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Yes - Keys to Ascension 2  CD (album) cover

KEYS TO ASCENSION 2

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 348 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Yes: Keys to Ascension 2 [1997]

Rating: 8/10

Keys to Ascension 2 is another wonderful return-to-form for Yes. As the title suggests, the album is a direct continuation of its predecessor in both structure and sound. However, KtA2 is more evenly split between live tracks and original studio material. The first one was a live album with two original songs added on; this is half live and half studio.

The live recordings are taken from the same show as those on KtA, so they're obviously stylistically similar. All of the songs are passionately performed; the musicianship is spectacular; the recording quality successfully captures the grandiosity of the performances. However, as fantastic as these live songs are, they are not quite as amazing as the selections on the first KtA. Nothing here reaches the same level the renditions of "Starship Trooper" and "Awaken" present on that album. However, I don't want to downplay the quality of the material here. "Turn of the Century" is particularly notable. Every band member is in their prime on this track. The emotion is palpable, and Howe's guitar work during the conclusion is magnificent.

The studio half opens with the excellent eighteen-minute "Mind Drive", one of the best post-70s Yes songs. It begins with classical guitar and transitions into a heavy bass-driven section. A softer section follows with excellent vocals and acoustic playing. A frantic guitar/keyboard solo section then moves into an energetic reprise/conclusion. "Foot Prints" features fantastic bass work and a solid chorus. "Bring Me to the Power" contains a few unfortunate Union-like moments, but excellent guitar work successfully balances the song out. "Children of Light/Lifeline" opens with a vocal intro and transitions into a pleasant chorus with strong piano and bass. Steve Howe plays a spacey solo during the song's conclusion. "Sign Language", a gorgeous and superb guitar solo, ends the album on a high note.

The live recordings here are wonderful, and the original material contains some of the best Yes songs written in the 80s/90s. This album falls just short of the masterpiece level only because the live songs aren't on quite the same level as those on the first one, and there are a few less-than-stellar moments on the studio half. Overall, however, Keys to Ascension 2 is an excellent album that yet again showcases the immense power of this lineup.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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