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Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This disc would have garnered another star if the lyrics weren't so blatantly "christian." Lyrically, it's too preachy and there is something about the singers delivery which doesn't work, FOR ME. Too bad. Musically, they are very solid. Drummer Doug Meadows has a heavy Bruford-like style, lots of snappy snare work. Keys and guitar challenge each other nicely. The bass player really holds down the bottom. If these guys would learn to tone down the preaching, be spiritual without sounding like an everyday christian rock band, they'd have chance of vying for "best New Prog" honors.

Maybe they could tour with Neal?

Report this review (#19125)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is very nice music from this American band. Their sound is similar to the U.S. prog rock bands of the '70's like Yes but with a modern neo-prog feel ala the Flower Kings. The songs are complex yet still very accessible. All band members are proficient and play extremely well. The guitarist is the standout. Melodic playing that at times can flirt with neo-prog metal. The first song is very catchy with a memorable riff, yet full of proggy twists and turns and the whole album has a good flow to it. Very recommended. The band is a Christian progressive rock group but they are not "preachy". It's funny though to me how Christian prog bands get such a bad rap. YES, they sing about what they are passionate about but why is that different then a reggae band that sings about their spiritual beliefs or about folk/prog bands that sing about mother earth and other earthly spiritual ideals? Only Christian prog bands get their ratings lowered for their spiritual lyrics. I have no problem with a band singing about what they are passionate about whether that is God, Bhudda, fairies, their country or whatever.
Report this review (#19129)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3 1/2 stars actually. A very enjoyable CD, but not a masterpiece. Akacia has somewhat of a 70's sound to them. The musicianship was excellent. The vocals were good, but not as stong as the instrumentation. The songs were good, with Journal approaching excellent. A very good debut. The lyrics have a strong Christian message to them. While I would recomend this CD to anyone, I would particularly recomend it to any Christian prog heads, as there isn't very much Christian progressive rock that I have heard out there.
Report this review (#19130)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Hard/symphonic progressive rock band hailing from Massachussets,USA,who have been around since 2001.Focusing on writing lyrics around Christianity,AKACIA produced and released independentaly their first album ''An other life'' in 2003.The album consists of only four tracks,two of them being decent epics of 16 and 22 minutes length respectively.

Their sound is a weird mix of YES-styled symphonic progressive rock with rockin' parts and boogie KANSAS-like grooves.There are lots of good alternating electro-acoustic passages,while sometimes the musicianship tends to be quite complex.I notice the nice keyboard work,going from atmospheric fillers to great WAKEMAN-ish acrobatics,but I find the guitars to be a litlle raw for a work/style like this and the sound oftens tends to be very ''boogie'' or their rough sound spoils the good organ work.Additionally,singer Eric Naylor sounds nothing like Jon Anderson,but after several listenings I think he should try this direction,as his vocal lines sound very amateur and ''American'' or even out of tunes sometimes.

All in all,AKACIA tried to come up with a decent debut,but I count the negatives to be slightly more than the positives of this album.So,2 stars for this debut and a recommendation only to YES-lovers,if the ''boogie/hard'' factor won't spoil their prog taste...

Report this review (#218825)
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars An American band tries to spread the good word.

In USA, people do God more than over here in Europe. As an European, the blatant preaching here makes me take two steps back and away from the band. This is a cultural thing. Please believe in Jesus Christ, but please do that in private. Don't preach about it on an album because you will scare a lot of people away. It is like telling people that you are a carrier of plague. People will scatter in all directions if you do that in Europe. In USA, on the other hand.........

When overcoming the blatant preaching here, the music is not that bad. I am not sure where these strong references to Yes comes from. If you listen to the track Mary, references to King's X is pretty blatant. The rest of the album have a lot of references to this band too. There is a lot of references to Kansas too and even to Cathedral. OK, I concede that there is some Yes references here. But they are not overwhelming strong. There are also some fusion elements on this album. I also get a lot of strong Bad Company vibes here too.

The music is driven by Hammonds and guitars. It is helped by some boogie piano. The vocals are pretty good. The drums and bassist is good too. Akacia has the classic setup.

Mary is the only really good song here. The rest of the seems a bit underwhelming anonyme. To put it simple; the songs here are not good. This album does not have an identity and I would not be able to pick the band or album in a blindtest. It is a decent debut album and just that. 2.5 stars is all I got.

2.5 stars

Report this review (#259045)
Posted Sunday, January 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Fortunately, I can be quite deaf on meaning of the lyrics, when I want to. Therefore, only "preaching" word I heard was "Jesus" once. So, I'm pleased by fact that I am not affected by this religulous message as others are. And yes, I don't like it too.

Because now it's not about faith, but about grooves, about pretty damn fine music that's behind this wall of worshiping and as such, I'm going to rate it. When I heard An Other Life, I was quite surprised, because this song isn't exactly the most formal one. It has no intro and goes straight to the point. When I heard their later album, I had weird feeling of something I've already heard before. Yes, this is fine by me and doesn't hurt so much as it hurts others (as it seems), but this nervous feeling was there.

