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Verbal Delirium - From The Small Hours Of Weakness CD (album) cover

FROM THE SMALL HOURS OF WEAKNESS

Verbal Delirium

Crossover Prog


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aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars A fusion of crossover with a touch of eclecticism and Greek heritage

I must admit I was not aware of Verbal Delirium before listening to ''From the Small Hours of Weakness'' so this came as a bit of a surprise.

Ploughing through the 50 minutes of the band's second album, I can see the honest effort to express feelings through a multitude of methods and moods. Whether their 'weakness' is expressed via popular patterns, 70's heavy prog, Peter Hammill's and Gentle Giant's quirkiness or majestic piano passages that resemble some of the greatest Greek artists of the previous century (Manos Hatzidakis in particular, although the main composer, Jargon, revealed to me that he had not listened to before composing this album!), here we find ourselves being engrossed in deep, atmospheric, captivating music.

It would be unfair to tag this album as purely crossover prog as there is so much going on here. It is extremely interesting to notice the various 'faces' of Verbal Delirium: alternative and pop mix together in the first half of the opening track, the Muse-influenced Disintegration and the closing Aeons which borrows something from late Anathema; synth-driven dynamic heavy prog appears in the second half of the opening track (2013 Riverside anyone?); a touch of obscure classical music and eclecticism comes in mainly in the instrumental Dance of the Dead (and less in the more melodic Desire) where ELP, Gentle Giant and VDGG all come to mind. What strikes me though (and others, from the reactions of people I have seen so far) is the blending of their Greek heritage into this amalgam. Most listeners aware of the era of Manos Hatzidakis' music will be able to distinguish the passages here that resemble to trademark 70's melodies. The best example of this is Sudden Winter, who some may blatantly call a 'ballad' but surely isn't, and The Losing Game.

The majestic work on the piano surprises me as it shifts from simple melodic tunes to totally obscure experimentations, and this is another high point. Hats off to Verbal Delirium for creating something that really has not been tried and achieved before, something that progressive rock really needs more and more. This must be among the best releases of 2013 for progressive rock.

Ultimate highlight: the nostalgic Sudden Winter, a delirium of senses...

Report this review (#941114)
Posted Monday, April 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars After listening to the debut of Verbal Delirium, "So Close And Yet So Far Away", more than 2 years ago, I was surprised by the personal style in songwriting and orchestration. Since then, I had been curious what their second album would be like. To be honest, based on the apparent musical talent and potential in this band, I was quite optimistic. However, my expectations were (luckily) way below my impression of this album upon first listen...

The band's biggest achievement in "From The Small Hours Of Weakness" is that they retained their character and managed to evolve, obtaining specificity at the same time. The album is quite dark, but not even slightly unpleasant. It is very tight, and yet it flows unstoppably, almost slyly. It is not a concept album, however its structure, the flow of songs, and the transitions from narrative instrumental parts to epic crescendos are "misleading", again in favor of Verbal Delirium.

