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A Lonely Crowd

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A Lonely Crowd User Hostile album cover
3.90 | 36 ratings | 6 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Blessing in Disguise (1:08)
2. Barbed Haywire (3:38)
3. Tyranny of Dissonance (3:57)
4. Make You Scream (4:03)
5. Tightrope Somnabulists (5:49)
6. Dragonfly (2:50)
7. End without End (3:56)
8. Misunderestimated (3:18)
9. Mustard Brush Tango (3:30)
10. Status Anxiety (4:22)
11. Adjustify (3:38)
12. Bipolar Bear (4:01)
13. Few and Far Between (3:03)
14. De Vito (1:19)
15. Glass Eyes (7:15)
16. Skyscraper (4:35)

Line-up / Musicians

- Luke Ancell / Guitars
- Scott Ancell / Drums
- David Morkunas / Bass, Keys
- Xen "Pow" Havales / Vocals

Releases information

Anon Islet Records CD 2011

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition
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A LONELY CROWD User Hostile ratings distribution

(36 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

A LONELY CROWD User Hostile reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andy Webb
5 stars Over the past few years, the Australian rock scene has exploded with a slew of innovative, creative, and exciting new bands. Much of the recent progressive music has been based in a wide host of sounds, bringing in influences ranging from punk to metal to post-rock to hard rock to folk and so much more, making for a very eclectic, diverse, and mature sound. This wonderful explosion of wonderful music has been manifested by many bands over the past few years, most successfully Karnivool, but also bands such as Arcane, Caligula's Horse, Pirate, and, as you might guess, the newer band A Lonely Crowd.

Led by a powerful female vocalist, half of which is seen in the form of former singer Leah Ceff and the other half in the form of current vocalist Xen Pow, the band creates a wonderful mesh of hardcore punk, "alternative" progressive rock, an interesting brand of Eastern European folk music, alt metal, and many different seemingly conflicting yet oddly cohesive genres to make their wonderfully crafted 16-track debut User Hostile. With plenty of fantastic harmonies, creative voicings, genius compositions, and so much more, this debut leaves little to be desired for the listener.

The seemingly expansive 16 songs on the album cover a wide hour long spectrum, with songs ranging from upbeat Eastern European folk-based tunes to near pure hardcore punk. The diversity of the songs is really what leads to the great genius that backs this album. While compositions seem to race sporadically and randomly through different themes, each song has an omnipresent fluidity and glue that holds them together amid the seemingly insane and inane emotional rollercoasters of music.

The emotion and energy that has been put into this album is another truly defining factor. Listening to an album that is full of emotion can always be an enjoyable experience and can be good when you're feeling down, but the mixture of emotion and pure energy and joy in performing this energetic music really gets the listener into the music. On top of this, the accessible female vocals make the music easily hummable and add a fantastic dynamic to the upbeat instrumentation.

The album contains many great songs, which is an easily attainable feat when 16 songs are present on the album. Each song's title is a quirky play on words, and songs like "Barbed Haywire," "Tight Rope Somnambulists," "End Without End," "Misunderestimated," "Status Anxiety," "Bipolar Bear," and "Glass Eyes" really stuck out to me. It may seem like quite a few memorable tracks, but just a cursory listen to the album can show you the high quality of even these few tracks is often carried out throughout the entire album. The songs' ingenuity, creative tone, and wonderful structures, as sporadic and disorganized as they may seem, make them really special for a listener and appreciator of the heavy prog genre. The more modern heavy prog has the potential to be incredibly creative, and A Lonely Crowd have successfully pulled most of the strings to attain the truly "unique" card, a descriptor I rarely give to bands.