No such thing here, just originality. If it steals from some sources, it's not so noticeable. Reminds me also Echolyn a little bit. And as I said, grooves are here and they literally rocks. They're important thing here, moves entire album somewhere else, to the land of better part of Prog. Some nice jamming, solos, changes of moods, everything works perfectly for me. Interesting sounds to be found here. Really sad that this is so underrated, but I understand why. I understand completely, because I would feel the same. Yes, I'll "get" the lyrics after a while, but by that time, I'll like this music so much that I won't object and will "suffer" through it. Because of the music. Well, not suffer, but just overlook.

After all, lyrics in Prog aren't the most important thing, not by far.

4(+), get over, get into, get out with great feeling.

Report this review (#275692)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Akacia claimed themselves as a band that takes its musical roots from the vintage bands like Yes, Genesis with some combination of new sounds from new prog bands (the 90s like The Flowe Kings). They also take a standpoint that their music is different from others. An Other Life is their debut album which contains many footage on guitar solo. The album consumes an approximately one hour of music spread into four tracks.

The opening track which is also the album title track "An Other Life" (16:36) is structured with five movements I) An Other Day II) Dust You Are III) Your Calling IV) I Look Out and V) No Other Life. The bend seems to craft their effort to make this opening track as good as possible using many solo works of guitar and keyboard. The guitar sound to dominate the whole track. There are many changes of mode and tempo where the transitions do not seem to sound smooth to my ears. I think they benchmarked their musical structure with what Spock's Beard did with the first three albums.

"Mary" (6:41) takes its music form in the vein of blues rock like what Jimi Hendrix did. The music is quite good and entertaining. If you like classic rock that dated back in the 70s, this song suits your need as you can hear the sound of Hammond in its background. "Hold Me" (11:02) is truly an excellent composition with vintage intro part combining organ and guitar work. The music turns into blues rock in slow tempo exploring guitar and later keyboard work. Vocal line only enter in the middle of the track after relatively long instrumental piece. No doubt if you like 70s music, this is definitely yours. It's really excellent.

The concluding track is an epic "Journal" (22:41) that comprises seven movements: I) The High Call of God II) Dance of Days III) The Visceral Melee IV) Weight of Glory V) The Beatific Vision VI) Mystery VII) Sands VIII) Insufficient Gratitude. Even though its basic composition is something like modern prog music however the nuances of the music still remind me to the vintage rock music. It's probably determined by the singing style, guitar work and organ sound despite the fact the blues style it has.

Overall, I can say that this is an excellent album even though the opening track sounds to me not a natural composition but the other three tracks a re excellent. You may like opening track as well as it's really prog to the bone. But it's not for me. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#283790)
Posted Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars It seemed to be the perfect album to have for someone like me who just loves symphonic prog music above all things musical. Akacia´s biography says those american guys work was influenced by such 70´s classic bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP and King Crimson. And when I saw that the CD has only four long tracks it just seemed to fit right in! I was ready to see myself listening to those long symphonic prog tracks that take me to a delightful journey through the pleasure of hearing heaven singing. So I was quite surprised when I put the record on my CD player. I could dardly find any trace of those aforementioned bands on Akacia´s An Other Life.

Akacia here plays a kind of heavy prog with some slightly symphonic overtones in some parts, but they´re main influences are not Yes neither Genesis(or any other classic prog stuff for the matter). Not that they are bad: in fact, they are quite good musicians and clearly the drummer and the guitarrist are excellent players (but Doug Meadows is not in the Bill Brufford fashion as one reviewer claimed). But they are clearly influenced by 70´s blues based rock bands like Mountain. And the guitar lines are more rooted in the blues school of Clapton or Page than the classical styles of Hackett or Howe. Keyboards are a bit subdued too, which is very strange to a band labeled as ´synphonic´.

But Akacia´s main problem is their songwriting. The four long tracks have some very good ideas that looked like they were put together without much working: they simply sound tedious after a few minutes and the dynamics are not the best. The first song, An Other Life is a typical exemple of that: a combination of different melodies and rhythm patterns that comes and goes without much cohesion. Eric Naylor seems to try to reach certain notes his voice clearly is not really capable of. I don´t mind the preachy lyrics, though, like several reviewers do. I´m from a non english speaking country anyway and I´m used not to bother with such things.

Conclusion: good band, green compositions, a bit of a lack of discipline on the arrangements. They would do much better if they had worked out those songs a little more before entering in the studio to record them. I wonder if their follow ups are improvements over this one. One day I´ll take my chances with another of their albums to see if they fixed those problems. An Other Life is not a bad record if you like heavy rock with some symphonic hints here and there. But son´t expect too much. Rating: something between 2 and 2,5 stars.

Report this review (#284227)
Posted Sunday, May 30, 2010 | Review Permalink

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