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Yoke Shire - Masque of Shadows  CD (album) cover


Yoke Shire


Prog Folk

3.96 | 23 ratings

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Steve Hegede
Prog Reviewer
4 stars After reading through the promo of YOKE SHIRE's debut album, and before listening to their music, I guessed that these guys probably played aggressive, riff-oriented, retro progressive rock. In fact, the photos of the band members, who look a bit like members of JETHRO TULL, circa 1972, gave me the impression that they were a TULL-clone band. But, the music tells another story.

YOKE SHIRE are definitely progressive rock, yet they sound nothing like the 70s prog bands that they list as influences. The band seems to have the same philosophy as GENTLE GIANT in that they love to play multiple instruments, and mix different styles of music in the same composition. The various styles of music explored here include latin grooving, heavy metal, English folk, and church-influenced chanting.

The trio seems very interested in building grooves, and creating atmosphere. So, nothing reaches a very high level of complexity, although the mixing of various musical styles gives an unpredictable quality that keeps the ears alert. You might guess that the musicians are leading towards a certain point, but instead they whip out an unexpected groove, or introduce new instruments. The impressive thing is that it all sounds very smooth, and never awkward. At first, the vocals on a few tracks surprised me, though, they quickly became enjoyable. The vocal style here reminded me of the bluesy, yet oddball, vocals on Frank ZAPPA's "One Size Fits All". There is a non-serious element to the lyrics that is unusual when compared to the typical, serious, prog vocals on other modern albums. Anyway, this is one of the top releases from 1999.

Steve Hegede | 4/5 |


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