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5 stars EYESBERG burst onto the progressive music scene two years ago with the release of their album BLUE ? a collection of 30-year-old songs that had been re-recorded and revamped using modern technology. BLUE quite rightly received rave reviews and now they are back with the follow-up MASQUERADE ? this time a collection of new material. And what a gem of an album it is. A dynamic mix of hard and heavy sounds, breathtaking guitar and synth solos, awesome melodies and intricate, diverse arrangements that somehow magically blend together. The scene is set with the opener JOKE ON YOU ? as heavy guitar-laden and organ passages, augmented with driving drums and bass, are suddenly replaced with gentle lilting harmonies from guitar and vocals. The song then builds into a wonderful crescendo as mini moog and lead guitar take over. COME AND TAKE A LOOK AT MY LIFE is a very poignant track, the lyrics dealing with the refugee crisis in Europe. Here lyricist/vocalist Malcolm Shuttleworth really comes into his own with some wonderful vocal work, especially during the chorus, featuring the wonderfully Gabriel-like lyrics: "Loitering with intent to hang around?" FACELESS is a unique song for a progressive album. It could actually be a hit single. That said, the song is extremely complex with fine guitar work by Georg Alfter and superb flute solos. (Which I can only assume came from the wonders of modern technology, as no flutist was credited on the sleeve.) I love the line: "Faceless on Facebook, what's up with Whatsapp?" HERE AND NOW is simply superb. Haunting melodies (especially the flute intro), meandering solo guitar throughout and a nice driving drum rhythm ? played by guest musician Jimmy Keegan of Spock's Beard. The middle part features several subtle touches from keyboarder Norbert Podien. STORM FLOOD is perhaps the album's low point. A rather-long-winded instrumental that does not really go anywhere. STEAL YOUR THUNDER is one of those spine-tingling songs that is hard to describe. Perhaps the most perfect song on the album. Outstanding vocals, quite wonderful piano, exquisite guitar parts, great melodies. A true masterpiece. EYESBERG save the best until last. The 18-minute WAIT AND SEE, which apparently tells the band's story, encapsulates what this wonderful band is all about. Drama, suspense, diversity and majesty all rolled together in an epic song that simply cannot be surpassed. A fitting end to a truly remarkable piece of work. Overall a wonderful production, sounding fresh and extremely well-produced. The only thing EYESBERG need to worry about is how they can possibly follow this?

RAY X ? Cologne 2016

Report this review (#1648225)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars For yet another time I've been alerted by PA to good old German neo-prog... This is what I call pensioner's prog - prog played by 50-somethings for the 50-somethings (not there yet, but close). How can you tell? If the singer sounds like he's from Genesis and laments the effect of social media on human relationships. I don't mean to say that it's lethargic. Joke on you opens quite energetically, in fact. It's just that it doesn't explore any edges, not venturing from the middle of what this kind of music is supposed to sound like - melodic but unassuming prog-lite. Good accompaniment for house cleaning on a lazy day.
Report this review (#1663639)
Posted Sunday, December 4, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Eyesberg took 34 years to cook up their debut, Blue, but didn't need nearly so long to churn out this successor to the album. It's neo-prog in a style which I'd be inclined to compare to recent Galahad - in that it's got the sort of mild Genesis influences you expect of neo-prog groups of a certain vintage, but greatly updated in terms of the electronic influences they allow to percolate into the music.

It's competently done, but it does rather feel a bit neo-prog-by-numbers at points, and in terms of the lyrical themes they explore the band indulge in the sort of what I think of as "grumpy divorced dad nostalgia" that can plague the neo-prog scene a bit. You know the kind of thing - the sort of sub-Big Big Train griping about how Things Ain't Like They Used To Be (though there's plenty of music from the good old days that reminds us that things weren't so great back then either!). Where I look to neo-prog music for something emotionally engaging - whether that's IQ-style psychedelic excitement, Marillion-esque emotional gravitas, or whatever - Eyesberg instead deliver a lot of rather clueless griping.

Take a case in point: one of the songs starts off with vocalist Malcolm Shuttleworth singing about how social media's terrible and nobody talks anymore. Now, this is a position without credibility (I could go off on a long rant about it, but suffice to say that if you believe people are using social media to the extent of cutting out seeing people in person entirely, I would say that you are either projecting your own boring social isolation onto others or fundamentally misunderstanding how people use it - it's a useful accessory to and facilitator of other interactions, not a replacement for them), but let's set that aside: Facebook launched in 2004, and Twitter launched in 2006. We are dealing here with a social phenomenon which is a decade old; the time when you could pretend to be "with it" and in tune with current issues simply by saying something uninformed and unsupported about social media is well and truly past.

I take issue with this not because I think songs about social media are inherently bad, but I would say that they've been *done already*, and if a band feels the need to do a song about the subject and then entirely fails to say anything new about it beyond some dull platitudes - and, even worse, doesn't even manage to dress up the platitudes in a way I haven't heard a dozen times before - that suggests that they are rather short of ideas. And that's how I'd characterise Eyesberg: they churn out pleasant enough material, I wouldn't rate the album below three stars, but until they start doing something I haven't heard before too many times already they're not going to get beyond three stars.

Report this review (#1685765)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Towards the end of 2016 Eyesberg came back with their second album, this time comprising all new songs. There was no use of a drum machine this time, as they managed to secure the talents of Spock's Beard drummer Jimmy Keegan, and this has had a major impact on the music. No longer are the drums just there to keep the beat and provide backbone, this time they have become very much an essential part of the overall sound as Jimmy drives the guys along ? he never has been one to be content with just playing the beat, he knows when not to play, and when to force proceedings. No longer are the band performing as if they were around more than thirty- five years ago (although they were), now it is more of that time being an influence on what they are doing, which is far harder and heavier than last time around.

The debut album would probably be best described as retro prog, but this one is much further into neo prog territory, with a far more abrasive edge, as if they have lost the innocence of the debut and are far angrier. The two albums are quite different in some respects, and very similar in others, with Malcolm's vocals playing a key part in bringing them together, along with Hackett Genesis influences still obvious in this one, although more diluted than in the debut. Of the two I think I prefer the debut, just, but they are both worthy of discovery to any prog lover,

Report this review (#1694023)
Posted Saturday, February 18, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars German band EYESBERG has a history that go back some decades, but as recording artists they first appeared three years ago with their debut album "Blue". Two more years would go before their second album "Masquerade" would appear, and as with their first studio production it was released by German label Progressive Promotion Records.

While I do not see that Eyesberg's second album will convince anyone not already fond of neo progressive rock of the 80's variety to the charms of this particular approach to progressive rock, many of those who tend to enjoy this style of music should find this CD to be right up their alley. An album that merits a check by those who enjoy the classic neo progressive bands of the early 80's as well as Genesis as they were in the last few years before they opted to create more regular pop music.

Report this review (#1815986)
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2017 | Review Permalink

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