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Mellotron Storm
4 stars OVRFWRD are an all instrumental band out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The music here is quite varied with plenty of time and mood changes. It is quite heavy at times and we also get a Fusion vibe with those keyboards. I like the flute they've added in places and while all four of these guys are amazing players, the drumming really stands out for me.

"Fantasy Absent Reason" is the almost 17 minute opener that will take us to many places on our listening journey. After a restrained beginning it kicks in fairly heavily around a minute. Hell yeah it does! Love this stuff. Another calm a minute later and you better get used to the contrasts of the heavy passages with the mellow atmospheric ones. Organ leads after 3 minutes as it settles back. A nice laid back guitar solo soars 4 minutes in. Riffs after 6 minutes then another calm as the piano leads. It's building around 11 minutes and it seems like they are jamming here with some incredible drum work, guitar and piano. It settles back again after 14 minutes before picking back up late to a catchy sound. I'm not blown away by this suite but it's really good. "Brother Jack McDuff" has this catchy organ driven melody that I'm not the biggest fan of. I like it better when the guitar leads before 3 minutes. A complete change after 3 1/2 minutes as it calms right down but it's brief.

The next three tracks are my favourites. "Dust Nova" opens with some relaxed guitar and piano but then we get a beat only after 1 1/2 minutes before some intricate guitar and atmosphere joins in. It kicks into gear after 3 minutes and I like the way that guitar melody seems to go in circles. The drumming here is relentless. Great sound and the electric piano is raining down as well. A calm 8 minutes in as we get random drum patterns, electric piano and bass that comes and goes. "Utopia Planitia" is a little different with that flute giving a different colour to the proceedings. Did I mention that I really like the flute on this one? Some nice guitar work starting around 3 minutes and soon he's lighting it up. So good! Check out the heaviness before 4 1/2 minutes with synths over top. More killer guitar before 7 minutes as the drums and piano also impress. "Creature Comforts" opens with electric piano and intricate guitar melodies before this Van Halen-like guitar line kicks in and it will come and go as the drums join in. Love the gorgeous section before 2 1/2 minutes that moves me, and it returns a minute later. Just a pleasure.

A must for those who are into some intelligent all-instrumental music. These talented guys need to get more known.

Report this review (#1535984)
Posted Saturday, March 5, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ovrfwrd's Chris Malmgren contacted me asking for a review and I obliged due to the fact that I had remembered Mellotron Storm's comments in his recent review and of course, if John says it's good, well, it's good! I had a sense that the music was going to be somewhat reminiscent of fellow American band Carpe Nota , whom I enjoyed immensely, both being all-instrumental affairs with a great amount of sonic depth. I am glad to report that this is a real sizzler, as any album that starts off with some harpsichord (my favorite classical instrument) is always going to seduce this reviewer.

The highly melodic album kicks off with a whopping colossus title track, a brooding, intense, contrast-laden monolith of delicious sounds. Malmgren spreads electric piano, acoustic piano, organ and synths liberally, displaying elegant technique and ornate style, while expert guitarist Mark Ilaug enjoys the Frippian weaving patterns that highlight the master's latter career but adds rash riffing as well as seriously bent guitar forays that wink at masters such as Allan Holdsworth. Bass guitar is held rather nastily by Kyle Lund, who seems to enjoy rampaging around the low end and being quite bothersome. But as already mentioned by my colleague, drummer Rikki Davenport really steals the show, being both technically spot on as well as liberal with his thumping flashes of genius. The roller coaster ride goes from serene to cyclonic, definitely on the edge of impending chaos and yet controlled and measured, always dependent on atmospheric variations and sheer brilliance, killing it with a pulsating ending that has jazz, blues and rock overtones that are outright dazzling. Ridiculously tasty!

'Brother Jack McDuff' is a different kettle of fish, the Malmgren organ really churning profusely, almost like a modern version of Booker T and the MGs, with buzzing guitar accompaniment and a choppy rhythmic alliance. Ilaug then rips off a bluesy rant at breakneck speed that will dazzle the jaded listener into outright obedience. Davenport bashes monstrously again.

Things settle down with the tranquil 'Dust Nova', a brief respite from the storm, almost like 'Borboletta' era Santana, Davenport doing some exceptional work on the drum kit, simplicity and technique winning the ears over, as the mood languishes in some dreamy oasis of sound, slowly building up in intensity. Jazz turning slowly into rock, heavy prog to be precise. Soon the howling guitar winds sweep into the horizon, bringing dense clouds of power into the once sweet expanse. Slashing and relentless, the pounding becomes monumental and grandiose, another fine display from these accomplished players. The final moments revert back to a more jazz approach, cymbals and the piano aglow again, in unison.

