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Violet District - Terminal Breath  CD (album) cover

TERMINAL BREATH

Violet District

 

Neo-Prog

3.00 | 19 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Take my review with a grain of salt, as Neo- Prog (along with Prog Metal) tends to be my least favorite side of the prog spectrum. Having said that, I must admit that "Terminal Breath" is good enough to keep me relatively impressed, if still not quite a convert. While replete with the crystalline tones of the mid-to-late 80's, VIOLET DISTRICT does more with the usual elements than almost any other band of the era; it could serve as a perfect example of what the Neo- Prog genre aspired to, and rarely achieved.

To put it into more 'mainstream' terms, the sound is roughly somewhere between "Power Windows" era-RUSH and "Momentary Lapse"-era PINK FLOYD. Sparse but textured verses trade time with heavier, metal-inflected choruses and instrumentals. The guitars switch from crisp effected arpeggios to smoothly distorted leads- all familiar territory to anyone who turned on their radio in the late 80's. The synths are typically of the digital variety, alternating between washes of bright string sounds and tinkling FM bell tones and effects, but the occasional sweeping analogue does appear from time to time. Mischa doesn't have a wide stylistic range, but his vocals are clear, solid, undeniably Teutonic (though delivering lyrics in English doesn't seem to be a problem), and sometimes surprisingly expressive. More 80's legacies include a bass which has a very plastic, almost synthetic tone (but is nevertheless well-played), and precise drums wrapped in digital reverb (less impressively played, but still more than competent). The performances are tight and each musician contributes to the whole, always focused on the song rather than showcasing their respective skills. Honestly, the real stars of the show are the subtle but ever-present details; there's frequently several little things going on, often in the way of synth effects and 'found sounds', that really give space and color to the mix without ever overdoing it.

The songs are well-structured and full of movement. The album goes by surprisingly quick but unfortunately leaves little impression on me afterwards- I had to give "Terminal Breath" a few listens before I could really distinguish passages of one song from another. "The Age" is perhaps the most immediately distinctive track; it's a great example of Neo- Prog's attempt to have the progressive rock mentality meet mainstream accesibility halfway. While it doesn't have the heart of MARILLION or the drama of IQ, I can see most fans of Neo- Prog really warming to VIOLET DISTRICT. Ultimately, the album sounds just fine to me, but I'm positive that others will be able to appreciate it much more.

James Lee | 3/5 |

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