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Stencil Forest - Opening Act CD (album) cover


Stencil Forest


Symphonic Prog

3.18 | 10 ratings

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3 stars Hailing from Indiana, USA, Stencil Forest was formed in 1980 and led by brothers Frank (guitars, vocals) and Rick Cassella (keyboards).Other members of the early days were Rob Nilson on guitars, Stan Swaim on drums, Doug Andresen on lead vocals and Scott Noyes on bass.Influenced by both British and US prog acts Stencil Forest managed to release the album ''Opening act'' in 1983 on Realtime Records, recorded between November 81' and October 82' at Neon Cornfield Studios in Indianapolis.

Of course these were the hard years for producing quality Progressive Rock music and Stencil Forest had to add some commercial touches among the more progressive tunes to become more acceptable.These touches though did not prevent the band from falling into obscurity, however their debut is an interesting mix of Pomp Rock, AOR, Classic 70's Prog and Symphonic Rock as played today by acts like GLASS HAMMER or AJALON.The more obvious influences seem to be STYX, YES, AMBROSIA and KANSAS, although there are plenty of great multi-vocal harmonies in the vein of GENTLE GIANT.The musicianship is very decent regarding the time of its release and offers easy-going organ/guitar grooves blended with Classical-inspired breaks, atmospheric synths and sensitive vocals.The tracks have rather simple structures, yet the musicianship remains always at a good Art-Rock level, while there is also a vast dose of fast piano paces to be met throughout along with some fine guitar solos.

In 2004 the album was reissued in CD format featuring two bonus tracks.''Five by five'' comes from a 1991 studio performance of a slightly different line-up and this one is a Melodic Rock tune, really catchy and memorable but from the prog past of the band.''Just a Fantasy'' is featured also in an all acoustic version from 2004, played only by Doug Anderson on vocals and Frank Cassella on classical guitar, giving the track a more emotional dimension.

While ''Opening act'' is not a great album even from the 80's prog period, it contains material of high-level musicianship and, if you do not turn your back every time you listen to the word ''Pomp Rock'', this album is sure to offer many moments of pure delight.Recommended.

apps79 | 3/5 |


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