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THE WARMEST SUN IN WINTER

Believe

Neo-Prog


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Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Polish band BELIEVE was formed in 2005 by veteran Polish guitarist Mirek Gil as his new band project. He assembled a band around him fairly quickly, and a number of releases have followed. "The Warmest Sun in Winter" was is their most recent album, and was released through Polish label Metal Mind Productions in 2013.

The 2013 edition of Believe is one that resides in the heartland of the neo progressive universe, sporting gentle symphonic backdrops, melodic guitar soloing aplenty and otherwise compositions of a fairly mellow and controlled nature throughout. A disc that might have become somewhat plain without the strong and impressive lead vocals of Karol Wroblewski . His presence elevates this album markedly however, to the point of making this disc an easy one to recommend to fans of neo progressive rock in general and those amongst them with a strong affection for high quality lead vocals in particular.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#938962)
Posted Wednesday, April 03, 2013 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A warm glow

A little over two years have elapsed since the release of the fine "World is round" album, during which time Believe kept us interested with the superb live DVD "Seeing is believing". Interestingly, for this album violinist Satomi is listed as a "special guest", her presence being restricted to just two of the eight tracks.

Most of the songs are band compositions, with Karol Wróblewski writing all the lyrics (in English). The album's concept is that of a reunion between old friends, who find that their lives have followed starkly different paths, and how their enduring friendship brings sun into their lives.

The album opens with a brief reflective instrumental, "The end", featuring piano and guitar. This serves as an atmospheric prelude to "Beginners", an 8 minute piece written by keyboards player Konrad Wantrych (with lyrics by vocalist Wróblewski). Right from the start, Mirek Gil re-establishes his lead guitar as the principal instrumental sound for the album. The track is majestic, with a strong melody and a fine vocal performance from Wróblewski. It is though Gil's distinctive guitar work that brings out the depth and strength of the song.

The title track is characterised by a delicate, high vocal underpinned by a floating lead guitar. The song is quite simply one of the most beautiful the band have recorded. "Words" continues in a similar vein, the mood being slightly lighter with a multi-tracked vocal on the main chorus. "Unborn/Turn around" is the second of the longer tracks. Here the rhythm section move things into slightly heavier territories, but the emphasis remains firmly on the strength of the melody. Gil's lead guitar harmonises with the lead vocal, the track developing all the while and driven on latterly by a marching drumbeat.

"Please go home" follows on from the band's cover of Marillion's "Chelsea morning" as a tribute to the late Polish music journalist Robert Roszak. Here we get our first chance to hear the wonderful violin of Satomi. The song is the most powerful on the album, Wróblewski's vocals being full of emotion while Gil's guitar prowess is unrestrained. The longest track on the album is the 11 minute "Heartless land", which brings together the moods of the tracks thus far in a slightly retro sounding synth based finale. Gil's lead guitar still prevails, complementing the fine vocal performance.

The album has an additional "hidden" track "The bright day" (not that well hidden though given that it appears in the track listing!). This is the only other song to feature the violin of Satomi, and makes for a pleasantly light coda to the album.

Overall, an excellent album from this highly accomplished Polish band. The changes from the previous album "World is round" are subtle rather than revolutionary. Nevertheless, "The warmest sun in winter" does see the band moving on, and is possibly their most progressive and most cohesive album to date. It is also good to see the guitar Mirek Gil being given such prominence throughout the album.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#951192)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
RJN
5 stars I absolutely love this band, I have every album from them and dig them all, and this newest one might be the best yet, although I will admit to being just a bit disappointed that Satomi only plays on two tracks.

Mirek's guitar playing is just fantastic throughout, besides being one of my favorite guitarists he has to be one of the hardest working people in the music business, any band he is/was involved with is alright in my book, whether it be Collage, Satellite , Mr. Gil and of course Believe, the guy is a machine.

THE WARMEST SUN IN WINTER is a very melodic album with great songs from end to end, and will most certainly end up on my list for top cds of 2013 by the end of the year.

People talk about all the great bands from Scandinavia and it is well deserved, but Poland has a lot of good ones too and Believe is right up there with the best of them. Just an outstanding band led by the brilliant Mirek Gil.

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Send comments to RJN (BETA) | Report this review (#954093)
Posted Saturday, May 04, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars For some strange reason, although I have Believe's debut album 'Hope To See Another Day', which came out in 2006, I haven't heard any of their other releases until this their fifth studio album. Now, given that I have always enjoyed Mirek Gil's work (I am a huge fan of Collage, with Satellite not too far behind) that is a massive oversight on my part, and something that I will definitely need to do something about, and having now played this album a great deal just adds additional emphasis to that as this is superb. Laid back, with an almost Camel-esque feel to proceedings, this is a band where some songs seem to contain just one long guitar solo behind the vocals as Mirek provides incredible emphasis. There are times where he is more Gary Chandler than Andy Latimer, and his impact and contribution to this album cannot be understated.

