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Panic Room

Crossover Prog

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Panic Room Incarnate album cover
3.68 | 81 ratings | 4 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Velocity (5:12)
2. Start the Sound (5:08)
3. Incarnate (7:35)
4. Nothing New (6:13)
5. The Waterfall (5:24)
6. Into Temptation (7:52)
7. All That We Are (5:37)
8. Searching (5:48)
9. Close the Door (5:06)
10. Dust (7:13)

Total Time: 61:08

Line-up / Musicians

- Anne-Marie Helder / vocals, guitars
- Jonathan Edwards / keyboards
- Yatim Halimi / bass
- Gavin John Griffiths / drums, percussion
- Adam O'Sullivan / lead guitar

Releases information

CD Firefly Music FFMCD006 (2014 UK)

Thanks to Second Life Syndrome for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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PANIC ROOM Incarnate ratings distribution

(81 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PANIC ROOM Incarnate reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Second Life Syndrome
3 stars Well, if I've learned anything as a music fan, I've learned that you can never expect every anticipated album to meet all expectations. After being blown away by a few albums so far this year, I had high hopes for Panic Room's follow-up to "Skin", an incredible album full of atmosphere and eclectic attitude. "Incarnate", though, is neither the same type of album nor as good of one, either. With that said, though, "Incarnate" is a wonderful album still.

The beautiful cover art of this new album may give some clue as to the contents. The music is very heartwarming, slow (for the most part), and rather simple. While that may be, it is also quite beautiful. It is an album of songs, plain and simple. The band didn't set out to make some masterwork of progressive proportions, but instead made a lovely album featuring excellent songwriting and some thoughtful lyrics. I did appreciate the latter, as the lyrics on songs like "Nothing New" and the title track are rather philosophical in nature. I wasn't really expecting this, but I love it just the same.

The main presence here is the vocal skills of Anne-Marie Helder. Her exceptional voice is on full display here. She wows again and again whether in both difficult and simple lines. She doesn't even seem to struggle at all, and masters both soaring melodies and low, personal verses with ease. Her rich, full voice is something this band couldn't live without, and her sense of style and presence is rather remarkable.

I think what disappoints me most about this album are the musical choices. Anne-Marie is flawless here, but the choice to tone down the interesting aspects of Panic Room's sound was not a good one. "Skin" featured organic violin passages among an eclectic array of instruments. It really set the album apart, for sure. "Incarnate" has none of this. There is a little sprinkling here and there of guitar genius and the like, but the music is mostly rather simple and low-key. None of the instruments stand out really, though there are some tasty keyboards here and there, especially on the title track or on "Start the Sound". Everything else seems so disappointingly "blah" and just kind of there. There is so much room for experimentation and for more layers of sound, but the band seems just to play it safe.

That said, this is still a good album. It's still enjoyable and very gorgeous in many ways. Heck, the vocals alone make the album worth a purchase. I also won't say there are any bad songs on "Incarnate", though I can't seem to connect with "Into Temptation" at all. There is a bit of a cheese factor on a few (such as "The Waterfall"), but nothing too over the top. My favorites include the wonderful "Start the Sound", "Incarnate", the gorgeous "The Waterfall", and the especially atmospheric "Dust". "Nothing New" and "All That We Are" are both noteworthy, as well.

Panic Room has provided us with a lovely soundtrack moving into Spring, and I think the delicate, subtle nature of this album is very appropriate. It is definitely missing something, however, but not enough to keep me from enjoying it. I don't think "Incarnate" will end up at the top of any list for 2014, and I'm afraid it will be forgotten as the year moves on. Yet, if you have the desire, definitely take a look at this simple and beautiful album.

3.5 stars

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I am on record for having anointed 2012's "Skin" as one of the best prog albums in recent memory, a seductive selection of heart stopping tunes, played by some of the finest lesser- known musicians on the planet. This was a complete package, amazing artwork, crystal clear production, expert technique and seamless songs that simply charmed me to no end. Firstly, there is such a thing as eye and ear candy, her name is Anne-Marie Helder, a beauty with a gorgeous voice, both powerful and evocative, suave and forceful. She can hush, she can rush, growl and howl are her fortes. Her reputation has grown by leaps and bounds, a perennial vocal queen for the prog throne. She has the tools to be the next Kate Bush, and that is saying something! Next up, Gavin John Griffiths is perhaps Britain's current master prog drummer, having pummeled with Fish, Mostly Autumn, Iain Jennings and Karnataka. He has a no nonsense style, solid, masculine and highly rhythmic, providing a foundation that breathes, pants and shrugs eloquently with the material. Jonathan Edwards is an accomplished keyboardist, always elegantly adorning instead of showing off his many skills. His piano work in particular is noteworthy. Bassist Yatim Halimi is a find, a sensational lo-end purveyor, who adds a great sense of lyrical playing to his repertoire, including fretless rampages that will seek out attention. New recruit Adam O'Sullivan takes over the hallowed Paul Davies' role as lead guitarman, a hard act to follow as Davies was a tour de force player, famous for more substance than flash, thus fitting the music perfectly. Adam does very nicely indeed.

