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Lee Abraham - Comatose CD (album) cover


Lee Abraham

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Wow! What a scintillating listen that was! I own three albums by Lee Abraham as well as his recent Galahad material and knew full well that this was quite the talented artist , showing delightful elegance on the terrific ''The Seasons Turn'', in particular the title track that first got me hooked , elated that Marc Atkinson was the main vocalist, he being one of the finest voices in music, period. Riversea have two masterpieces that I hold very dear, so when he grabs the microphone on this superb recording, I just know this will be killer! It is! The radiant choir mellotron makes numerous appearances, making this a symphonic masterpiece, from beginning to end. There is very little space between songs , making this more of a continuous suite, much to our listening pleasure. The theme is what makes this interesting , based on a person in an accident becoming comatose. Take that on your pink chin, Roger Waters!

In a faintly disguised nod to the Floyd, ''Numb part1'' sends this opus on it's way with immediate impact and intense intrigue as the life monitor beeps ever so creepily. Brooding softness prevails, acoustic and electric guitar vying for some comfort zone , all very placid until the booming drums announce the choir mellotron , cresting and surging , splicing a liquid lead into the maelstrom , heightening the angst into near metalloid realms. Ambulance sirens, troubled piano and Marc begins singing in his inimitable style, a voice that needs no effect but here given a parallel ''dying treatment'' in the chorus, Lee ripping a sizzling solo to further entice. Absolutely divine. This bleeds (pardon the pun) right into « Realisation » , another jewel in the crown, a sophisticated prog ensemble work that shines ever so brightly, guided by a Spanish guitar motif that emotes magnificently, choir mellotron in tow. Laced with another whirlwind vocal performance, Marc's expressive voice is quite a thrill, as the extended electric solo just carves like a knife. Things keep moving along in utter melodic perfection , tones of Jim Kerr of Simple Minds appear on the rousing « Twisted Metal », Marc hushing voice whispering dark nothings , as the band plows mercilessly ahead, Gerald Mulligan putting on a brief drum clinic. This is a killer track that seems to flow naturally, expressing the human softness trying to survive within jagged wreckage. Marc bellows magnificently on the searing « Ascend the Sky » , with its luminous grandeur and majestic aura, a gospel-like choir pushing the wave along, stunningly tailored with a clangy, stinging country-style guitar tone a la Steve Cropper. « The Sun » offers a pastoral funeral for a friend that is the premise for this bucolic , acoustic guitar and flute ballad , sorrowfully sung , a huge melody of momentary release . Very English ,very impressive and meticulous , made eventful by a patented Atkinson vocal, a thing of soulful beauty. As a farewell treat we get a slick acoustic guitar solo that defies the odds. « Numb part 2 » just keeps the tension rolling undaunted, I daresay defiant as Lee and Marc weave their creative magic, delivering memorable performances , getting heavy as the chug through tough terrain, swirling into the maelstrom of sound and slicing ferociously through the torrential mellotron waves, at break neck cosmic speed, supremely controlled and utterly devastating. The hot and sweaty « No Going back » slams hard , armed with another whopping melody , bruising drum attack, choppy guitars , making ''you want to reach for the sky, no asking why'', Lee unslinging a seismic axe barrage of monster proportions, what more could you want? Absolute diamond. « Awaken » closes off this gargantuan effort, a dazzling display of melodic, emotive and inspired singing and playing, relentlessly beautiful in its presentation and messaging. Lee rips a solo for the ages, one of the dizziest displays this side of Steve Hackett.

Everything here is perfect, memorable, thrilling, inventive and explosive, chock full of massive melodies that stick in your mind and coated with endless mellotron waves, superb soloing and kick-ass drumming. And need I repeat, the finest vocals you could possibly imagine.

My favorite album of 2019, hands down.

5 numb skulls

Report this review (#2282139)
Posted Sunday, November 17, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lee Abraham plays bass on Galahad's 'Empires Never Last' album - a personal favorite - and I was quite interested in listening to his solo career. His 2019 release 'Comatose' is considered a major release, so what better place to start?

