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Harvest - Chasing Time CD (album) cover

CHASING TIME

Harvest

 

Neo-Prog

3.61 | 20 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Harvest return to the fray with Chasing Time, and a welcome return it is too. The debut, Underground Community, was one of the best albums of 2009, and it is always interesting to see whether a new band can develop and improve. On both counts, this excellent band deliver.

Before detailing the album in full, I would wish to quote a passage from my review of Underground Community. I said: "Forays into harder material are not as effective as much else here. They should stick to the tuneful, because it is clearly what they are best at". Well, thankfully, the band took not a blind bit of notice of me, because it is those very harder tracks which absolutely shine out on this album.

Opener, Roundabout, starts off at a fair old pace, with solid riffs at the heart of an enjoyable rocker, interspersed with melodic interludes. Highlight, though, of the album, and a contender for track of the year, is the incredible The Machine, which deals with an agonising story, that of a boy watching his father burning in the garden shed. Worse, the father has committed the act deliberately, and pronounces "I wanted you to be proud" at the denouement. From a deceptively melodic opening passage, the track develops into a dark, foreboding, and emotional piece of music in which the ensemble excel, with particular mention going to swirling keyboards leading with heavy riffs and a doom laden rhythm section. Quite brilliant.

Those familiar with this band will know of the Marillion connection, and this is taken further by a guest appearance by the great Steven Rothery. This, however, is not the only star turn, for Alan Reed, formerly of Pallas, also provides guest vocals.

To Reed first. He provides vocals on Time Lapse, and his harmonies on this lovely ballad with Monique van der Kolk are another highlight of the year for me, thus far. A track full of melancholic heartache, with some great acoustic guitar work by Jordi Prats, this is special, as is the orchestration that sings at the close.

As for Rothery, he provides slide & soloing guitars on In Debris, and this is, perhaps understandably, the most recognisable song in terms of Marillion influence here, except, of course, there is no cover this time. The band have matured, in my opinion, beyond that. Fans of Steven's work will love it, but it should be made clear that he is guesting here on a Harvest track, and another one that shows their development as an outfit, especially in the heavier moments.

Before commenting on the remainder of this album, I think it might be apposite to point out that whilst Reed & Rothery (especially) might be good friends of the band, the pair of them are far too professional to appear on any old rubbish as merely friends. They guest on material that is worthy of their considerable talents, and this has it in spades.

Their are no epics here, as with the debut. The longest track is the closer, Stars, clocking in at just over eight minutes long. It is a track that those who found much of Happiness Is The Road a great experience will enjoy here, for there is a similarity in the way that a deceptively meandering piece of music can entrance and drag the listener into the experience. Jordi Amela, especially, provides some great keyboards, whilst the rhythm section of Alex Ojea on drums and Roger Vilageliu on bass fairly pound proceedings along. The guitar solos are also excellent, especially as the track concludes.

Elsewhere, we have the lovely Yesteryear, a short track, which marks the passage of time in an all too familiar way for those of us of a certain vintage.

Unknown Skylines is the one track which I have had to listen to most in order to get a true appreciation, but patience has its rewards, for this is similar to some of the best of the debut in that it matches the band's clear prog tone with post-indie sensibilities. Complex, and dark in places, another very solid piece of music.

Silent Run is another track which deals very effectively with a pretty difficult subject matter, this time the betrayal and bullying of a woman by a man, and her flight from the situation. This is another very good piece of music, with the blues right at its heart (if, by now, you were thinking reading this review that Harvest are not your "typical" neo-prog band, then you would be absolutely right. They are far more than that), before exploding into a massive wall of sound that puts many a heavy prog band to shame, and concluding with a dark and heavy strung out riff.

Intuition is a good melodic track, with some nice piano featuring strongly, and another well executed guitar solo to close, whilst The Spell is one of those pieces of music which you want to take to bed with you each and every night. A track about dreams, van der Kolk's vocals are rich, lush, and, honestly, to die for. The denouement is heavily Marillion influenced.

This is an excellent album. It was already on my "to buy" list for 2012 on release, simply because I enjoyed Underground Harvest so much. So, when the band, out of the blue, contacted me and sent me the CD to review, it was a very pleasant surprise.

They haven't disappointed at all. I gave the first album 3.5 stars, rounded up to four because of PA's rating system. For this one, a straight four. Harvest are a very strong outfit, with four fine musicians, and, in Monique van der Kolk, my favourite female prog vocalist of current times (and there is some pretty strong competition for that). Her voice is simply beautiful, and is at the heart of all that is going on here.

Very highly recommended, this is a self released CD available on the band's website now.

lazland | 4/5 |

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