocean breeze twirling through my hair. By the way, I've got really long hair. How is that pertinent to this review? It isn't! Gee, aren't these songs immaculate? Now, this album isn't perfect. What album is? Sometimes the songs don't really jump out at you, and the diversity isn't much anywhere to be found, exactly. It's all a pretty similar trip. I'm nitpicking, though. It's a vastly memorable trip, and the whole record bubbles over with angel chorus prettiness and nectarine serenity. Or, it's just great music. Maybe the title track goes on for a bit too long, but it's all so beautiful anyway, that it doesn't matter, not one bit.

Speaking of said album title closing track, I don't give a rat's behind if it's twelve minutes, it's worth that, and more. A plethora of progressive bands tried making songs that stretched all the way to next week, and most of these were usually done for the sake of length and sprawl. This, however, has a majestic build up that has to be, heard to be believed, with sweltering solos from all the different instrumentalists, culminating in the entire album's climax in one of the only electric guitar solos, and it rocks hard. I do think that some of the passages could have been trimmed from the first and last songs, and it would have effectively poised the album as a more economical affair, but let our sugary sweet angels spread their wings a little, mac. They never did nothing to you, did they?

I can't help myself from spewing epithets like "pretty" "beautiful" "gorgeous", and "just friggin' great!". Ashes Are Burning is this, and more. It's downright romantic and bashful, without being shy. That's another contradiction for you, so stuff it! These melodies are gargantuan, though, even from the small touches like the organ solo in the middle of the album closing title track, or the sheer breadth of sound the band attempts to take on, succeeding all the while, with passionate piano/acoustic guitar interplay, wrapped in Haslan's silky sweet cooing. Stop me right now, and get this album. It's a shimmering winner. And... for you folks out there with a prejudice 'gainst women vocalists....go suck your damn Iron Maiden or something, I'll take my beauty with extra sugar, please.

Alitare | 5/5 |


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