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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Solid

After a false start in 1971, SBB released their first album in 1975, following it with a succession of fine albums through to 1980. While they reformed to tour together in the 1990s, there was a gap of some 20 years before they returned to the studio in 2002. "The rock" is their third album since that reformation. Drummer Gabor Nemeth is brought in to replace Paul Vertico but the band is primarily a vehicle for the core duo of Józef Skrzek and Anthymos Apostolis.

"The rock" is an appropriate title for this album, as it is solid with a diverse range of styles including hard rock and progressive metal with neo prog and symphonic leanings. The opening "Skala" has the heavy riff of a Black Sabbath track, the song indicating that the band are not simply looking to retread in old paths.

" Płonące myśli" changes the mood completely; this reflective, almost ballad like number offering a fine counterpoint to the opener. Flexibility and diversity are the keywords throughout the album, which offers a pleasing array of sounds and styles. "In heaven and hell" for example is a 7 minute Pink Floyd like instrumental, Anthymos Apostolis' guitar work sounding distinctly Gilmour-esque. The track builds from an ambient, spacey start to an excellent lead guitar workout.

Lyrically, the album is split between Polish and English language songs. The first in English is "Silence", a softer ballad and probably the most commercial track on the album. The following "Sunny day" continues in English, the title being at odds with the sparse, downbeat nature of the song. "My paradise" completes a trio of gentler numbers.

The atmospheric "Pielgrzym" displays Celtic influences, particularly in the pipes like instrumentation and rhythmic percussion. "Akri" continues in a similar vein, Apostolis reverting to the Gilmour like guitar sounds of "In heaven and hell". Jozef Skrzek gives his strongest vocal performance here, full of passion and melody. Skrzek's keyboard work is also particularly notable on this track, as he moves between organ and synth.

The album closes with "Zug A Zene Mindenhol" an anthemic, organ based hard rock number which will surely be a highlight of the forthcoming live performances by the band.

In all, a strong and refreshingly diverse album by these Polish legends. There's plenty of life in the old dogs yet!

This review is based on a promotional copy of the album, kindly supplied by Metal Mind Productions.

Report this review (#151008)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Intriguing release by these veterans of the Polish prog scene.

Mixing symphonic prog and space rock in a highly melodic mix, with hammond organ and layered keyboards as dominating features of the soundscape, atmospheres and moods are explored in mostly slow paced compositions. Guitars are used to enhance atmospheres rather than dominate the songs, melodic textures with slight psychedelic leanings in a manner similar to David Gilmours work in Pink Floyd.

Fans of Pink Floyd as well as fans of modern bands like RPWL should find this release to be of intrest.

Report this review (#163351)
Posted Friday, March 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars The legendary Polish band SBB just keeps on going."The Rock" was released in 2007 and while this doesn't compare to their first three classic albums it's a pretty good record overall.They have toned things down with a lot of laid back music here although early on they rock out pretty good. Cool cover art on this one.

"Skala" is heavy with vocals arriving a minute in. Some nice organ in this one too. "Plonace Mysli" is also fairly heavy but better than the opener. I'm not a fan though of the mellow sections late. "In Heaven And Hell" opens with harmonica and other sounds that come and go in the intro. It settles in at 2 minutes. Some good organ runs in the background as the guitar solos over top.The beat is relentless. It turns spacey 5 1/2 minutes in as reserved vocals join in. Good song ! "Silence" is ballad-like and so is the next one "Sunny Day". Slow moving music and vocals.

"My Paradise" is again mellow with vocals. It picks up with synths before 2 minutes as contrasts continue. "Pielgrzym" is my favourite. It has this exotic atmosphere as almost spoken vocals join in. A beat follows as it slowly builds, then guitar. I would have loved more of this style. "Akri" is pastoral with vocals. "Zug A Zene Mindenhol" opens with organ as a catchy rhythm with vocals takes over.This is good. Catchy stuff.

A fine album that really drags for me in the middle. Still I think mature Prog fans will dig this.

Report this review (#445798)
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Could do with some Vitamin B, perhaps?

Working my way through the band's studio discography, I can hardly wait to get to the more satisfying live releases. But first things first and then - hopefully - time for a massive helping of "dessert".

"The Rock" is another hybrid of mismathing styles, the band has become prone to in recent years. Largely enjoyable, but rather fragmented.

Starting off with a big bang, a heavy riff that would to justice to Black Sabbath, followed by a pleasant Rock ballad. Then the band remembers of their origins and does a nice instrumental run - for a change. So far so good.

Then another reasonable Rock ballad before a painfully melancholic noodling that sounds like Bob Dylan on sedatives. Back to another ballad territory and by this point the wailing, whining guitar prevalent throughout the album reaches the threshold of irritation.

Arabic.Balkan inspired singing then culminates in an enjoyable Moog run before yet another ballad accompanied by organ and more wailing guitar. With different orchestration this piece could have been turned into a memorable one.

"Zug A Zene" is a straight Rock tune with a catchy chorus line where Tamas SOMLO is guesting on vocals. SOMLO was part of early OMEGA, then a circus performer before joining LOCOMOTIV GT on sax, bass, vocals and occasional stilt walking on stage. He has a unique, powerful and truly exceptional voice, unfortunately he didn't make good use of that here.

The bonus tracks are just a bit of lightweight fooling around. Indeed, the entire album represents of just having some fun and perhaps not meant to be taken too seriously? It doesn't really go beyond 3 star category - if at all.

Report this review (#981684)
Posted Tuesday, June 18, 2013 | Review Permalink

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