The album kicks off with "10.000 Roses", kind of a prog hit song, which builds slowly with keyboards and flute and explodes into a stunning British psych/prog middle theme, with Nikitas Kissonas being reminiscent of Keith Cross' (T2) heavy prog guitar style. "Desire" is a typical 70s British prog, keyboard orientated narrative song, mainly influenced by the golden prog era of Genesis. Jargon's dreamy lyrics and vocals are followed by an epic prog outburst and dramatic melodies (superb mellotron here!), which dissolve into a sweet classical outro. "Erebus", a free saxophone (David Jackson style) intro, leads to "Dance Of The Dead", instrumental as well, one of the darkest parts in the album. Wonderfully built with VDGG influences and a touch of RIO, it serves as a passage to "The Losing Game", which starts smoothly with smart and wonderfully detailed orchestration and brilliant vocal lines in the (beloved) Peter Hammill vein. At the end of the third minute, a sweet and groovy guitar melody (mainly like Santana here) enters and is built magnificently until the end of the song. "Disintegration" is the most alternative piece in the album and maybe the most conservative (and yet so progressive). The influence of Radiohead is apparent, as well as Verbal Delirium's own rocking style, with pop/rock vocal harmonies. The piano and the guitar solos here are among the best moments in the album, both technically and inspirationally. "Dance Of The Dead (Reprise)" darkens the atmosphere, as the melancholic melodies of "Sudden Winter" begin. A standout song, a sensational piece of music, this is directly effective, although (or because?) it is purely and bravely sentimental, simple, rich, direct, gentle and delicate. Tony Banks should be proud of Jargon, the mastermind behind Verbal Delirium, who really shines on this one. Apart from early Genesis, there are strong Greek elements here, with Jargon's piano and great mandolin by Kissonas. The album finishes with its longest track, "Aeons", which starts off with "Part 1 - In The Dream Room", a dark, haunting, progressive and energetic piece, which turns into a Greek musical form of psych/prog chaos ("Part 2 - Roaming In Chaos"), which is gradually dismantled to an electronic prog/krautrock (mainly Tangerine Dream here) never ending outro. A song truly worth of its title.

The profound solidity of Verbal Delirium's second release owes a lot to the production and mixing of the album (credits to Jargon and Leonidas Petropoulos). Though the whole thing was recorded at a home studio and is an independent production, the level of sound is really high. Nikos Nikolopoulos (of the great Ciccada) on flute and saxophone adds a lot of prog rock essence to the band's music and taste of sound, which is probably their greatest achievement here. Early 70s British progressive rock is wonderfully blended with 90s alternative rock, while dark, psychedelic and experimental elements add that extra spice to Verbal Delirium's recipe. What's more, the band's music inevitably sounds explorative and fresh; a personal statement on progressive rock, rather than a reiteration of traditional forms of the genre.

A brilliant and addictive album from start to finish, "From The Small Hours Of Weakness" attracts the listener by its unique character, atmosphere and artistic sincerity. Simplicity is rarely so majestic. This is without a doubt one of the best prog releases of 2013 and it has already gained its rightful position among the best Greek progressive rock albums ever.

A near masterpiece, recommended to all fans of progressive music.

Report this review (#943203)
Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow, what an album. Full of great melodies and riffs, it's a melancholic and dark prog metal experience. Any fan of prog metal should download this (it's free!).

The opening song, '10.000 Roses', starts with electronic beats and samples, which reminded me of Radiohead's Kid A album. The line '10,000 roses in my head' is sung (or rather whispered) repeatedly until the song turns aggressive and heavy. With hard riffing, this is exactly the type of music you'd headbang to. The song continues in this fashion, with the '10,000 roses in my head' line coming back, until the track quiets down to finish. Great opening track.

'Desire' starts with a beautiful piano and guitar duet. The lyrics in this track are dark and sorrowful, mirroring the music. This song reminded me a bit of Symphony X's V album. The track turns heavy, and continues, still sounding dark, through an instrumental part and to the end of the song.

'Erebus' is a 50 second saxophone solo, which sounds soulful and melancholic, continuing the mood of the previous track.

A low piano ostinato opens 'Dance of the Dead', which is interspersed throughout the rest of the short song (only 2 minutes and 51 seconds long). There's some nice mellotron-ing (I know that's not a word, but I'm using it) in this track too.

'The Losing Game' has a piano and bass driven verse, especially in the verse which follows the beautifully melodic chorus. The second half of the song is dominated by an instrumental section, in which the guitarist performs a nice, Santana-sounding solo, and the saxophone does a solo too. The inclusion of the sax in this song makes for a truly special experience.

'Disintegration' is in my opinion the weakest track on the album (apart from perhaps the closing song), although it's not bad at all. It's probably the song that you can appreciate the quickest, thanks to the heavy riffs (reminiscient of '10.000 Roses').