A Lonely Crowd's debut album User Hostile has seriously impressed me from my preliminary listens just evaluating them on the Heavy Prog Team to my intensive evaluations as a reviewer. The band's unique amalgamation of some of the most opposing genres into a cohesive and appealing whole is impressive already, and the manifestation of just their style in their recorded product is supremely enjoyable as well. While during my first listens some things didn't seem right to be on the album, especially the hardcore-based and overall "different" ender "Skyscrapers," but after a few listens the more abrasive track, based in a hardcore style screaming and aggressive riffing, seems to put a nice cap on the energetic album, and, while not being the perfect addition to album, still serves a place on the album. Overall, there is not much more to be said. I have just about fallen in love with this album, and I am very excited to hear more from this young Aussie band. 5- stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'User Hostile' - A Lonely Crowd (7/10)

The Australians in A Lonely Crowd has been receiving heavy acclaim since the release of this, their debut album. Furiously pairing the energy of metal and punk with the sophistication of classical, this band's ambition certainly warrants the recognition. Drawing many comparisons with the madmen in Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, A Lonely Crowd's approach to rock music is fermented with a penchant for the weird, and they're all the better for it. Fans of the avant would do well to check this out; "User Hostile" stands as one of the catchiest and enjoyable experimental albums I've heard in a while.

Like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and uneXpect (among others), A Lonely Crowd's sound blurs the line between a listener's instant gratification- something naturally aligned with pop music- and the depth that comes with doing something outside the box. Though few guitar riffs here spare themselves some sort of dissonance, and one look at Xen Pow's vocal melodies (herself a cross between uneXpect's Leilindel and Beach House's Victoria Legrand) are evidence to a band free themselves from many conventions of tone and scale even held dearly by much progressive rock. This is not to say that A Lonely Crowd have crafted something entirely unique- the influence of the aforementioned groups is readily apparent- but listeners should be prepared for something a little different.

"User Hostile" consists of sixteen tracks, ranging from an 'interlude-worthy' moment to a more involving seven minute stretch. In general however, listeners can expect songs that deceptively stick within the three or four minute range. Although these tracks can often sound like self-contained 'songs', A Lonely Crowd are never stopped from spreading their wings instrumentally; mind-bending time-signature experimentation, Xen's operatic acrobatics, and even a handful of flute cameos should feel commonplace by the time the album is over, which- despite the relative consistency- ultimately feels about ten minutes long. It would have been nice to see this band pursue some more epic songwriting, and while "Glass Eyes" is given over seven minutes to explore its warm soundscape, A Lonely Crowd rarely feels like they are songwriting so much as they are composing interesting ideas, and propping them up against each other. Perhaps besides the System Of A Down- like closing track "Skyscraper", A Lonely Crowd don't really get the impression of a song across within four minutes. The compositional integrity and quirky madness is here, but "User Hostile" lacks in the way of highlights.

Listening to A Lonely Crowd, I get the mental image of a talented band anxious to get their ideas out in the open. The result is something that goes for everything but the kitchen sink, and then returns to take the sink as insurance. As exciting as "User Hostile" is from an artistic perspective, A Lonely Crowd needs some work to consolidate and focus in their sound, but there are some wonderful things brewing here.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
4 stars A Lonely Crowd are a Melbourne Heavy Prog band who have just released their 2011 debut album "User Hostile". The packaging of the album is certainly artistic with some innovative and creative imagery in the 12 page booklet, that also has full lyrics. The symbolism of the imagery, by Steven Kuiter, is open to interpretation but includes such things as insect behaviour of the dragonfly, black widow spiders in a web, and a smoking exploded lightbulb.

The band consist of the main trio Luke Ancell on guitars, Scott Ancell on drums, and David Morkunas on bass, and keys. They are joined by vocalists Leah Ceff, also on flute, Xen "Pow" Havales, and guests Tomas Fitzgerald, vocalist on 'Adjustify', Karen Heath, clarinet player on 'Mustard Brush Tango', and Shane Lieber, vocalist on 'Skyscrapers', and 'Tyranny of Dissonance'.

