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Echolyn - Suffocating The Bloom CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 298 ratings

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4 stars Splendid opera from one of America's finest exponents of challenging rock music, Suffocating the Bloom gives meaning to the phrase 'magnum opus' and showed everyone what ambition really is. Unaccountably, someone at Sony recognized the same thing and Echolyn was given a major deal. The rest is history but it reminds of how times have changed. Had it been 1977, the band surely would've attained the mythic proportions of the superbands of that era. Or perhaps they have. Either way, we have the music, and for that we're grateful.

Frequently loquacious and not always pitch-perfect, Suffocating is not without flaw. But that's exactly what a thing like prog rock needs from time to time, something to work against the technical demands and penchant for precision, to lightly aggravate with a pinch of sand the oiled wheels of such a high-performing unit as Echolyn. It is a comforting indication that these are still just five guys from Pennsylvania. There is a longing here, a passion for their music and what they know is possible, and that's nice to have on record. '21' wastes no time presenting the motif, imagination on high as reflected in the thoughtful lyrics and Ray Weston's heady, Michael Sadler-like vocals. Sprightly and nostalgic 'Winterthru' follows where more distinct Saga colorations begin to peak out that will resurface throughout, and workingman's daydream 'Memoirs from Between' is full of great little changes and surprises.

A bit of pastoral Genesis for 'In Every Garden', a magnificent centerpiece with subtle ecologic statements and emotional chord progressions, and the Becker & Fagen influence is heard in 'A Little Nonsense' (not to mention a Willie Wonka reference sure to please boomers who know there's only one Wonka). 'One Voice' carries a mild Gentle Giant flavor but frankly the comparisons to that band are exaggerated; Some nice dynamics and vocal chorales for 'Here I Am', a terrific cut easily missed; And the disc finishes big with twenty-eight minute 'Suite for the Everyman', a distractingly impressive epic far too involved to describe here. Let's just say it's worth catching. In fact Suffocating the Bloom is, it must be said, a must-have for anyone who appreciates the creative struggle, that seemingly endless climb not to the top of the charts, but to the center of your self. I approve.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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