The 38 second reprise of 'Dance of the Dead' brings back the piano melody that opened the original track.

'Sudden Winter' is perhaps the most 'ballad-ish' song on the album. The melancholic piano and singing that starts the track is similar to the beginning of 'Desire'. The gorgeous melodies in this track make it a highlight of the whole album. At one point, the music sounds very similar to Pink Floyd. There's a nice trumpet solo in this song too.

'Aeons (Parts 1 & 2)' begins with a sort of evil sounding piano melody, and the track gradually gets heavier. It eventually turns into a long, instrumental (there's singing right at the start though) song. It's good, but is a bit boring at times.

This is a great prog metal album with some fantastic songs. Make sure to have a listen to it if you're a fan of atmospheric prog metal. And well done to Verbal Delirium, for creating such a good album!

Report this review (#943721)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Every year I find myself amazed by the quality of some music that is offered as a free digital download, and although I haven't encountered too many costless stunners yet in 2013 (possibly because I haven't been looking very hard), the second observation from Greek progressive rock act Verbal Delirium certainly amazes. Entitled From The Small Hours of Weakness, the album is a dark, melancholic, and strongly emotional work that explores various styles of progressive rock throughout its duration. Verbal Delirium's latest effort is a stunningly beautiful listen, and every fan of innovative modern prog deserves to check it out!

From The Small Hours of Weakness borrows from both classic and modern styles of prog, particularly the 'quirky' sounds of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator as classic influences, and the strong atmospheres of Porcupine Tree and Riverside as more modern inspiration. I also hear a symphonic touch, especially in the track "Sudden Winter" - I don't think this one would sound out of place on one of Big Big Train's more recent efforts. The avant-garde "Dance of the Dead" brings some of King Crimson's more experimental moments to mind, and the majestic "The Losing Game" has a strong Van Der Graaf Generator vibe, particularly with its use of saxophone.

Each of the tracks on From The Small Hours of Weakness sounds distinct, but the album maintains a cohesive flow throughout, largely due to its melancholic soundscapes and strong melodies. Although Verbal Delirium's music may be too introverted for some listeners, fans (such as myself) of dark and strongly emotional progressive rock will discover a real gem here. One of the finest albums that 2013 has to offer!

Report this review (#983068)
Posted Friday, June 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Greek band VERBAL DELIRIUM can trace its history back to 1999, then formed by main composer and keyboardist Jargon. Eight years would go by before the band's line-up stabilized however, and it wasn't until 2010 that Verbal Delirium released their debut album. Come 2013 and a slightly revamped version of the band returns with their second album "From the Small Hours of Weakness".

If you enjoy bands that incorporate moods, details and style elements from somewhat unusual sources into a progressive rock context, are generally fond of bands that strive for rather unexpected compositional developments and otherwise make an effort to come across as innovative, Verbal Delirium is a band you might want to investigate. As far as a possible key audience is concerned, I'd hazard a guess that those who have albums by Van Der Graaf Generator and Muse side by side in their collections might be a possible fit.

Report this review (#1009518)
Posted Thursday, August 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Although I hadn't heard any music from Verbal Delirium before this, I was aware of one of their members as Nikitas Kissonas was providing guitars at this point, and he of course is also the person behind Methexis who released the excellent album 'The Fall of Bliss' earlier this year. So, I was intrigued to hear this, especially as it has been available free on Bandcamp. Yep, totally free, gratis. Well, it certainly starts slow and during the introduction of the first song I started to wonder what I had let myself in for but all of that was soon blown away as the guys kick in. There are some moments within this album where the music just soars and it is only delicate piano that really holds it all together. It is an album that isn't content to stay within just one area of prog, but moves around and it is more than just the introduction of saxophone that makes one think of VDGG.

