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Andrew Roussak - Storm Warning CD (album) cover


Andrew Roussak

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars CD reviews are a rarity for me, but I'll make an exception for Andrew Roussak (born in Russia and living in Germany), whose recording career I've been able to follow right from the start - ever since we met on internet around 2006. Last week he released his third solo album ("Storm warning"), after his eclectic debut "No trespassing" from 2006 (commercial release 2008) and the piano album "Blue intermezzo" from 2010 - during that period he also released two albums as member of the prog metal band Dorian Opera ("No secrets" from 2008 and "Crusade 1212" from 2011). I have reviewed these four albums before on various sites, my judgement varying from "good" to "excellent".

Well, here he is once more after eight years of relative silence as far as studio work is concerned. If you get the chance to listen to his new album (an 8 minutes trailer is available on YouTube), a fair warning: the first minute of electronic sounds is not representative. After this intro, we get full-blooded symphonic prog, which although influenced by the 70s' giants of the genre, sounds fresh and up-to-date. Except for one track, all compositions are by Roussak himself. He also plays all instruments, not just the keyboards, except for three stunning guitar solos by Oli Weislogel, who also played on his debut album.

The two lead-off instrumental tracks ("Enter code", "Bringing peace and progress") rock with the best of them and feature as expected excellent keyboard work. "Left alone outside" is a great prog song, with guest vocals by Max Kottler. Another brilliant instrumental track with amazing keyboard wizardry ("Regata storica") follows - my favourite track on the album, and one of the best prog instrumentals I've ever heard. "Chasing shadows" changes the mood, a lovely ballad with vocals by Nadia Ayche, Largely piano-driven, a brilliant guitar solo by Oli Weislogel adds just that bit of spice. "Storm warning", the title song, is another instrumental, maybe just a bit less impressive than the first ones - but still very good. In the next track, like in some of the tracks on his previous albums, Roussak shows his affection for classical music. The Dowland composition "Can she excuse my wrongs" gets converted to a full-blooded prog track with another awesome display of keyboard pyrotechnics. The short vocal lines are uncredited, but they are actually by Roussak himself, and with false modesty noted in the credits as "backing vocals". The album closes with a three-part suite called "Malta sketches", with guest vocals in the final part by Selina Weidmann. The recording is excellent, with great definition of instruments and vocals. Good cover, good packaging with sufficient information (albeit in small letters...), but no lyrics.

So, what's the verdict? I considered the debut album promising ("Great musicianship, but a bit too much variation in style and mood"), the second album top notch ("all 12 tracks are very much worthwhile and make a wonderful collection - it really works well as an album"). Well, the third one blows the previous two out of the water. A delight from start to finish. One of the best prog albums I've heard for a long time.

Report this review (#2189371)
Posted Tuesday, April 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars I gave this album a try after it appeared in the PA top albums of 2019 without knowing anything of Andrew Roussak or his music. For the second time this year (the first was Climbing The Air by On The Raw) I found myself listening to an album that was immediately enjoyable with a structure and complexity that requires multiple listens (I am currently on my 9th repeat listen and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience). Andrew Roussak is a fine composer, pianist and multi-instrumentalist. The music is symphonic with a fusing of classical piano and rock keyboards with an occasional jazz edge. I was reminded of other fine contemporary keyboard composers such as Andy Tillison and some of Lalle Larsson's work as I listened. There are also some fine guitar solos. Four of the eight tracks are instrumental. There is a lovely female led ballad. Another track concludes with a soaring female vocal. There are two tracks with male vocal both used sparingly and the second a male choral conclusion to track with a baroque edge to it. I shall be checking out Andrew Roussak's earlier work on the strength of this release. A Wonderful album and deserving of five stars.
Report this review (#2202007)
Posted Sunday, May 12, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Good news for the fans of keyboard driven prog!'

Andrew Roussak was born in Russia, in 1968. At the age of seven he started a classical piano training at school, inspired by his mother and an uncle, they were skilled amateurs on the piano. But Andrew was not only focussed on classical piano, he was also blown away by the way Jon Lord transformed Bach into rock on his Hammond. And by the virtuosic keyboard pyrotechnics from Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, especially on the Hammond and Moog synthesizer. When he was sixteen Andrew started playing in bands, blending his classical education (like Bach and Vivaldi) on piano with modern progressive rock (from ELP, Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis to UK). In 2001 he moved to Germany and continued his work as a professional rock musician: he released the solo albums No Trespassing (2008) and Blue Intermezzo (2010), two albums with the prog metal band Dorian Opera, and he was involved in lots of activities in bands and projects (musical, opera, blues, boogie, hard rock and power metal). In 2019 Andrew released a new solo album entitled Storm Warning on which he plays all instruments (using high tech software in his home studio), Andrew only invited guest musicians for the lead vocals and guitar soli in some tracks.

During my first listening session I got more and more excited, and gradually I was carried away to Keyboard Prog Heaven, what an exciting sound. And I love the ultra-bombastic climates. Most tracks contain up-tempo beats, fuelled by a powerful and dynamic rhythm-section, incredible that the drums and bass are created on the computer!

Exciting Hammond work and spectacular fat Moog flights in Enter Code.

Awesome interplay between keyboards, guitar and the rhythm-section, a break with spacey synthesizers and flashy synthesizer flights in Bringing Peace And Progress (often Japanese band Gerard comes to my mind).

From sparkling Grand piano and a Jobson organ sound to dazzling synthesizer runs and heavy guitar play in Regata Storica.