'Blessing in Disguise' is an odd start with vinyl crackles and then a jazz cabaret feel with very nice vocals by Leah. This segues straight into the heavier distorted riffs and unusual time signature of 'Barbed Haywire'. The flute than joins in to lend a very strange atmosphere, as it keeps time with the angular guitars. The instrumental has King Crimson like intricacy and is a signifier of the type of music the band focusses on; an odd blend of metal riffs and ambiance.

The vocals of Xen have a clarity and forced power on 'Tyranny of Dissonance', with more distortion and flute driving it along. It breaks midway and there is a punctuated percussion and blasts of guitar. Leah's vocals have a folk resonance like Pentangle or Renaissance but the heavy guitars always remind us of the heavy aspect of the band, especially at the end of this track when the pace quickens and feels more chaotic.

'Make You Scream' begins with marching timpani drums and fractured signature. Leah's vocals are again well executed and improvised in some places along a vibrant tempo with heavy guitars. 'Tightrope Somnabulists' has a gorgeous flute that floats along the guitar phrases. Even as the tempo gets faster the flute is a beautiful embellishment; a real oddity with all the metal distortion but flute balances it all out nicely. The gentle flute passage with Luke's fingerpicking guitar work is mesmirising. The vocals come in very late but are welcome after a lengthy instrumental section.

The diversity of styles continues on 'Dragonfly' that has a Euro pop feel especially due to the vocal style of Xen and overall musicianship. The riff breaks into a heavy flute and guitar melody. The band are tight and inventive with some moments that are simply inspired; this song is a wonderful example of the dexterity of the band. The lyrics are arresting; "dragonfly, you came upon me in the sun, and in your flight you cast a love spell, a simple heart spell."

'End without End' has some dynamic percussion from Scott and a gentle guitar rhythm. Again the vocals are unusual from Leah, almost identical in tone to Xen which works well for the continuity of the band although they have had two main vocalists for the creation of this album. Xen was the singer who remained with the band in its current state. The lyrics are thought provoking; "retract reset forget, dark around the aperture, light beyond the wall, death mask in silhouette, celebrate the discord, and orchestrate the fall."

'Misunderestimated' is one of the best tracks with a real guttural distorted guitar and some more folkish vocals from Xen. This is a genuine oddity with power riffs and almost a Celtish vocal treatment. The song breaks towards the end into orchestral strings and a cinematic soundscape is generated. This one is well worth checking out and showcases the original approach of the band to their craft.

'Mustard Brush Tango' has a quirky percussive figure and Eastern musical feel. Its idiosyncratic nature is highlighted by the jazzy flute flavours and contagious cha cha cha Latin tango rhythms. The sound is as jazzy as the band will get especially with Karen's gorgeous clarinet. This instrumental is one right out of the box and works well as a piece of inventive and bold diversity.

'Status Anxiety' has an acoustic intro, Leah's sweet vocals, and builds with a strong measured rhythm. It feels accessible as alternative metal in places and breaks into a spacey section with David's swirling keys and pulsating bass. The flute augments the soundscape along with the choppy guitars on an irregular time sig.

'Adjustify' is different with vocals by Tomas and heavy distortion section that trades places with jazzy melodies. Due to the vocals this is a unique track on the album but still feels part of the whole due to the consistent treatment of the musical sporadic approach.

'Bipolar Bear' is another instrumental that focusses on experimental ideas such as a chiming sound, backwards effects, and the swooping flute. Eventually a fast guitar riff breaks through, then stops abruptly as more nursery chimes ring out. This is one odd piece of music with rises and falls of tension and release throughout; one is never sure where the music will take them, like a bipolar disorder, so it keeps the listener on their toes. 'Few and Far Between' is a return of Leah's vocals and feels more like a song after the previous unpredictable experimentation. Her voice, and Xen's, is such a wonderful accompaniment to all the musical mayhem. There are moments of chaos as usual with some grinding power metal riffs that break into quieter passages at will. This is one of the better tracks on the album with excellent vox and guitar artistry. The lyrics are inspirational; "it's your life, it's the part you play, performance over for another day, but in the mirror who do you portray, the final curtain's just a breath away."