There are times when it is experimental, others where it is symphonic, and yet others when it is warm and inviting which certainly makes for an interesting album to follow through the journey. This is something that will appeal to fans of bands as diverse as King Crimson, Gentle Giant, VDGG and even Muse while definitely refusing to conform to anyone's preconceived ideas of what an album should sounds like. Loads of different styles, instrumentals combining with songs and the Sixties and Seventies coming headlong into the current day this is an interesting and intriguing album and at this price how on earth can you resist?

Report this review (#1030462)
Posted Saturday, September 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Despite the rather obscure title and the unfortunate abbreviation of their name, not to mention its connotations with rambling on and on without any sense - unlike, I hasten to add, the writer of this piece, no matter what you've heard to the contrary! - verbal diarrhea is the last thing you could accuse these guys of. Together since 1999, it nevertheless took these five lads from Greece of all places ten years to put together their first official album - though there was a demo back in 2007 which seems to have been deleted - and this is their second effort. I was so impressed by this that I immediately bought their debut, and although I haven't listened to it yet I'm expecting great things. The key factor about Verbal Delirium (no I will not call them VD!) is that they mesh many different styles of music together, as do many prog bands of course, but Verbal do it in a way that surprises and takes you unawares. Take the opener for instance. It's built on a soft little drum pattern with a whispered vocal that reminds me of no- one as much as Matt Johnson, a quiet little piano passage and a gentle little flute sound that recalls seventies Floyd. I can't place it but that keyboard/flute melody is very familiar. Could be classical. Could be Marillion, Zep, or something completely different. Speaking of something completely different, you've just about assigned this band the level of Big Big Train or maybe early Genesis when suddenly it blasts into a heavy guitar and organ riff that you just do not expect.

Mind you, it's almost four minutes into the five-and-change that "10,000 roses" runs for before this about-face happens, and indeed it's that long too before the vocals come in, and quickly thereafter it returns to the soft, pastoral piano and crying guitar on which it fades out. As the kids say, awesome. And a great opener that just reminds you not to judge from the first few minutes of a song, or album. "Desire", then, also opens on a gentle passage of piano and guitar, again recalling early Genesis but with some folk rock added in. The vocal this time is soft, almost breathed rather than sung, and in ways reminds me of It Bites. It may be seen as a racist comment, but I'm constantly amazed how "foreign" singers can sound so English. There's not a trace of a Greek accent here - not that I'd recognise a Greek accent if I heard one - but the vocalist, who goes by the name of Jargon, has perfect English and not a hint of any accent. Like the previous song, this one soon morphs into something more powerful, ditching for a while the Tony Banks style synthesisers for a heavier, perhaps more Spock's Beard vibe, the percussion coming in hard and heavy and some fine neoclassical piano joining the melody before it too all winds right back down into a solo piano ending and into a very short instrumental called "Erebus."

I've read other reviews of this album and the band has been compared to Van der Graaf Generator. I see this now in the instrumental, in the somewhat jazzy brass, but it doesn't last long before we're into a big bassy upbeat piano to open "Dance of the dead", and it's here indeed that Jargon on piano and Nikos Nikolopoulos on both sax and flute really shine. Again I see the VDGG comparisons, but I'm not the biggest authority on that band. I have all their albums but have listened to only one or two, so personally for me the sax brings more to my mind Supertramp than VDGG. Interestingly, this turns out to be two instrumentals in a row. Speaking of Supertramp, some piano very much in their style introduces one of the standouts on the album, the almost nine-minute "The losing game", where the title of the album is mentioned (there is no title track) and again Jargon's voice is controlled but strong, soft yet insistent.

Some fine mellotron recalls the best of seventies prog, and some great sax from Nikolopoulos brings the Supertramp influence back in, along with some very Roger Hodgson guitar courtesy of Nikitas Kissonas; in fact, put Hodgson or Davies behind the mike and this could very well be the latest Supertramp song. If they hadn't gone to total sh*t after the last album. It bops along with real purpose, and throw in some Steely Dan guitar while you're at it, sure why not? Just makes a good thing sound even better. An almost three-minute instrumental outro that really allows our Nikos to give vent to his pipes on the saxophone delivers the icing on this very tasty cake, and we've still got four tracks to go. Well, three and a bit.