Flute? Really? Wow! Well, these Minnesotans can claim a certain flair when it comes to being creative, as 'Utopia Planitia' keeps on giving the goods, flirting with creative tempos and colouring constantly with new ideas, the rhythm solid and the soloists thoroughly on the ball, as Ilaug gets nasty on the lower registers of his electric axe, very rock and roll, recalling gents like Trower and Page. Malmgren then adds his two cents worth, one hand on the piano and the other on a synthesizer that likes to go haywire. Tense and then intense, the brooding magic seduces to no end. Or at least until the delirium settles in!

The final track is another scorcher that starts off in a bluesier environment, Ilaug picking nicely before things get more excitable, shifting drums and electric piano (such a brilliant instrument!) in tow. Things settle into a more linear mode but still usurped by the insistent axe buzz until a new plane is reached. 'Creature Comforts' ends this release on a very comfortable and confident note.

This is available only as a download or vinyl with a cover that will blow your eyes. Rest assured the music inside will blow your ears and mind. Yes, these are very talented guys who need to be better known and appreciated, as they provide an exhilarating experience that will stand the test of time.

4.5 Unreal Vague Motives

Report this review (#1540004)
Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2016 | Review Permalink
RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars I have been rarely disappointed with a instrumental Progressive Rock album. This is another instrumental band and this their second album. The opener and title track of 17 minutes show you what the band can do best with plenty of groove and a nice rhythm section supported by a good dose of piano. We can hear flash of King Crimson and the Us band Discipline with a dark mood finishing in a furious pace with some heavy guitars. The second song is a complete change of mood with that bluesy feel and Hammond organ. In "Dusta Nova", the guitar is leading with drums and piano building the melody slowly and with some repetitive pattern, almost spacey atmosphere. "Utopia Planitia" has a flute intro with a beat that is growing slowly before a guitar solo break to get to some heavier and faster pace. I am again seduce by that drums that play a duel with the piano, the guitar is at it's most heavy on this song. This is the most complex and intense song of the cd with some unpredictable twists. The last song is a lighter song with some special guitar effects. This is another good cd, the long tracks being of high caliber, i can tolerate some less greatness in the short tracks.
Report this review (#1540495)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fantasy Absent Reason, the second, (and latest), album by the instrumental prog group, Ovrfwrd, a recent arrival to the US prog scene in 2012, and made their studio debut in 2014.

Now I would like to take a moment and discuss instrumental music, as it should be noted that making instrumental music is not an easy task. It requires a greater use instrumental detail and melody throughout, the sort of details that a vocalist would provide to a composition. But even then you're walking a thin line. If your piece is too complex, it will be unappealing to all but the musical snobs. If it is too simple and it's likely doomed for use as elevator music. However, this group manages to strike a good balance.

The album is a very straightforward instrumental heavy prog release with some jazz elements sprinkled throughout, particularly in the drums. Guitar takes the main precedence here as the primary driving force behind many of the tracks, presenting some rather interesting melodies and motifs. The keyboards really help to fill out the music here, making great use of various keyboard effects to flesh out the melodies.

Fantasy Absent Reason is certain to satisfy the interests of any instrumental prog fan, while remaining accessible enough for the rest of us to enjoy as well. While there are a few weaker moments here and there, it is still a strong ablum as a whole.

Report this review (#1546224)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars These musicians are ambitious, very ambitious musically. This is far from a failure. This second opus is a continuation of the first in terms of instrumental skill and song structure.

With its constant changes of rhythm, its increases in intensity, the music is never tiresome, at any time you do not feel fatigue or need for lyrics.

Fantasy Absent Reason" is impressive, alternating quiet moments traced by the keyboards, more especially the piano which sometimes operates in a free jazz spirit, and then very strong moments of tension with dominant and tortured guitar riffs recalling Robert Fripp. Then the piece becomes torrential, the guitar reaching a level of intensity that can remind Petrucci, while the piano seems to sow its notes in a space beyond reason. A brief lull leads the piece to a very rhythmic final. Obviously, these musicians know how to prevent the listener from a soporific comfort and they keep him careful and excited.

"Brother Jack McDuff" possesses a pretty vintage feeling : a rhythm section with an evident jazz-blues orientation, a very "1970's" organ, an aggressive guitar, all that reminds old memories and, suddenly, the musicians offer us a beautiful part of virtuosity.