I am proud to report that "Incarnate" is a fine follow up to the previous 'dermal' masterpiece ("Skin" is just timeless!), the talent here just too impeccable for any possibility of failure or disappointment. The material is first rate, a fine panorama of various sounds, moods and tones that all seem to fit perfectly in synch with each other as well as a whole, a hallmark feature of "Skin". Now, please take into consideration that this is not going to be a synth solo festival, shredding effect-laden ping-pong guitar duels that feature every pedal known to man or bombastic 6 part suites that rekindle some medieval fairy tale. No, only majestic songs that exude class and quality, fully bathing in prog gloss and shimmering with utter beauty. That being clear, the three epic 7 minute + tracks are clearly the finest selections here, the sumptuous title track, as well as the devilishly charming "Into Temptation" and the colossal finale "Dust" are just impeccable musical statements that transcend musical borders, styles and genres. The violin is gone but the music and the lyrics, phew!

Immediate kick into overdrive with the impeccably visceral "Velocity", a speedy little ditty that charms, cajoles and caresses adroitly, a cool riff and cooler groove makes this an ear- opening statement. Ladies and gentlemen, this album is going to kick your behind something fierce because you won't expect anything surpassing "Skin". Well guess what? All the ingredients are in place for a tremendous ride with Anne ?Marie belting out intense lyrics and impassioned emotions. Explosive!

"Start the Sound" is perhaps closer to classic Karnataka but that's where three of these musicians cut their teeth, as a unit for a long time. The chorus is celestial, soaring like a massive rainbow of kaleidoscope colours, showing once and for all that simple melody can be just as poignant as complex rifferama, sugared by glossy orchestrations that amplify the ache. Bold and beautiful!

The emphatic title track swirls and simmers like some slow-acting soporific anesthesia, the electric piano taking over the reins and leading the whispering vocal prowess, unleashing a heady symphonic barrage that sparkles in the rain. Another fine example of how well thought out the melodies are and the level of build-up needed to give them emphasis. Jonathan Edwards certainly excels in the arranging department! The spiraling ivory keys reveal an inner revelation of eternity, as Helder wails unremittingly. Addictive!

Breathless vocals are splattered all over "Nothing New", a method that agrees very nicely with Miss Helder, highlighting a bluesy guitar that shrouds the fragility of the theme. Cello and viola agree to strengthen the majesty of the arrangement, the orchestrations again bowing to the audience. Edwards does a little piano etude, while O'Sullivan does a few zesty guitar pirouettes. Mesmerizing!

The splashy "Waterfall" could have been a Supertramp song, it's that good! Very English, quite angelic and absolutely anthemic. This could be in a queue, after the classic "Dreamer". Set up the premise properly and then, infuse a rollicking along bass line, emotive e-piano and a good steady beat. Cap that off with another vocal performance from Helder and here is another one slotted "into the old onion bag".

The heavenly "Into Temptation" needs more words, a thoroughly enticing Celtic-prog tinged style that should have been recent the Iona, a towering voice that emotes at the deepest level, almost spiritual but somehow wilder as well. Halimi and Griffiths really braise nicely, very secure and confident in their buzz, an articulate and muscular combo that is intoxicating (throughout the album, BTW!), while O'Sullivan does some slick Phil Manzanera-style licks. Loads of symphonics only escalate the pleasure, one of the finest prog songs ever. World class, truly!

"All That We Are" is a song for the ages, smooth as silk, bluesy, rocky, folksy, pure unadulterated class. Think along the lines of Squeeze and even Stealy Dan with torch song tendencies, full of restrained melodrama in a Hollywoodian setting. Helder shows her mettle and her control is full ON, easily convincing the listener like some actor nailing the scene, gently secure. In a normal world, this would be a galactic hit, rendered by all the glittering stars, Stunning!

The glittering beat extolled in "Searching" is a fine example of the genius presented here, a lovely melody wrapped in dense keys, hard drums and a sultry vocal that would make Ann Wilson (Heart) turn green with envy! The mood is palpitating, in a sonically erotic way, the music being utterly carnal but in seduction mode, haunting the soul with whispered longing. If I play this for a lady friend ?.well,?.she melts right into my arms, ready to 'drown in a sea of love' (a song by Irish pop band the Adventures, I believe) ! Beautiful love songs with deep meaning get the girls every time, as they should always remain the eternal optimists and yearn to become strong and happy women. Astonishing!

