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Epignosis - Refulgence CD (album) cover

REFULGENCE

Epignosis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.91 | 24 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Epignosis continues to create positive music of hope that is uplifting to the spirit.

Epignosis' new album "Refulgence" has a stunning orange tinged cover featuring a woman hidden by a glistening eyeball searing mirror reflecting the sun near a striking red car. The music reflects an equally bright atmosphere, always uplifting and positive with some provocative lyrics. All instruments are played with passion by Robert W Brown Jr, the main preferences being lead guitar and powerful keyboard motifs.

After a short instrumental, the music delves into the lengthy masterwork 'Refulgence'. The lyrics are reflective of the album cover content again; "The air and the sand are met by lightning's hand, and I am glass, the sun whispers down upon the darkening ground, and I am glass" The lyrical content continues to be as thought provoking as the last Epignosis album, with some spiritual awakenings filtering through; "I am not the light, I am not the light, I'm just a cracked little mirror covered with filth and dust" The themes of holding on to our fragile life, of searching for love, changing the atmosphere by positive thinking, and turning our eyes to God are subtle but hold the songs together. The music builds gradually with emphasis on acoustics and keyboards. There are lengthy passages of instrumentation and in particular some dynamic lead guitar work from Rob. Some of the music is sparse with room to breathe and then at other times the music is multi tracked and layered with many instruments like an ebb and flow of waves crashing in and out. The tension and release of the symphonic music are balanced by lyrical intersections. The Christian thematic content is evident but never overbearing. The lyrics could be interpreted in a myriad of ways, such as; "The light of God will be crowned our shouts of joy will resound, All knees, All tongues, All here, All now, All know Him". Those in the know would realise that this lyric is based on the Biblical passage 'every eye will see, every heart will know, every tongue will confess that He is Lord', but of course the Christian lifestyle inspires the music and it is the reason it is created, to glorify God. I am all for that, and it is refreshing to hear some Christian principles injected into prog, without sacrificing it in the name of good music; a similar approach to Neal Morse in this respect.

The next track is 'Bold Eternal Day' (opposite of Dream Theater's 'Dark Eternal Night') beginning with triumphant synth keyboards heralding the verses, and a distinctive distorted guitar generates a heavier feel. The mixture of metal guitar and clean retro synth is so effective. The time sig is off sync and throughout all are interwoven pure lyrics and Rob's distinctive voice. The real surprise here is the addition of crystalline female vocals of Rob's wife Tasha Nichole. I was reminded of Phideaux at times on this track. The lead break is excellent with a very progressive percussive meter and killer keyboard flourishes. This is one of the best tracks yet from Epignosis.

Piano begins 'Hope Maketh Not Ashamed' with cathedral organ sounds and electric guitar riffs. The lyrics are filtered with echoes; "How can we live by these broken rules, We may be weak and we may be fools, To still believe what is proclaimed, Hope maketh not ashamed" I like the way the track builds with an ethereal synth and Tasha joins Rob in the chorus sections. The synth is sustained notes over beautiful piano, and this is enhanced by clean guitar tones continuing the infectious melodies. It really is a work of peace and beauty, and even is reminiscent of Neal Morse in style.

'If The World' is a song of hope that is timely given the current state of the world. The lyrics speak of how to overcome in the midst of the turmoil; "If the world comes crashing down around me, I will not stand still, I would run to the highest place, Where I will never drown" The acoustic guitars dominate and Rob's voice is tinged with sadness yet the ray of hope shines through in the lyrics. There are no drums, keys or bass on this track. It is a simple acoustic piece that says what is wants to say without complex arrangement.

Next track 'Vestibule of Smoke' is more complex with instruments playing off each other, a Spanish guitar feel and a Mike Oldfield style guitar sound. The acoustics are used as a rhythmic foundation under the musicscape.

After this brief interlude, heavier lead guitars pound out a riff for 'Riddles in the Dark'. The heavier style is welcome after all the peaceful moments. Even more welcome are Tasha's gorgeous vocals as she sings enigmatic lyrics such as; "You live where only shadows dwell, Darkness is your only friend, It shrouds your face and hides your evil hands, The puzzles of your misplaced youth, Multiplied throughout the years, Leaving you an enigmatic soul" Rob chimes in on the chorus sections. The feel is a bit darker than previous songs, and one thing that can be said about this album is that the songs are well placed and tell a powerful story as a whole. The music cuts out to allow a minimalist piano to whisper beauty, and then the guitars, drums and keys crash in, with a choral voice augmenting the atmospherics. A great emotional vibe is generated as a result, though it could have continued a bit longer as this could easily have built into deeper themes and a longer instrumental section with more verses.

'A Handful of Humanity' is one of the best tracks with a lengthy intro, very cool guitar riffs and outstanding keyboards. Rob sings of how we have created "a beast of riches and of health" and how we "cower as we watch this creature, granting power to itself." Hope breaks through despite this truth as Tasha sings, "A world is built from other worlds, divided unity" and then the question is posed "What will you do with your hands full of humanity" As the song continues, references are made to the prodigal son, eagles trampled underfoot and "all is vanity". The way that Tasha and Rob trade off vocals is very effective. Once again I would like to have heard an extended version of this track as it holds such beauty but is rather short. Perhaps an extended version of the album would be worthwhile.

Last track features Tasha singing beautifully 'Fade' to Rob's piano. This track is a worship song that could comfortably suit any church service. It is the most blatant in terms of it's Christian message; "Jesus is the light, Jesus is the light, And he has made me a mirror, Reflecting his good face, Jesus is the light, Jesus is the light, And he can make you a mirror by his perfect grace" This is a short piece and should not turn off the unbelievers out there as it simply ends the album with a two and a half minute worship song to Jesus, the reason and inspiration for the album.

My initial reaction is this album is a more polished and better production than the first Epignosis album. The music is stronger and well arranged. The message is dynamic and powerful throughout, Tasha enhances the album beautifully, and there are some inspired tracks. Favourite moments are undoubtedly the epic 17 minute 'Refulgence', the gorgeous 'Hope Maketh Not Ashamed', the outstanding powerful rocker 'Bold Eternal Day', and 'A Handful of Humanity' and 'Riddles in the Dark' that are short but effective pieces. Thanks, Rob, for continuing to create such inspiring, powerful and uplifting music!

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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