"Dust nova" is a splendid piece with a more linear construction, but throughout which the intensity increased as a drama which is being prepared and finally occurs until a tension peak which finally falls, leaving us voiceless. Remarkable !

"Utopia Planitia" is probably the most complex track, the most difficult to assimilate fully, so the richest in my opinion. At least that's how it appears to me after three plays, from its beginning dominated by the beautiful flights of a flute, to the heavy final reminiscent of King Crimson "Lark's tongue" and "Red" with a relentless rhythm section and the repetitive riffs of a very "frippian" guitar while, however, the flute flies wildly.

Finally "Creature comforts" is the most accessible piece, almost too accessible ! A nice guitar in the Al di Meola way plays a minute before a curious and cheerful electronic theme. The musicians show here simplicity, perhaps to prove that they also know how to play in a most common way !

I think this record diserves between 4 and 4,5 stars according to Progarchives criters. I wish I could give it a more precise note that would highlight its qualities. But I highly recommend this CD to the fans of King Crimson and Dream Theater as well but also more widely to all lovers of elaborated musical structures and great musicianship.

Report this review (#1550188)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ovrfwrd - this young and quite talented band (with a strange name) from USA issued so far 2 albums. Their latest to date from 2015 is named Fantasy absent reason, and I think is the most intresting from the two released so far. They play instrumental prog rock with emphasis on keyboards and guitar as might be expected. Influences can be traced from mid to late 70s prog, also some jazzy passages are present, in the end the music are colorful and quite good most of the time with complicated parts . As I said the album is good from start to finish, but I can't saying is very creative or original, only played corectly and with power. The main attraction is Chris Malmgren's keyboards, at least for me. Dust nova I think is the highlight here. So, finaly, a well rounded release from this band, but I think is needed some improvements here and there, because, at least for me, some pieces are to many times sounding like a jam band without a clear direction. 3 stars for sure

Report this review (#1553588)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.3 Stars. A big step up from their debut!

Ovrfwrd are an all-instrumental Prog band that play on the heavier side of the spectrum. Their first album "Beyond the Visible Light" showed their potential very well, with very high quality musicianship and the ability to switch from one heavy theme to another. However they had a few significant shortcomings that needed to be addressed; mainly that their songs were too similar in style and composition, and their quieter sections were not as developed and did not fit in as well with the rest of the songs. Fortunately on their second album they have managed to almost completely deal with these two negatives. Each of the five songs on the album has its own flavour and there not any big weak spots within the compositions.

The album starts with the title track which is also the longest song on the album, clocking in at nearly 17 min. It's here where the improvements to their songwriting is very clear to see. Unlike the previous album they take the time to develop each of the melodies they introduce and are careful to make sure they connect well with the previous melody. This allows them to slowly build on the intensity naturally which reaches its crescendo at around 14 min. Overall this is the most impressive song the band have created so far and it feels like a complete epic that justifies its length.

The next song "Brother Jack McDuff" is completely different to the last song and is almost completely devoted to one melody which the band plays around with. The track has a jam like quality to it, but despite the noodling it never goes into self-indulgence but instead sounds like a band having a lot of fun. Another great song and at this point the band have not really put a foot wrong.

Unlike the other two songs "Dust Nova" starts quietly with abstract guitar, piano and drums. They then introduce a peaceful tune which is given plenty of time to develop before they increase the intensity. Again this is a noticeable difference between their first and second album. On the first the soft and heavy sections would not have matched very well, but here they make sure their is a strong synchrony between the two which makes the development of the song seem much more organic and natural. Unlike most of their songs they do not reach a peak in their intensity and let the energy fade until they go back to the free-flow playing at the start of this song.

"Utopia Planitia" is the heaviest track on the album and has a more metal feel to it instead of hard-rock. They use wind instruments on the first part of the song to give it more Eastern feel, which works well. Midway though the song they introduce a great mid-tempo theme that shows off the tightness of band. Eventually they up the drama and go into full Prog-Metal territory, but as with all the previous songs everything feels natural and not over-done.

Up to this point this album was not far away from the 5 star zone, but sadly their last track "Creature Comforts" is definitely the weakest. Unlike any previous Ovrfwrd song there is no heaviness to be found and is meant to be a bit more gentle and pop-like. The problem lies in a few melodies they repeat over and over which are quite dull and grating to listen to.

