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Faithful Breath - Fading Beauty CD (album) cover


Faithful Breath


Symphonic Prog

3.23 | 59 ratings

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3 stars Let me tell you about a dream I've been having lately. A kneeling figure, the personification of 'Fading Beauty' perhaps, trembles below a sword that hangs above by a single horse- hair. I don't know the meaning of this dream but it nonetheless disturbs me.

I'm also trying to make sense of Faithful Breath's bandpage and I'm genuinely curious about what other members will have made of the recent spate of 1- and 2-star reviews for these German orphans. I'm only familiar with their two prog albums so I have absolutely no comment to make on the merits or de-merits of their non-prog output. Faithful Breath was actually one of the earliest German symphonic bands and this album comprises two sprawling epics that rely heavily on Mellotron and Hammond organ. Keyboards-player Manfred 'Carl' von Buttlar is generally credited with having steered the band in a symphonic direction so it's no surprise that their progressive leanings bit the dust when he left after their second album.

The album itself induces a certain feeling of melancholy and the despairing emotional currents of the hymnal music are matched by its sombre, morbid lyrics. Take for example the narrative of 'Tharsis' in which the planet Earth is the titular bird's egg that will one day hatch, an inevitable event that is heralded by frequent earthquakes. The main themes of this story - the virgin birth of a winged goddess whose spouse, in this case the wind, is an invisible unknown; creation and destruction of the world; the idea of death as a rebirth - have strong echoes of Greek creation myth and the cosmogonic cycle. Talk about being pretentious; I'm sure I've seen this album described somewhere as 'overblown nonsense' but isn't that part of the dictionary definition of symphonic prog? If not, it should be.

Anyway, it's a pity that this highly schismatic band's later output seems to have taken the shine off their first couple of prog albums. 'Fading Beauty' apparently has legendary status as a lost classic in some quarters but just because it's obscure doesn't make it a masterpiece. At best it's a fairly average symphonic album. The material on the sophomore 'Back On My Hill' is actually stronger and more dynamic despite it being a largely song-based album. I seem to be in a minority of one in liking that album though; it's lonely sometimes in the wondrous city of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

seventhsojourn | 3/5 |


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