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Earth and Fire - Song of the Marching Children CD (album) cover

SONG OF THE MARCHING CHILDREN

Earth and Fire

 

Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 123 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Metamorphosing into a confident and symphonic progressive rock band, `Song of the Marching Children' sees Dutch band Earth and Fire moving on from the punchy pop/rock of their debut album for something more grand and sophisticated. Lead singer Jerney Kaagman stepped up from being the tough sexy seductress to transform into a gothic chanteuse displaying endless variety and maturity, while the Koerts brothers added layers of thoughtful arrangements and emotional depth. With several shorter songs and one side long piece, this album is usually considered the band's greatest musical statement, and it probably remains their most popular album.

`Carnival of Animals' sounds the closest to the previous album, with that same thick organ and a prancing 60's melody. Jerney plays the fairytale princess here, with circus-like melodies and nonsense `Alice In Wonderland' style lyrics reminding again of the Jefferson Airplane comparisons from that wonderful debut.

`Ebb Tide' also recalls the debut album, a soft and atmospheric slow pop/rocker with breezy flute, gentle organ and hazy guitar effects. Like much of this album, there's some oddly unnerving and bleak lyrics. But just listen to how Jerney's voice seems to be right behind the speakers, purring directly into your ear. We can dream, right?

"The blackbird sings her song at dawn...". Brrr...The richly gothic `Storm and Thunder' shows that above mentioned style shift to great and commanding effect. A somber and serious ballad with lush orchestration, Jerney is a dark mistress with haunting vocals (especially powerful on the chorus sections) recalling vivid words of surreal isolation. It's a stirring and grim work of sinister desolation, fuelled by doomy Mellotron, and I'd like to think this track influenced other somber female fronted modern acts like Paatos and Portishead, with the cinematic styled strings heightening the drama and tension in a similar style to much of those artists' work.

Instrumental `In The Mountain' reminds of fellow Dutch proggers Focus, with tasteful virtuoso organ displays and a dreamy floating melody. The guitar work sounds a lot like Andy Latimar with that lovely fluid guitar style he uses in Camel, and strangely, little parts of this track remind me of the psychedelic Beatles track `Flying' and the gentle washing Beach Boys instrumental `Cool, Cool Water'!

The side long epic title track is full of somber symphonic passages and a hazy psychedelic air. A delicate moody introduction, before booming Mellotron strings and oppressive organs blast the listener. There's plenty of pitch-black lyrics, with Jerney's urgent and threatening vocals pleading. Listen to how confident and commanding her voice has become! Marching percussion, bubbling spacey synths, murmuring bass, reflective acoustic segments and a grandiose and dramatic finale - this track really has it all!

Check out one of the CD reissues with the bonus track `Lost Forever' - ever wondered what Black Sabbath might have sounded like with a ballsy and sultry female singer? Look no further! It's got sludgy chugging dirty guitar and classical metal riffs, and sounds like nothing else on the main album. Extra track `Invitation' is a 60's leftover rocker that switches between slightly moody and downbeat verses with a playfully upbeat and sexy chorus.

Like an unholy alliance of King Crimson and Jefferson Airplane, `Song of The Marching Children' is an exciting and intelligent work by a talented band with a hugely charming lead vocalist. The experimentation and symphonic leanings would progress even further on their next two albums, and it remains a hugely important and well-renowned Dutch progressive album. I still hold more love for their energetic debut, which is a very special album to me, but this is anything but a dud follow up! It's a near faultless album, and Mellotron freaks or fans of female-fronted prog bands need look no further!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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