Despite the weaker ending this is a excellent album and a huge improvement over their first. There is lots of first- class ideas and playing to be found here and the compositions are sound. If they keep improving at this rate then they will certainly become a big name in the future. This is a very solid 4 star album and I will be keeping an eye out for their future releases as a fan instead of a causal reviewer.

Report this review (#1557906)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is hard to write good lengthy instrumental heavy prog music, as opposed to say, instrumental post rock music. But these guys pull it off. The sound on Fantasy Absent Reason is sometimes playful, but more often brooding, early 70s retro, with a buzzy guitar and vintage-sounding keys. Points of reference would be familiar - the likes of King Crimson, Rush and even the Allman Brothers Band, So , the band plays at the intersection of heavy rock, blues and fusion, which I guess would be safest way to do it, but also audibly most accessible. Best songs the starter, 16-minute title track, the happy and jam-like Brother Jackj McDuff, and Utopia Planitia, which is probably the most complex track, with a flute added to the beginning and the end of the song.
Report this review (#1560886)
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Describing the music of Ovrfwrd presents a welcome challenge, worthy of the music itself. The Minnesota quartet plays a muscular throwback style of rich, instrumental '70s rock, complex and exciting but without sounding retro in any way, all built around tightly woven Crimsonesque knots of electric guitars and keyboards: no vocals, and better off that way. It's no surprise that the group is currently touring in support of Tony Levin's STICK MEN trio, obvious kindred spirits offering an ironclad endorsement by association.

But calling it Heavy Prog only waves a hand in the general direction of the band's musical ambitions. There's plenty of finesse to match their unmistakable power: the slow, romantic vistas setting up "Dust Nova"; the elegant ambiance of "Creature Comforts". And is that a genuine flute I hear, augmenting the agitated intro to "Utopia Planitia"?

The extended title track at the top of the album is a declaration of principles, all by itself: only 16-minutes long (a blink of the eye, by Prog standards), but able to shift the listener's ears sideways around his head when played at a suitable volume (i.e. loud). Note the gentle harpsichord keyboard patch, before the power chords begin their relentless descent: a moment of pure Prog opposition, leading into a smoky after-hours organ vamp and another edgy guitar solo. Almost immediately we're grasping for toeholds on constantly shifting yet entirely comfortable terrain, in what has to be one of the more exciting album openers of the previous year.

All the music was tightly arranged, but the quartet knows how to jam as well, in an intuitive way that renders the effort all but invisible. Listen to the groovy "Brother Jack McDuff" (presumably named for '60s jazz organist and bandleader Eugene 'Jack' McDuffy), with its bluesy early Tull vibe, complete with quasi-woodwind keyboard setting. Here and elsewhere the music reveals an occasional jazzy accent, in this instance set to a swinging 3/4 time signature (except when it morphs gracefully to 11/16). But it certainly isn't Jazz.

And it isn't quite Rock either, despite the unmistakable Hard Rock authority of the songwriting and performances. My advice is to stop fussing about labels (a difficult task, for any true Proghead) and simply enjoy the music. Even without the necessary vowels, Ovrfwrd is one of those rare bands able to challenge a listener's expectations, and thus offer legitimate hope for an increasingly dumbed-down millennium.

Report this review (#1566762)
Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second and most recent studio album by US band Ovrfwrd arrived to my ears thanks to the kindness of keyboard man Chris Malmgren, who I thank for it. This second album has the name of Fantasy Absent Reason and has just as the debut, five tracks, the first is a long 17-minute epic, tracks 2 and 5 are the shorter ones, while 3 & 4 have that 8-9 minute range that the songs of the first album had. The running time is around 46 minutes here.

And well, they decided to open with the majestic title track "Fantasy Absent Reason", an ambitious composition full of energy, explosions, changes and loads of prog rock elements. The first two minutes are bombastic, first with a harpsichord, and later a heavy and powerful sound produced by Malmgren's keyboards, who seems to be free to create whatever he wants to create, which means keyboard followers will have a feast here; just before the fourth minute arrives, an extraordinary guitar solo appears, taking the leadership for a while, while bass, drums and organ keep low profile as background. Just as I learnt on the first album, their instrumental music is full of contrasts so one can be listening to soft and delicate music but a minute later it turns out to be aggressive, heavier, but always enjoyable. There is a clear Crimsonian feeling on some moments here, but well, which band does not have King Crimson blood? And well, the song progresses, increases the energy, decreases the rhythm, makes a lot of changes but it is always (I repeat, always) interesting, so those 17 minutes run without any piece of trouble, everything good.