'De Vito' is a short transition of music with Xen's voice mixed to the front. The heavy time shifts are sporadic and progressive. 'Glass Eyes' open with chiming atmospherics and swell in volume with guitar feedback and a heavy riff. The flute somehow keeps up with all the riffing with elegant quality. The vocals are handled by Leah who is also magnificent on flute. The lyrics are quite potent; "corporations rise and fall, the masses pinned against the wall, slow the rat race to a crawl, life goes on and on."

'Skyscraper' closes the album with another fish out of water featuring the raspy vocals of Shane, sounding like Alt Metal. Shane screams his throat raw but is also able to provide some cool vocals on sections such as the melodic line "hopefully you will be assured my intentions are pure." The lyrics are mostly delivered with forced aggression and some expletives thrown in; it even looks as though it was censored as some extreme lyrics in the booklet are not delivered. It is an interesting way to close the album with a slab of Screamo but for some reason it ends it on an appropriate note, as there were so many diverse styles previous.

In conclusion, the album "User Hostile" is one of the most diverse albums I have heard in a long time. The varied vocals are one reason but it is mainly due to the fact that the band desire to inject a variety of influences and musical methods to hammer home their thematic content. It should appeal to those who like metal but not too heavy, and it will certainly appeal to those who desire to hear something different. A Lonely Crowd know how to balance out ambiance and heavy music with precision and this album captures this unusual style with innovation and adroitness. The band are very skillful musicians and hopefully will be able to continue to produce excellent albums like this in the near future.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is the debut album from Australia's own A LONELY CROWD. Without question a Heavy- Prog recording and with strong female vocals. I didn't notice this until after spending a week with this record that there are two different female singers. The original is Leah who then left after recording seven tracks and the new singer Xen who is featured on five songs. There's even a couple of guest male singers who are on three tracks in total. The music while heavy uses a fair amount of flute which I like.

"Blessing In Disguise" is a short mellow intro track with female vocals. "Barbed Haywire" is a pretty heavy instrumental but the heaviness is contrasted well with the more laid back passages with flute. "Tyranny Of Dissonance" has this heavy under-current with female vocals. I like the flute. It's intense after 3 minutes then it settles again. "Make You Scream" has to be a top three for me. It's relaxed at first then everything including the vocals turns intense before a minute. Lots of passion here but the contrasts will continue. I like the keyboards after 2 minutes and the vocal melodies that follow. "Tightrope Somnabulists" features flute and heaviness early on then it settles 2 minutes in. Vocals don't come in until after 4 1/2 minutes. An interesting track. "Dragonfly" is mellow with vocals but it kicks in before a minute. "End Without End" reminds me of Canadian singer Sam Roberts.

"Misunderestimated" sounds great with that nice heavy sound with vocals. "Mustard Brush Tango" is a different but fun instrumental with some guest clarinet. "Status Anxiety" opens with acoustic guitar and reserved vocals. The bass and drums join in then the synths roll in before 3 minutes. "Adjustify" kicks in quickly then settles back with male vocals. "Bipolar Bear" is an instrumental that begins with this carnival-like melody and it's contrasted with these heavy sections with flute. "Few And Far Between" is a top three with those reserved female vocals and laid back sound early on. A nice heavy sound then kicks in. Great track ! "De Vito" is a short vocal tune. "Glass Eyes" features atmosphere before the vocals, heaviness and flute take over. "Skyscraper" is my final top three. It opens with the sound of someone walking in a building before heaviness and male vocals take over. He's screaming now. Nice !

Without question this is a band to keep an eye on and I highly recommend "User Hostile" to anyone who is into Heavy-Prog.