This is all about atmosphere and melody, and contains some wonderful individual performances as each person adds their own finesse and skill to what is a beautifully crafted and polished album. Karol has a wonderful voice, and Konrad is a fine keyboard player who adds complex layers, but there is no doubt that this album belongs mostly to Mirek whether he is wrenching yet more sustain or simple almost Eighties style staccato notes out of his instrument. This is an album that is accessible the very first time it is played yet has hidden depths and it is only with repeated playing that the listener truly gets the most out of it. This really is the full package, as the well presented booklet containing the lyrics (all in English fits neatly in the digipak, and the music more than stands up to the quality of the presentation. Believe are yet another great Polish progressive rock band at the top of their game. www.believe.com.pl

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#959302)
Posted Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars I really have a soft spot for Mirek Gil, an accomplished fret slinger that has a hallowed reputation in the prog community, mostly for his Collage work as well as solo outings, participating in early Satellite albums as well as launching Believe. I really enjoyed the debut offering, a little less so for the sophomore and ended my fascination as I was spooked by the poor reviews and the average samples for the following two albums. Well, I am happy to report that I am back behind this Polish band's cause as 'The Warmest Sun in Winter' is perhaps their finest achievement to date, the musicians having finally found their peak moulding. Always solid rhythmically with Zawadski on bass and Tafel on drums, the guitar forever sublime, the main target of any concern was the keys and the vocals. Keyboardist Konrad Wantrych is now in a zone and Karol Wroblewski has a superb voice that fits much better with the mellower moods, a fine combination of Steve Hoggarth and Collage/Satellite's Robert Amirian. But these guys were already in place for 'The Bread is Mine' and 'World is Round', so what happened? Truth is that the material presented here is now finely chiseled with a greater attention to musical detail and sensitive impact. Believe has a rather restrictive romantic neo-prog style that needs and begs for sensible arrangements and high emotional delivery, or else it falls flat. Here, the ingredients are spot on and successful.

There is a strong spirit of creativity on their disc, it becomes evident straight from the beginning by naming the opener 'The End', a brief little appetizer with resonating guitar, delicate piano and brooding bass. Lullaby that would make Chopin proud, the tease is on! 'Beginners' wastes no time on impressing the listener, forcing them from casual interest into immediate aural obedience mostly due to Mirek's seductive guitar, a series of soaringly romantic notes that will tear at your heartstrings. Wroblewski's suave voice has both sonic crispness and emotional pretence, dancing around the curling guitar forays, a lead solo that is all Mirek Gil : guileless, trebly, shattering, trembling and exalted. His craft is closer to Latimer or Hackett, a sound that searches for simplicity and utter beauty above anything overtly technical. This is a tremendous track and a foreboding of what will be coming down the line. The title track is classic Believe, where a hushed vocal introduces a glorious melody, the fierce guitar shining brightly in its simplicity, all effect and no cause, we are in ultra-romantic neo-prog mode, a style I particularly admire. Gil uncorks a 'slowhand' solo that would make Eric smile, all feeling and passion. 'Words' just keeps the groove going, perhaps a little more accessible, quite close to Mr.Gil's debut 'Alone' album, a fine prog-pop song that has depth, meaning and memorability, coated with some definite symphonics (mellotron, piano, synths) , a rare bass ditty and s shrieking axe solo to boot. 'Unborn/Turnaround' showcases a little more experimentation, a slow riff builds up the required tension and it gets really hypnotic, tainted by some dense atmospheres. The track is all about restraint and patience, working effectively in getting the right mood for the day. A cute synth section bodes well for another Gil solo, at a slightly higher pitch, military snare drums leading the parade. 'Please Go Home' is a gut wrenching piece, with spirited vocals within a raging delivery , a musical discussion in sample (in Polish) and a whopper axe solo, gritty and insistent. The desperately repeated title hits the mark with unabashed rage. 'Heartless Land' is the epic finale, a piece that adds a lot more detail to the mix, leisurely infusing various sounds and tones into the overture, where an interesting muffled beat plays hide and seek with the bass and guitar, deliberately building up steam. Very groove- oriented and highly atmospheric, this is Believe at its best, with sweet and heavenly vocals warming the soul. The mid-section mellotron is carved up by Gil's massive fretwork, a colossal exercise that will stun the disbelievers (pun!) , the man is a guitar genius. There is a few minutes of silence and then 'the hidden track' which features former full time violinist Satomi , 'The Bright Day' is exactly that, a simple pop song with some sexy violin and a memorable chorus.

