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Dead Heroes Club - A Time of Shadow CD (album) cover


Dead Heroes Club



3.81 | 54 ratings

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4 stars Excellent, surprising stuff.

It's a fantastic album like this that makes me realise I have a problem with the term "Neo-Prog". It's a classification which seems, by it's very nature, to define a lesser style of progressive music. This music generally has Genesis as it's primary influence, and yet we do not refer to it as symphonic. To me, it seems as though any band tagged as Neo-Prog might as well be referred to as "Sub-Symphonic".

Much of the time, I'll admit, that's pretty close to the truth. On the other hand, this album by Dead Heroes Club really deserves better. This album has elements of true symphonic prog, elements of space rock, and even some prog-folk. It's heavy on the synths at times, sure, and Liam Campbell's voice sounds a hell of a lot like Peter Gabriel's, but that should not relegate this music to (what I consider) the lesser rank of Neo-Prog.

The tracks here are all excellent. There is not a track which feels like filler, nor one which overstays its welcome. That last point is an important one. Though there are 4 songs which range from 9 minutes - 15 minutes, they all feel extremely organic. This is to say that the separate parts and instrumental sections flow into one another with confidence and ease. There is none of that different-songs-slapped-together syndrome which plagues so many modern prog bands who attempt at any cost to create an "epic". Rather the contrary; all 4 longer tracks are composed with great skill and care, the sort of care that usually comes from a band with more experience.

The shorter songs too, however, are very good. The rocker "Centre Cannot Hold" is proof these guys should not be pidgeon-holed stylistically, and while not very proggy, is highly listenable indeed. "The Sleepers are Waking" is a beautiful folkly ballad, apparently a tribute to a deceased friend. The melodies are very bittersweet and memorable, with some female backing vocals making their only appearance on the album to great effect.

I simply have to mention the lyrics. The lyrics on this album really raise it above the standard prog fare. Though there are obviously some grand exceptions, a lot of prog music deals in nonsense lyrics, I'm sure you'll agree. The lyrics here simply cannot be described as nonsense. Not only do they deal with real-world issues such as politics and religion, they do so in a prosaic but highly literary fashion. There is no semblance of pretension or arrogance, and never does it feel like you are being preached to. These songs simply have something to say, and they make their points well.

Finally, a word about the production. I know I should have more tolerance for a band that does not have considerable means, but I can't help it. The production is slightly muddled, and is frankly the reason this fails to garner 5 stars from me. Firstly, the vocals are pushed way, way too far out in front. This is relatively acceptable since the lyrics are great, as mentioned above, and since Liam Campbell has a good, strong voice. The instruments, however, lack any sort of clear separation, particularly the bass which sounds very muddy down in the bottom of the mix. That's a shame because there are some great bass lines throughout.

This minor quibble aside, a truly excellent album. Please give these Irishmen a chance, especially if you, like me, think Neo-Prog usually represents a lesser style of prog. These 4 gentlemen definitely rise above such classifications.

Eapo_q42 | 4/5 |


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