From again those sensational dazzling keyboards runs to spacey synthesizers, from thunderous drums, heavy guitar and sensational synthesizers to dreamy with surprising sparkling electric piano solo, and 'AOR meets ELP' with a swirling Hammond solo and heavy drums and guitar in the exciting and alternating titletrack.

And from an ultra-bombastic atmosphere with Hammond, heavy guitar riffs, thunderous drums and flashy synthesizer runs to a compelling slow rhythm with a Kashmir-like orchestral sound, topped with blistering guitar and opera-like female vocals in Malta Sketches.

The other three tracks each contain a more mellow climate with lots of strong musical ideas, emphasizing the impressive writing skills of Andrew.

Between dreamy with acoustic guitar and soaring keyboards, and more bombastic with heavy guitar riffs and Emersonian synthesizer work in Left Alone Outside. This is topped with pleasant vocals from Max Kottler and a sensitive guitar solo from Oli Weislogel. This track sounds like a dynamic blend of AOR and symphonic rock.

A dreamy climate with tender piano and warm vocals from the outstanding, obviously classically trained Nadia Ayche, then a wonderful and sparkling Grand piano interlude and finally another moving electric guitar solo by Oli Weislogel in Chasing Shadows.

The final composition Can She Excuse My Wrongs delivers lots of variety. First dreamy with the distinctive harpsichord sound, then an up-tempo beat with Hammond (rock meets classical, like Rick Van Der Linden with Ekseption and Trace) and spectacular synthesizer flights, fuelled by powerful drum beats. Finally a surprising a capella part, then joined by delicate harpsichord runs, and in the end coloured by Hammond and Moog. Wow!

For those progheads who are into keyboard driven and also love harder-edged prog, I highly recommended this new Andrew Roussak album!

This review was recently published on the Dutch progrock website Background Magazine, in a slightly different version.

Report this review (#2238102)
Posted Sunday, July 14, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars It has been about ten years since I last wrote about keyboard player Andrew Roussak. Back then I was reviewing both his debut solo album and the debut from Dorian Opera where he was keyboard player, and I see that both of them have released an album I haven't heard, but now he is back with his third solo release. Andrew is a multi- instrumentalist, but he has brought in some additional guitarists on a couple of songs, as well as a couple of singers, but for the most part this is all Andrew. He is a keyboard player who is more Wakeman than Emerson, but way more Emerson than Jarre, and the result is an album which moves, twists and shifts like any good rock album should. The use of Hammond sounds will always make me sit and up and pay attention as that is one of the truly classic rock keyboard basics, and here he deploys it to great effect.

Keyboard-based albums can be boring affairs at times, even when there are other musicians involved, but here we have loads of rock songs which just have a keyboard base and often a keyboard lead. In many ways this is very reminiscent of Wakeman when he is in full rock mode, except not quite as bombastic. He has no problem with stopping on a pin and pivoting the sound to acoustic guitar, while the use of lead singers (sparingly) also points more to the caped crusader. This can be enjoyed the very first time of hearing, while it is also a grower and the more it is played the more there is to be discovered and enjoyed. Personally, I would prefer if he had kept the album fully instrumental, as I am not a huge fan of Max Kottler's vocal style, but overall this is an album which keeps the listener engaged throughout and if classic Seventies-style keyboard-led albums interest you then this is definitely worth discovering.

Report this review (#2246734)
Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Russian born, Germany based composer and musician Andrew ROUSSAK first appeared as a recording solo artist just over a decade ago, releasing his first ever solo album on Russian label MALS. A second solo album appeared a couple of years later, then through French label Musea Records. With "Storm Warning" Roussak marks his return as a solo artist, this time opting to release his album through US label Melodic Revolution Records.

It is good to see that Andrew Roussak has returned as a recording solo artist, and for fans of keyboard driven, mainly instrumental symphonic progressive rock that incorporates elements from classical music, jazz and liberal amounts of organ driven groove style hard rock into compositions with a heart firmly placed in vintage era symphonic progressive rock...this is good news. An album easy to recommend to this specific audience.

Report this review (#2285274)
Posted Tuesday, December 3, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Andrew Roussak , this unfairly little known keyboard player released his third solo album in 2019 named Storm warning. I known his previous 2 works, debut from 2008 No trespassing who was more then solid, follow the piano album Blue intermezzo in 2010 and third this one Storm warning. In between of his fist album and new one he was the keyboard player of german progressive metal band Dorian Opera who released 2 albums .

I am really glad that the new album is keeping the same attitude as the debut, solid compositions, keyboard driven progressive rock, almost all album is instrumental, combining symphonic parts with jazz/classical music passages, his style is very much in Rick Wakeman direction, a thing that I like a lot, and not in ELP direction.

Roussak is helped by other musicians, 3 vocalists, and the guitar player is as on debut, the rest is made by Roussak himself. He is a multi instrumentalist and done a good job here, the album has plenty to enjoy, twisting and changing moods, all is here .

The compositions are bombastic, with quite great keyboard leads and solid musicianship, the perfect example is opening Enter Code, the rest of the pieces are also very strong.

All in all, a fairly good album, I like what I've heared here and his music is needing a far more recognition, in same level with his first release No trespassing (not counting blue intermezzo here), specially overall sound has that specific seventies-style keyboard-led albums. 3.5 stars for sure, a nice one. Nice art work aswell

Report this review (#2408912)
Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | Review Permalink

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