"Disintegration" opens on a rising bassline that reminds me of the beginning to Foreigner's "Urgent" then pounds out into a real nice little rocker with hard guitar and a great hook. It's almost metal until some high-pitched mellotron comes in, but then that drops out again and the guitar takes the melody. Sort of a semi-punk feel to it, the likes of Buzzcocks, The Knack or maybe Blondie. Then a sense of Threshold in the midsection with big droning synth and some nicely-placed piano before the bass and percussion brings it all back up to a head and the guitar powers back in. Some fairly manic piano before Kissonas takes off on a really smooth guitar solo and a big organlike finish then takes us into thirty-seven seconds of "Dance of the dead (reprise)", which is of course the third instrumental, though really it's just hammered chords and notes on the piano, sort of marking time before we hit the other standout, the beautiful ballad "Sudden winter".

A rippling soft piano opening from Jargon which puts me in mind of ? well, nothing really. This is Verbal Delirium's own signature sound. Actually, here I can hear a slight inflection in the vocal, but that's nothing to complain about. Makes me think of Riverside, can't say why. Very emotional song, with again a hook to die for; would make a great single but it's about five minutes too long at just over eight and a half minutes. Not too long, not at all: just too long for a single or radio airplay. And there's the gorgeous sound of mandolin, which fits into this song like the slimmest glove fits on a lady's hand. God I love mandolin music! The track ends in the seventh minute but then comes back with a sumptuous piano reprise that just adds a final layer of delight to this beautiful song.

And being a prog album, you'd expect the obligatory epic, wouldn't you? And you would not be disappointed, my friend. "Aeons (Part 1 and 2)" runs for almost thirteen minutes, and closes the album in superb style. The first part is a soft atmospheric melody driven mostly on piano with a gentle, almost sotto voce vocal that mirrors the best of early seventies Gabriel, then it kicks up in about the second minute with a powerful, dramatic, almost ominous guitar and slowly pounding drums with the vocal getting sort of chanty is the only way I can describe it. Not quite a mutter, not quite a growl (a grutter?) before the tempo picks up and the guitar takes over, Kissonas driving the tune now.

I'm not totally familiar with either but I think there's a sort of merging of ideas from Porcupine Tree and Riverside here as the track cannons along, only to slow right down then with a sort of eastern sound - or maybe it's from their native Greece - on the piano accompanied by some nice thumping bass. From here it goes on a sort of spacey keyboard/guitar romp for a few minutes, with echo and reverb and god knows what else, and sort of moaning voices like spirits trapped in a netherworld of ? ah you have to hear it. Bit like the end of "A day in the life", though not really. I think at this point we've crossed over into part 2, though I do find that this section is a little overdone and stretched rather to breaking point. The vocal comes back in around the ninth minute, spoken only though in rhythm, while the effects go crazy in the background, and again I have to say this smacks of a song being extended beyond its natural run just for the sake of it, a thing which a lot of prog rock bands are accused of, often rightly.

It's a pity really as it almost - but not quite - leaves a sour taste in the mouth when you realise how the album is going to end. It's been consistently great up to that point but then it just fades out like a bad Hawkwind remix and you're left with a feeling of being ever so slightly cheated that the epic consisted of about five to six minutes music and almost the same in effects, long-drawn out echoes and moans, and not a lot else. Sad.

Even given the somewhat flat and disappointing ending, there's still so much to recommend in this album that I would almost ignore the last six minutes or so of the closer and just concentrate on the previous seven-and-a-bit tracks. For a band from Greece whom nobody seems to have heard of, this album is nothing short of a stunner, and I can't wait to hear what comes next!

Report this review (#1644856)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2016 | Review Permalink

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