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OF SUN AND MOON

Overhead

 

Crossover Prog

3.85 | 57 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Of Sun and Moon' - Overhead (8/10)

To those who attest progressive rock is dead, I would suggest they simply aren't looking hard enough. To be sure, the 'vintage' approach to prog has long lost its contemporary relevance, and it's become fairly clear that many of those bands have missed the point of what the artistic movement was all about. At the same time however, there are bands out there that have been doing their darnedest to expand the scope of current-day rock music. Bands like Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, and- to a lesser-known degree- The Pineapple Thief, The Tea Club, and Finland's Overhead have successfully revived the spirit of progressive rock music. While some of these- namely Muse- have received recognition that even dwarfs the popular success of bands amidst the progressive scene's early 70s zenith, many of the modern, or 'post-prog' scene's brightest stars have garnered limited attention outside of the style's fans. Overhead are one such act, and one I may never have had the pleasure to hear, had the band themselves not introduced their music to me. Their fourth album and latest venture, 'Of Sun and Moon', consolidates their proggy-yet-accessible style, offering up something that should appeal to prog rock aficionados and newcomers alike. In a word, it's modern progressive rock done right.

Not unlike Muse, Overhead find a powerful blend of styles between alternative rock, prog, and electronica. Also in the vein of Muse, there is a notable focus on traditionally effective songwriting conventions. Although Overhead dares to experiment with 6-8 minute songs towards the end of the album, it's a rare occurrence for Overhead to long ignore a hook, chorus or recurring motif. 'Berlin' and 'Aftermath' each sport anthemic choruses that would rock the airwaves if given the proper chance. Catchy rock rhythms are often paired up with electronic instrumentation to give the band's more energetic moments a nearly danceable element to them. It's commonplace throughout the album to hear frontman Alex Keskitalo's vocal melodies leading the rest of the band. On paper (or screen?) alone, this may appear a more apt description of a pop record than a rock album, much less one of the progressive variety. In fact, it's this use of accessible elements that makes Overhead feel modern in the first place.

I may be misquoting Steven Wilson on this, but the Porcupine Tree frontman once stated (around the time of 'Lightbulb Sun', I believe) that it wasn't the songwriting per se, but the way the songs were executed that made Porcupine Tree a progressive group. The same principle applies to Overhead as well. In spite of the catchy songwriting, Overhead fuel their performance with plenty of sounds plucked straight from prog rock canon. Underneath 'Berlin's driving chorus, there is a thick, spacey keyboard arrangement that makes it sound like they could be rocking out on the moon. 'An Afternoon of Sun and Moon' pairs up memorable melodies with a weird syncopated rhythm and eerie synthesizer atmosphere. 'Grotte' represents Overhead's most proggy elements rolled into a short instrumental; psychedelic guitars, flute solos and musical madness prevail for a few minutes before returning to a relative normalcy. The production and standard of musicianship are as good as you're bound to find, even compared to some of the most successful rock acts out there. Keskitalo's voice can sound a little gruff at times for the band's hook-centric melodies, but he's got a great, distinct tone to his vocals, particularly during the melancholic 'Last Broadcast'. There's some greatness to be heard in the way Overhead present these tracks, and by the end of the album, there's no doubt as to their prog-credibility. I mean, their singer also plays flute, and I'm almost absolutely certain that's had to have happened in progressive rock somewhere.

'Of Sun and Moon' is an ultimately fitting title for this album. There are plenty of things that- at first glance- seem contradictory going into the album. At the end of the day however, Overhead make it work. Darkness and light. Pop and prog. It's a musical direction that's been taken before, and Overhead certainly aren't the first ones to be successful with it. Of course, that shouldn't go any lengths to discredit what the band have accomplished here. To those who may have thought progressive rock was dead, check out Overhead. You might leave the experience with another opinion.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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