"Brother Jack McDuff" is one of the shorter tracks here, and again what first caught my attention was the sound of keyboards, its sound has that 70s vibe but I believe it is clear the band comes from the XXI century. Some bluesy hints here, but the lush keyboards keep the symphonic spirit, though later guitars appear with a marvelous solo. This is a wonderful song that due to its length could be named as single and could work as an introductory track to Ovrfwrd's world. "Dust Nova" has a much softer sound, delicate guitars, bass and drums for the first three minutes, just before they become more aggressive and provide much power. Guitars create several notes and sounds, always producing nuances that make the listener pay attention until the very end. The drumming here is also wonderful in all parts, in the aggressive ones and also in the softer ones. Great track!

"Utopia Planitia" brings a new element to the road: flute. And man, thank you for it! The addition of the flute brings new textures and colors than let the listener explore into different musical realms, so the band took advantage of that new element to create a magnificent composition, where Wobbler meets Anekdoten meets King Crimson. As usual, there are different passages or episodes in this one song, so later we can enjoy another great guitar solo than when it finishes, it opens the gates to keyboard fiesta. The song has in fact elements of several bands of the scene, besides the previously mentioned, I could say some Opeth and Porcupine Tree hints are perceived here. An exquisite tune, indeed! The album finishes with "Creature Comforts" whose first minute has electric piano giving a jazzy feeling; later it becomes rockier and the song takes a new direction, and though it is great as always, I could say this is not my favorite at all.

What a great surprise has been listening to Ovrfwrd, so if you have the chance, please go and discover their music because it is worth it and a great addition to your prog rock collection. My final grade would be 4 stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#1570194)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ovrfwrd

With great apologies to Ovrfwrd, I am at last posting a review of their 2015 release "Fantasy Absent Reason" many months after I agreed to listen to the album and write a review. I have been listening to the album over the last few months and at least on a couple of occasions had decided that I would write a review once I got home only to find I had other things awaiting my attention.

So what do we have here? An instrumental album of 5 tracks running about 44 minutes. The instrument line up is electric guitar, piano and synthesizer, bass, and drums and percussion. There's some harpsichord at the beginning and flute later on. As the band doesn't need to be concerned with fiddling with lyrics or finding someone qualified to sing them, the musicians can concentrate on creating music to captivate and hold interest.

The title track opens the album with over sixteen minutes of shifting between heavy guitar and piano and brief atmospheric interludes. Take note of the drummer as he earns a spot in the limelight in the more dramatic moments. Listening to the track right now, I'm following all the shifts and changes in nuance; however, many times as I walked between my house and the train station (about a 35-minute walk) my mind wandered and I missed a lot of interesting moments.

"Brother Jack McDuff" comes across as an early seventies jam number. There's organ and again that drummer is holding down his seat really well. A good rollicking nostalgic bit of music.

"Dust Nova" begins quite serenely before picking up the pace. The main theme appears to be a simple piano chord progression backed by a rapid guitar melody and a busy drum rhythm. This reiterates as the music gradually builds in drama with the guitar melody being replaced by heavy chords. I'm reminded a little of Pelican here, though the sound of Ovrfwrd is distinctly different. The music returns to its simple beginning with cascading piano notes over effective percussion and clean, wavering, strummed guitar chords.

"Utopia Planitia" is a dramatic track with some savage flute following some wild playing of the band. As with other tracks, the pace changes with some easier sailing sections while others are more active and unsettled. There's room for guitar and keyboard solos and some ominous moods created by heavy guitar and rhythm while a spacey synthesizer weaves through the calamity. I'd say this is a good place to start if you want a feel for the album.

"Creature Comforts" brings the album to a close with a slow and carefully tread opening that yields to an eighties hard rock style of finger plucked chords. The track is pleasant but ends rather soon.

I think the band have done a good job of creating an instrumental album that's not too long and includes music that is not too complex but has still received careful attention. The use of piano, drums and percussion, and heavy guitar create some terrific moments of both drama and beauty, and the band are sure to include moments for cooling down and taking it easy.

Despite the 44-minute length, this almost feels like an EP. The album begins with a long track and closes with a brief and more laid back track. I feel as though two tracks are missing, perhaps one at each end. The lengthy instrumental opening the album seems to soon and the final track wraps up the album with less ceremony than seems fitting. The music is not as complex or involved as my recent preferences have been, but for something that allows you to feel energy, mood, and atmosphere in a rock instrumental format, this is rather a decent album. Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#1670390)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Very close to 4 Stars!