You better believe in Believe.

4 Sunny ideals

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#974680)
Posted Sunday, June 09, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Emotional, melodic, sophisticated - 7.5/10

Another nice surprise found on progstreaming.com. "The Warmest Sun in Winter", the new album of Polish quintet Believe, stroke the right chord with me almost from first listen. I am a bit of sucker for both melancholic atmospheres and great vocals, and the album delivers on both fronts. The overall tone of the album is rather sombre and reflective - think about the moods you would find in an Anathema, Riverside or Porcupine Tree album. Yet, Believe's TWSIW does not fall entirely in post-rock/metal territory like the bands referenced above, but maintains a foot firmly planted in symphonic neo-prog, also thanks to the tasteful and elegant arrangements of keyboard player Konrad Wantrych. This is what makes TWSIW stand out for me. And then, of course, there's singer Karol Wobrelski's excellent vocal performance. His lead vocals are truly superb - he has a clear but powerful and expressive voice, and he uses it to great effect. The vocal melodies are also very good as they succeed in being catchy and memorable without being trite and unoriginal. The guitar work of Mirek Gil is another highlight of the album - check out his passionate, inventive solos on "Words" or "Heatless Land".

Coming to the negatives, the lyrics are rather disappointing and really not up to scratch with the music. They are very vague and expressed in a somewhat limited and basic English, and it is really hard to make sense of the story supposedly underlying the album (about two friends reuniting after a long time). The production is also somewhat lacking - I would have wished for a more full-rounded and well-balanced sound. Also, while I do like Gil's guitar playing, I felt his guitar is a bit too much upfront in the mix. But that's more a personal taste. It's also a pity that the violin of Satomi is used on only two songs ("Please go home" and "The Bright Day"), as it is an added value to their already sophisticated sound.

Overall, I am very happy to have discovered this band (kudos to progstreaming.com again!) and to have bought their album, which will often find a place in my CD player, I am sure. I would definitely recommend this to anyone with a taste for melancholy-tinged music and great lead vocals.

**** songs: "Words", "Unborn / Turn Around", and "Heartless Land"; *** songs "Please Go Home", "Beginners", "The Warmest Sun in Winter", "The End" and the "hidden track" "The Bright Day".

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Send comments to lukretio (BETA) | Report this review (#976042)
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another solid album of melodic rock from a team of seasoned, gifted songwriters. My complaint is that their music is sounding less and less like prog--even Neo-prog--and more and more like A-B-A-C-A-B pop ballads. Also, while Mirek Gil's signature electric guitar sound remains, the fire and creativity of his soli are, IMHO, diminishing. If you look at his more recent output, the last two MR. GIL albums, and the last two BELIEVE albums, there are so few times that he really lets loose or hits any orgiastic moments. And yet, I must admit, I remain glued to the songs waiting, hoping--which says a lot for the allure, power and magic of this gifted musician/songwriter. While the singing of Karol WrĆ³blewski continues to get stronger, the songs seem more and more to be vehicles for his mellifluous voice. Still, this is a grower--it gets under your skin the more you listen to it--especially and I'm thankful to be able to give a shout out for two songs in particular which satisfy my prog yearnings: "Please Go Home" (4:51) (10/10) with its wonderful, highly emotional story, lyrics, and vintage Mirek Gil guitar playing--as well as the support of violinist, Satomi--and the first 12 minutes of the two-part finale, "Heartless Land" (14: 46) (9/10).

3.5 stars rated down for being too formulaic and less prog-like.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#1010570)
Posted Saturday, August 03, 2013 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Although Believe has only existed for less than a decade, they've quickly become regarded as one of the elite acts in Polish progressive rock - and with their fifth album, 2013's The Warmest Sun In Winter, it has (once again) become apparent why. The band's atmospheric and moody style of neo-prog easily immerses its listener, but there is also a level of sophistication in both the songwriting and arrangements that sets Believe apart from the pack. Especially when listening to Mirek Gil's tremendous lead guitar work in tracks like "Please Go Home" and Karol Wróblewski's stunning vocal performance in "Beginners", it's clear that The Warmest Sun In Winter is the work of first-class musicians. This is the rare type of album that can provide either an engaging or soothing experience depending on the listener's mood, and this versatility makes for a very easy recommendation. The Warmest Sun In Winter is an essential pickup for any fan of neo-prog!

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#1015867)
Posted Saturday, August 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team
3 stars The Warmest Sun In Winter (2013) is the 5th album of the Polish band Believe and once again released by Metal Mind Records. Metal Mind is one of the most important European labels and they have tons of releases every year, including many great bands and albums.

