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Ben Craven - Great and Terrible Potions CD (album) cover

GREAT AND TERRIBLE POTIONS

Ben Craven

 

Crossover Prog

3.76 | 46 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars One of my favorite albums from 2011 was Ben Craven's Great and Terrible Potions, which is a symphonic journey full of exciting twists and memorable melodies. I highly recommend this to fans of Kansas and other such bands that have orchestral finesse but also a penchant for occasional straightforward rock excursions- a real gem.

"Diabolique" The door to the secret chambers creaks open and the sound of an ominous music box leads into a piano introduction. Loaded with organ, punchy bass, and other elements, this symphonic rock overture introduces the listener to one of several melodic themes.

"Nobody Dies Forever Part 1" The first song, with slide guitar and trembling bass leading the way, has a cabaret feel. Craven's voice is clean and low in the verses, but soft and airy in the refrain. A screaming guitar solo finishes things off.

"Aquamarine" Atmospheric keyboards and distant vocals create a tranquil, almost out-of-body experience, as though one is about to kiss death and can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. A bluesy guitar breaks the spell. The dreamy rock music that follows somewhat references Pink Floyd.

"Ready to Lose" This is a catchy acoustic rock song that reminds me of Spock's Beard on their more acoustic moments. It does become more energized after the first verse, bringing in electric guitars, bass, drums, and a vocoder.

"The Conjurer" Exquisite piano introduces the bittersweet twang of the guitar, and overall, this moves and feels like an opus from the Electric Light Orchestra- it just needs Jeff Lynne's voice and falsetto harmonies to complete it. The guitar solo, however, sets it apart.

"No Specific Harm" The first of two extended songs (and one of the best on the album) has a moody backdrop with grim guitar. As the drums enter, the music seems cinematic, like the perfect soundtrack for an army in a fantasy film marching to battle. The music is painted darkly, with hushed vocals and a very memorable, sinister refrain.

"Solace" As the title implies, this interlude on classical guitar is quite peaceful, warm, and inviting, eventually adding piano and other light keyboards, and finally a heartfelt lead guitar.

"Nobody Dies Forever Part 2" Craven briefly revisits the second track.

"Great & Terrible Potions" The second extended piece, the title track, begins with a natural-sounding voice and piano. The instrumental interlude has a variety of bellicose keyboards. The song also features the skillful lead guitar work the rest of the album has shown previously. The music box plays once more, and the door to this nightmarish, alchemic world is shut.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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