The most recent album from OVRFWRD contains a lot of really excellent musical sections. The music is all-instrumental, with the band bio stating this is because the singer never showed up for the recording sessions, so the band just continued without a singer (!) I listen to a lot of post-rock and jazz too, and have never thought a singer was necessary. Saying this, when listening to both the first album (Beyond Visible Light) and this one, there are times when I felt the arrangement could have used something additional. While a lot of post-rock (and Krautrock, etc) is intentionally sparse, the music played by Ovrfwrd is more like YYZ or La Villa Strangiato, with a lot of structure and directionality, and there are a number of places where there are repeated chord progressions without soloing, so it seems to me there could be something else there. Not singing though, as I really like this music without any words. Then, eureka! - I got to the song "Utopia Planitia" on this album, and heard the flute that plays over top of the beginning and ending of the piece. Amazing tune! The flute adds just enough additional (improvised) counterpoint to the keys and guitars to fill out the sound and wake up the brain. At a number of times in the other tunes, the piano fulfils this function, and there are some great guitar solos there too. But for the sparser sections in the other pieces, I keep coming back to Utopia Planitia and wonder what those tunes would have been like with the flute. Utopia Planitia is so good, I have added it to my casual rotation, even after listening to the rest of this album a bunch of times. Even without the flute, I think this is the band's best song, but the flute elevates even higher. Very musical, with a great arrangement that does not interrupt the flow (unlike some of the other tunes) and keeps the listener tuned in right to the close.

Saying this, I also like the other tunes. My second-favourite is the closer, "Creature Comforts". Starting out with a really nice interplay between electric piano and jazzy guitar, then a repeated guitar hook brings in the main chord progression and melody. Great song! I only wish it were longer (its only 4 min - would have been a great 12-min epic). The other shorter tune, "Brother Jack McDuff" also works very efficiently, and I wouldn't have changed anything on this one. The remaining two tunes are the ones I think could most have used the flute or something similar. Dust Nova starts out soft and jazzy, with really nice piano and echo-y jazz guitar solo, it slowly builds to power-chord tune with both and guitars at times playing rapid 16th note patterns, but it still seems over-sparse. A flute playing over top would have nailed it ('nailed' in a good way of course!), especially during the build up and then afterwards right at the end as the song settles down. Finally, the long 16+ min title track that opens the album contains a lot of musical sections, although it seems to me overly fragmented. At times a great section dies right down to silence only to rise again with a completely different theme. There are some great organ and guitar solos in places, but those sections where the guitar or piano is playing power chords accompanied by repeated 16th-note patterns by the other instrument could have used some accompaniment. In particular, the main build-up between minute 10 and minute 14 in this piece would have really benefited from a flute or some other accompaniment (or even just a long improvised keys or guitar solo). Many of the chord progressions throughout this tune are built around the tri-tone (augmented 4th), which is still less common, but it generally works well here. I appreciate the non-standard chord progressions on these tunes - while most of the music is not super complex, a number of sections are quite musical and use non-standard chord progressions.

On the whole, this a very enjoyable album. There is not a bad track in the set, even if I think some of the pieces could have been even better. I give it 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is at the top end of the 3-star range. Very close to 4 stars!

Report this review (#1707622)
Posted Monday, April 3, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

There aren't many bands who go out on a limb and finance a vinyl release of their second album, so all power to Ovrfwrd for making this available either digitally or as a real honest to goodness record. The album kicks off with the sixteen-minute-long title cut, which allows the band to show all the tricks they have available. They are very much their own band, but some of their most important influences are on display on this song, with Discipline and King Crimson well to the fore. They move from bombastic and discordant to gentle and reflective without a pause for breath, from prog metal to piano-led gentleness, going wherever they feel the music is taking them. Rikki concentrates on cymbals when the time is right, hardly touching the rest of the kit, while swirling keyboards can provide accompaniment to the melody leads of electric guitar and piano.

That this is the highlight of the album is never in doubt, but the rest of the songs also stand well up to muster, with "Brother Jack McDuff" having a late-Sixties feel with plenty of Hammond organ sounds on clear display. The joy of both these albums is that the guys clearly know what they want to achieve and have a diverse approach to getting there. I know that they are currently working on their third album, which I am eagerly awaiting, as both of their albums to date are well worth investigating and I know that the next one will surely build on what they have been doing to date.

Report this review (#1709196)
Posted Saturday, April 8, 2017 | Review Permalink

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