Believe was founded in 2004 and it's a case of bands that started playing by being influenced by the Neo Prog bands of the 80's and especially the 90's. Their sound can be easily targeted as Neo Prog but you cannot put them exactly within the golden era of Neo Prog, they're the 2000's definition of the sub-genre. Believe's current line-up includes Karol Wróblewski (vocals), Mirek Gil (guitars), Konrad Wantrych (keyboards and vocals), Przemas Zawaddzki (bass) and Vlodi Tafel (drums). The Warmest Sun In Winter (2013) was recorded in Mirek Gil's studio and produced by the band itself.

The album starts with an intro, and funnily enough is named 'The End'. Soon we move on to the second track 'Beginners' that started as a full layered ballad. You have clever guitar melodies and shy and smart keyboards. I have to say that when Karol's vocals come in they don't sound that good but he redeems himself in the chorus with great doubled vocals. But the high point here is the guitar by Mirek Gil.

The title-track 'The Warmest Sun In Winter' has a good solid bass line, but a bit monotonous overall. It's a 'common' song but it has very interesting moments towards the last verse with a different kind of melody. Mirek's guitars are the main force here once again, although the shy Konrad's keyboards appear in the last minute. One thing that bothers a bit is that Karol's vocals seems too 'robotic' due to the use of computer effects. Sometimes it lacks a bit of 'life'.

In the fourth track 'Words' keyboards are less shy and bring us a very good main melody. You also have the first very interesting moments of the drummer Vlodi Tafel. In fact, this track has a bit of every instrument. You also have an interesting bass solo round the middle with a different tone, more distorted. But overall, it is just an ok track cause it doesn't really go anywhere, despite the use of good Hammond organs. 'Unborn/Turn Around' has good 'flutes' right in the beginning, the intro is in fact a great one. Though I would have used a different drum beat in it. Vocals once again are weak with lots of effects or duplicated. At least until the second half when the song changes and Karol redeems himself once again with some amazing vocals followed by piano. I can sense a Peter Gabriel influence in this track.

'Please Go Home' starts as a lullaby that is soon followed by a 'heavy' bit. But the heaviness comes from the low bottom of the band, not from the guitars. Then we have the smartest move by the band, violins. Satomi comes as a special guest and add great colors to The Warmest Sun In Winter (2013). Second half of the song is weird, but in a good way, it includes an intersection with a Polish Radio DJ that is just great. A very good track.

Final track is 'Heartless Land'. Usually I don't like the bass sound of the 5 strings instrument as Przemas Zawadzki uses on the album. But here he uses it in a different and interesting way. The track is full of a dense atmosphere and the guitar bits are like flashlights in the dark. They have written a somber song and managed to fit some 'flutes' again. Then a hidden track comes in. It is called 'The Bright Day' and it's kinda short, with 2'30 minutes long. This track could be easily added to the album as the 8th track if it was a bit longer, once again the violins appear and they could have used it more.

With The Warmest Sun In Winter (2013) Believe achieved a solid album. Not a groundbreaking album but a strong and melodic one. If you're a Neo Prog fan this should be in your collection.

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#1022379)
Posted Friday, August 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars While MIREK GIL is the unquestioned leader of BELIEVE, it seems to me that, where violinist Satomi goes so goes "Believe". Unfortunately, she is absent for all but a few sublime moments on "The Warmest Sun in Winter". To be honest, I'm not sure the string-less material is strong enough to be saved by her presence in any case.

I first heard most of these tracks at ROSfest in Gettysburg, PA earlier this year, and while I generally enjoyed the "sound" and the young look of their vocalist, I found that the composition and arrangements had become predictable. Let's see, start with a slow intro and bring in WrĆ³blewski's warble for a fairly standard low energy verse-chorus pattern that overstays its welcome, and top it off with another Gil solo in precisely the same timbre as the last. Speaking of choruses, do you remember "Yesterday is a Friend"? There the choruses shimmered and, along with Satomi, electrified each tune. Keyboards were scarce but there was such a crispness to the soundscapes, one sorely lacking here, with a much thicker, actually viscous keyboard layering, and generally dreary choruses absent of any of the urgency we have grown to appreciate. If you are going to utilize conventional structures, you need a few hooks.

The main exception to the above is "Please Go Home", which should have been the warning sign at the concert, being the only new piece that really resonated with me. A concise statement of nerve wracking euphoria, it's perhaps the band's finest moment among many, and Satomi's accompaniment only adds to the brilliance.

This is essentially the same skilled band but they seem to have "settled" for the first time. As a result, while a warm sunny glow can be felt here and there, there's not enough of the old fire, especially not where it's needed.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#1072357)
Posted Monday, November 04, 2013 | Review Permalink

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