My first impression was that 'Comatose' is a 'Wish You Were Here'-lover's thrash metal album. Most songs have slow-pace symphonic-ballad vocals parts, some emotive guitar leads on symphonic carpets and metalesque instrumental sections. The classification of crossover prog is however well in place, because we're not exactly facing ground-braking ideas here. The key-word is harmony, professionalism and sounding recognizable. The vocals by Marc Atkinson are warm and professional - but again - by the book. Lee Abraham's guitars are well played, but I mainly like his harder riffs in which I can find some vague traces of originality. The production of the album is very well done.

The album, which on the tracklist is supposed to impress as a single long track, plays like a fairly normal succession of songs that one would expect on concept album. The album is about some-one who enters a coma, aks some philosophical questions, relives some of his memories (including being happy in the sun as a child) and wakes up (or not?). Sound familiar? The Visitor? The Human Equation? The Lamb Dies Down on Broadway? The difference with these albums is that - for instance - Arena's The Visitor uses the concept to explore a wide pallet of emotions and themes, whereas on 'Comatose' I can mainly find that one later day Pink Floyd emotive sympo- vibe.

I've been fairly critical of lack of originality here, but I would like say that is one my personal traits. Who is to say listeners of Pink Floyd, symphonic metal and crossover prog won't like this album just fine? To me the progressive genre is about finding spots that weren't yet discover on the map of music, or re-arranging them in a original fashion. Or perhaps performing them in some mind-blowing or personal way.

This album is however made by and for people who obviously love some symphonic rock traditions and are happy to invite yet another well-made work into their music collection. For me its good, but in no way essential. I must say its way more likely I will return to the 2019's Cosmograf release I recently reviewed (which I also gave this rating).

Report this review (#2307155)
Posted Thursday, January 16, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars From the long 4 and a half minutes keyboard intro of the album, you get a first idea of what you are up against. Floydian - I take my time - intro, then at 4:40 the lead guitar appears and your first idea gets stronger. But then no, what is that? Is it a heavy riff? Oh yes it is and it's a damn good one! And then at 7 minutes or so here comes piano and vocals. The opening track of the album "Numb pt 1" has it all and gives the general idea of the album as a whole. There is melody, there is emotion, there is skilled playing, there is heaviness in small doses, and a really catchy chorus. The key word here though is emotion. Lee's playing style derives straight from the masters of emotional playing and of course I'm referring to Dave Gilmour and Andrew Latimer. Technically and sonically I'd say is closer to Latimer (those sustained notes!) but the way of thinking and the structure of the solos lean more towards the Gilmour side. (Ascend The Sky could easily be a b-side of a Division Bell single!) Anyway it's an excellent blend of the two (listen to the solo on "Realization"). The good thing is that both the album and Lee's playing are not stuck to the past, there are many more elements to be found (check out the 90s prog metal feeling on the closing part of "Numb pt II), and a more modern approach to instumentation and execution. Of course there is also a lot of personality in there, so we are talking only of influences and not sterile reproduction. The album is concept. The story is not unheard of before, but fits the music well and there is nothing offensive lyricswise. Vocalist Marc Atkinson does a really good job and so does Gerald Mulligan on drums. A song for song analysis is not needed here, but a special mention should be given to the last two tracks of the album. "No Going Back" is probably the heaviest track of the album but still the chorus is melodic, emotional and catchy. The guitar solo gives a nod to the Falling into Infinity era Petrucci. The last song "Awaken" is my personal favourite. Piano intro (deliberately?) reminding of High Hopes, the whole track is an ode to emotional songwriting and playing. Especially the excellent guitar solo that closes the song (and the album) epitomizes everything we mentioned so far. To conclude, this is a fine effort, not groundbreaking, but this was never the purpose. A 4,5 stars for my personal tastes, a solid four stars all things considered.
Report this review (#2460741)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | Review Permalink

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