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It Bites - The Tall Ships CD (album) cover

THE TALL SHIPS

It Bites

 

Crossover Prog

3.83 | 133 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars I purchased this album on a whim to take advantage of a special online deal; I selected it more or less because of the gorgeous album artwork and the intriguing title. To my surprise, it blew away all the symphonic progressive rock titles I had been meaning to acquire. With few exceptions, each track is an unforgettable and radiant display of talent, thoughtfulness, and proficiency- a rare combination. The compositions are their executions are not the only things that command praise- the gravelly voice of John Mitchell is simply amazing; he manages an unrefined rasp without sacrificing range or pleasantness, an earthy voice that occasionally soars into a longing falsetto. The lead guitarist has an excellent, scorching tone, and his choice of notes are always what the piece requires. The other members are clearly more supportive in their roles, but this is not to say that their contributions cannot be enjoyed independently. In addition, the CD is housed in very nice packaging, which includes a booklet of vibrant photography. This album is a highly recommended string of gems- one glistening jewel after another.

"Oh My God" Kicking off with colorful vocals, this immediately catchy song brings together energetic rock music and captivating melodies. If that isn't enough of a treat, the electric guitar lead work adds another layer of accomplishment, complimented by a tight rhythm section and dazzling keyboards.

"Ghosts" Bordering on progressive grunge, the second song pairs a driving, heavy rhythm with 1990s synthetic dance tones. And the guitar solo just screams. Again, the upbeat vocal melody hooks onto the listener's memory right away.

"Playground" One of the most powerful and memorable songs on the album, "Playground" inflicts nostalgia its hearers. The various melodies are woven together in a graceful yet hard-rocking manner. A bittersweet acoustic interlude leads back into the main theme and that mighty, wistful refrain.

"Memory of Water" The fourth track is one of the hardest ones, relying heavily on a wall of guitars. It Bites crams several riffs into the verse, building tension by choking the sound. However, the band has sense enough to let that sweet chorus breathe while not losing steam.

"The Tall Ships" Other than "Never the Same" by Echolyn, I don't think I've ever heard a more optimistic and hopeful song about eventual endings. As it should be, the melody is the centerpiece of the song. Easing up on the tempo, the piece adopts acoustic guitars and the synthesizer lead takes on the form of an Irish whistle. All in all, this is a stunningly beautiful composition.

"The Wind That Shakes the Barley" Track number six is the progressive masterpiece of the album. It consists of several different musical sections, all of them rich and memorable, offering generous shifts in rhythm, tempo, melody, resonance, and general direction.

"Great Disasters" I could appreciate why it is easy to dislike this song, particularly coming after what it does. It has a carefree, late 1980s vibe (think multicolored pants and Members Only jackets). I enjoy it regardless, especially the backup vocals. For me, it only contributes- in its own quirky way- to the nostalgia factor so prevalent throughout this CD.

"Fahrenheit" Retaining the late 1980s feel, this tune features a more simplistic structure and yet another catchy chorus. It benefits from its modern sound- in particular the hearty bass and drums, as well as the striking lead guitar tone, which cuts through the music.

"For Safekeeping" Here lies the only truly gentle song on the entire disc, and even then, the soothing piano is met with accentuations from the rest of the crew.

"Lights" Buoyant and fun, I am reminded of early 1990s party music- not the best the album has to offer, but certainly not a bad little tune.

"This Is England" The final track is the other full-bodied progressive rock song on the album. It begins pensively and quietly, gradually picking up momentum but maintaining its moodiness. Using an assortment of textures and musical passages, the piece crescendos in a compelling refrain. Wild and slippery keyboard lines eventually descend into an organ-led dirge, which in turn gives way to a triumphant conclusion.

Epignosis | 5/5 |

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