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Introitus - Elements CD (album) cover

ELEMENTS

Introitus

 

Neo-Prog

3.90 | 218 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars Another one of those unexpected surprises that are fueled by previous glowing reviews, I took the risk and I am glad I did. This is a phenomenal outing from this Swedish prog family (Partridge or Osmond, they are not), proposing a modern take on the female-led progressive genre, skirting near Neo territory but when you notice that the disc is bookended by two epic compositions (14 and 17 minutes), you tend to realize that we are not in Pop land but rather in Symph world. Actually from Sweden, though their style is not your typical frosty mellotron-led Nordic quiver but a highly melodic take at the 4 elements that composed our world (Earth, Water, Wind and Fire) as inspiration. Keyboardist Mats Bender prefers lush and bubbly synths as the main vehicle for melody, aided by some sterling guitar runs from Par Helje while bassist Dennis Lindquist and drummer Mattias Bender keep the foundation purring. The opener 'The Hand That Feeds You' is a fine opening salvo, a rich tapestry of somersaulting melodies , woven with some powerful female vocals (Anna Bender) that resemble Mike Oldfield's Maggie Reilly , stitched by some flute to give it some sweetness. After the briefly cinematographic 'Earth', the beautiful ballad 'Like Always' (I will not apologize at being both a devout progger and a passionate romantic) garnished with personal and touching lyrics about life's often twisting realities. The music is gently bombastic and features a short bass solo that is outright original, as well as the perennial soaring bluesy guitar solo that scratches the heavens. This is tremendous stuff. 'Restless' gets a little antsier, which is always welcome after a ballad, a bold melodic statement that changes gears on a dime showcasing their obvious chops (they are Swedes after all!), including some deft piano, wailing wordless vocals and a playful sense of sonic creativity. There is nothing contrived or rehashed here which is a great testimony of this group's direction, powerful yet soothing. The sensational 11 minutes of 'Dreamscape' evoke a reverie on the subject of solitude and detachment that leads to sleep. The mood is appropriately melancholic, swirling rhythms within a majestic arrangement, constantly evolving forward as the dream sequence kicks in, underlined by sharp guitar riffs and power drumming, propelling the music forward as the synths bubble merrily. When the softer passage enters the fray, its highly reminiscent of the vaporous floating feeling induced by sleep, as Anna's voice flutters ornately among the clouds. The good old bass rekindles the beat rather nicely, introducing a mesmerizing synth solo that would make Manfred Mann smile in envy. The tossy-turvy axe solo is no meek job either, slicing through the melody with supreme mastery. The whopping finale is a equally scintillating, a huge 17 minute foray into the sonic senses that shows itself very deliberate in execution and style. 'Soulprint' has all the innate ingredients that make this a fine track, initiating a flute led pastoral introduction, highly classical in scope with a sublime cello addition that sears the main melody into place. The track then blooms into a more atmospheric expanse with Anna's vocals front and center, taking its sweet time in printing the soul. This is very near to recent Karnataka (the Gathering Light) or Breathing Space, two bands that are in turmoil as we speak but adding a series of emphatic solos to the brew (flute, synth, guitar) that stamp their own signature very distinctly. The quality of the soloists is unchallengeable, clever, creative and emotional.

This is one hell of a wake up call. Truly excellent with numerous highlight tracks that will stand the test of time.

Between 4.5 and 5 Viking Families.

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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