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Alias Eye - In-Between CD (album) cover

IN-BETWEEN

Alias Eye

 

Crossover Prog

3.35 | 25 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'In Between' - Alias Eye (7/10)

Despite the fact that their most publicized selling point is the fact that their singer Phillip Griffiths is the son of BEGGAR'S OPERA's Martin Griffiths, ALIAS EYE proves to be a strong force in an area of progressive rock too often burdened by cheese and tedium. Having been around for a decade or so, this band's fourth album enjoys the sort of experience and maturity that could only come with playing together for so long. Although ALIAS EYE's focus on melody in prog rock takes a little warming up to, 'In Between' is a notable album from this German-based act.

Although it may seem counterintuitive to think that a focus on melody would mean that 'In Between' takes time to grow, it's simply not something that many bands under the prog rock banner aim for. When they do, alas, the result is one which often leads to bland power rock with the occasional synth solo, presumably in an attempt to convince listeners that whatever they're hearing is prog. There is not a song on 'In Between' where ALIAS EYE do not build around bombastic vocal melodies and choruses, but there is a much greater ambition than the arena rock drones that first made me wearing of prog's melodic face. Although those starved for song suites and half-hour flute solos will stay hungry here, the songwriting manages to find a fairly comfortable balance between more conventional 'rock' songwriting, and more left-of-centre arrangements. To the seasoned progger, many of these experiments (like the title track's flirtation with jazz) will seem tame, but taken in the context of such concise songwriting, these small leaps of ambition may seem more adventurous than they actually are.

Phillip Griffith's voice is arguably the highlight of ALIAS EYE's sound. While the instruments- particularly the guitar- are handled very well, Phillip's voice is the focal point of the songwriting. To his credit, he sounds much like his father Martin (of BEGGAR'S OPERA) who also makes a cameo on the album. Coincidentally, Martin Griffiths offers his vocals on a cover of his own band; the minor hit 'Time Machine'. Not to mention that this song feels a cut above the writing on the rest of 'In Between', it is very cool to hear the collaboration between father and son, although the two admittedly sound a little too similar to totally tell apart.

The softer, piano-driven 'Stars Shall Fall' is another great track here. Not only does it feature some of the best vocal work on the album, the piano and additional keyboard work are lushly orchestrated. It also works as something of a divide between two stylistic 'sides' of the album. Up to this point, ALIAS EYE plays a fairly conventional form of rock, made 'proggy' with its use of synths and light experimentation. Where ALIAS EYE arguably have the most promise here is on the second half of the album, which takes their melodic brand of prog and boosts it into a relative stratosphere of experimentation. 'All The Rage' is a head- scratcher after a relatively grounded string of rock songwriting; fusing metal, dance music, pop and funk into something oddly reminiscent of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. 'Take What's Mine' could be interpreted as what SUPERTRAMP would sound like if they were playing DREAM THEATER-style progressive metal. All in all, it does not feel like the band lose their bearings completely on the second half, but they definitely save the wealth of their risk-taking for late in the album, and it's frankly a fair bit more engaging to listen to.

From a progressive rock standpoint, the music of ALIAS EYE is tame and at worst, harmless, although that may be judging too harshly. Where the band's strength lies is their penchant with melody, and their skill with fusing elements of prog canon into songwriting that feels neither pressured nor forced. A deceptively eclectic album from a band I'm glad I took the time to warm up to.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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