Review by VanVanVan
4 stars If you want to get an idea of how much variation Lonely Crowd was able to smash into this album, listen to the first and last tracks. The album begins with something that can almost be called a country twang; gorgeous female vocals intertwine with a quirky acoustic guitar part that, absurdly enough, reminds one of the acoustic moments of Between the Buried and Me. Already, a listener (and hopefully, a reader) begins to see that Lonely Crowd is far from complacent; they are entirely unwilling to sit within one genre even on a 1 minute introductory track.

If you continued to follow my advice and went on to the last track, you would scarcely know you were listening to the same band. The breezy, acoustic twang has been replaced by a hyper-aggressive sound that falls somewhere between Rage Against The Machine and Pain of Salvation. Gone too are the lilting melodies of our previous female vocalist, in their place we find male vocals snarling and spitting; belting and screaming in a way that is by turns abrasive and melodic. Think of "Used" by Pain of Salvation and add in another heaping spoonful of screed and you'd have a pretty good mental picture of what the song is all about.

So now you know how the album starts, and how it ends. What's important, though, is what lies between, and I can't imagine that the gamut of styles that comprises the meat of this album will leave any prog fan disappointed. The powerful instrumental "Barbed Haywire" juxtaposes heavy, almost math-rock guitar against dreamy atmospheres and disturbing ambiences, mixing flute melodies with crunching guitar riffs to create a track that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Steven Wilson's Grace for Drowning. The epic and beautiful "Glass Eyes" crosses fuzzed out riffs with frenetic flute parts and tosses wonderfully harmonized vocals on top to evoke the heaviest dream you ever had. "Make You Scream" mixes an almost martial drum-beat with psychedelic, heavy guitar and then channels Joni Mitchell and Grace Slick in equal parts to deliver a slinky, powerful vocal line on top of it all. The jangly "Bipolar Bear" sounds like someone bought a music box from hell's gift shop and then sampled it in a song inspired by King Crimson's "Red." "Mustard Brush Tango" combines an Ennio Morricone soundtrack with metal polka by way of Estradasphere. These descriptions are becoming increasingly ridiculous but hopefully you begin to get the idea.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the band members were big fans of both Opeth and Porcupine Tree; I can pick out the kind of almost-dissonant, weirdly tonal guitar parts that seem to be all over Opeth albums, and there are melodic elements that I think could have fit very well on Porcupine Tree albums. That said, however, the way the band has managed to take all of these sounds and synthesize them into something new really is remarkable. I'm reminded at times of Leprous and Pain of Salvation, as well as the aforementioned groups, and yet, I'm hestitant to even label this a metal album. There's just too much variety in the construction and style of the tracks for me to really be comfortable calling it anything in particular, to be honest, except perhaps to remark that it would seem to fall into the nebulous categorization of "heavy prog" in the most literal sense, even though it's not always heavy.

If I have one gripe with the album it's that I think it runs a tad long; there's just so much packed into an already fairly long album (about an hour) that it can be challenging to sit through in one listen. That said, it's a tremendously impressive piece of progressive music and one that should simultaneously sound familiar and fresh to devotees of progressive rock. Excellent, if slightly challenging stuff.


Review by Warthur
3 stars A Lonely Crowd's debut album starts out with what sounds like a fairly inoffensive old-timey number, finishes with a palette-cleansing alt-metal rant, and in between visits a wide range of eccentric musical territories. It's let down a little in the consistency department, partially due to the wide range of genres the band explore (I could do without the alt metal sendoff Skyscraper) and partly because the band were undergoing a bad case of Revolving Door Syndrome when it came to their vocalists - the result being that two different lead vocalists and a smattering of guests appear on the album, giving the band a rather faceless presence.

What saves the album is the group's competent avant-prog performances which is reminiscent of trying to fuse RIO with modern day heavy prog to create a strange hybrid. User Hostile is not an album I expect to return to regularly, but if they can get a stable lineup and focus more on their strengths A Lonely Crowd may prove to be an intriguing new feature of the musical landscape.

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