Need I doubt that "Close the Door" is anything more than the same scintillating quality of the previous tracks, another absolute winner that has all kinds of emotive ties to everything from Donovan to Roxy Music with a little Linda Ronstadt thrown in for good measure? Yes and more, quality my friends, sheer quality! Like a swing between two maple trees, the summer wind blowing gently, the song holds on to all that we need to sway serenely, in raptured delight. Transcendental!

To end on a song like "Dust" requires a lot of guts as it tackles atmospheric experimentation that winks at This Mortal Coil or Dead Can Dance phased in spectral sheen and neo-gothic grandeur. The piano is cemetery somber, the axe tortured into brief spasms of electricity, Edwards really putting out all the stops on his keys and a schizoid pace that is unbending and unending. Helder diversifies by treating her voice accordingly and howling when need in the more Wagnerian exit. Frightening!

I am a big fan, so I am obviously and unashamedly biased and perhaps even in love with this kind of very romantic and sexy prog. Being a long-time and proud Roxy Music fan, what would you expect, a swerve into math-rock ? Nope, but Panic Room has all the makings of a perfect soundtrack for modern lovers looking beyond the accessible and yearning to venture into the mystical world of progressive enchantment. Far more elegant than any other female fronted band anywhere, Panic Room is that emotional oasis that guarantees keeping the ugly outside world unable to enter one's inner world.

5 Flesh and bloods

Review by lazland
4 stars Panic Room are a band who I have followed since their exceptional debut in 2008 (which I really must get around to reviewing). Not only are they a fairly local band to me in South Wales, but they are amongst the leading lights of that movement of female fronted, melodic, progressive rock bands that have graced this new millennium of ours.

This is a song based album, and is really rather beautiful in places. I simply adore the orchestral backdrop to the bright and lovely Start The Sound (a track which reminds me of the excellent Satellite from the second album).

In fact, the sound of the whole album is not that of an act who have lost a massive influence and character in Paul Davies, but are confident and bright enough in their ability and the band's future to absorb and, hopefully, bring in a long participation in the excellent guitar work of Adam O'Sullivan. That commitment to the cause, by the way, is very amply demonstrated by the decision of Anne-Marie Helder and exceptional drummer, Gavin Griffiths, to end their longstanding association with Mostly Autumn to concentrate on all matters Panic Room.

It is fair to say that Helder is at the centre of much of what happens in this album. Her rich, deep, lilting voice is not only as brilliantly evident as ever, she also wrote five of the nine tracks alone, and co-wrote the remaining four with old cohort, Jonathan Edwards (O'Sullivan also contributing to the Mid Eastern influenced delight of Into Temptation).

As with many song based album's with a distinctive commercial sensibility, there is a deceptive simplicity on first listens. In reality, this outfit wear their progressive rock badges with pride, and play as a true collective, with some interesting and complex soundscapes, ranging from the aforementioned orchestral delights to the delicious blues backdrop of Nothing New (I love Edwards' piano and O'Sullivan's guitar duo at the close with light rhythm of Halimi and Griffiths). There is the finest Supertramp track never made by that band in Waterfall, by which I mean this act have captured that piano led riff and wonderful uplifting sound of the classic Hodgson and Davies era. Traditional prog rock fans will simply delight at the wonders of the album closer, Dust, which creates an incredible atmosphere, very dark in places.

Those who have read my reviews over the years on Prog Archives know that I am a bit of a sucker for this type of music. However, that does not mean I accept any old rubbish.

Incarnate is the sound of a band that will continue to delight us for many a year to come. Confident, and not afraid to make and release a work which really should sell a damn sight more copies in a commercial world sadly dominated by cheesy pop remakes and dull "r 'n b". Come on world. Enter the sphere of a band simply making delicious, excellent music for the sheer joy of such an act.

Four stars. An excellent album, which presently tops my list of an impressive 2014 thus far.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
4 stars "Incarnate" is an excellent Panic Room album that has some of the most infectious melodic hard rock songs the band have produced. As always Anne-Marie Helder is an incredible asset as her crystalline vocals permeate the album. She has an angelic tone that evokes emotion and passion on every song. The album really grows on you; I heard it on repeat for some hours while renovating my house and it was very inspiring. The melodies are so well executed it actually becomes better with every listen.

Among the highlights are Velocity, Incarnate, Nothing New, All That We Are, Searching and Dust, that is one of the most ethereal and atmospheric tracks from the band. The themes include relationship breakdowns and the temptation to explore monogamous relationships.

The music is not heavy but still includes some great riffs and guitar licks. It is an hour of high quality music, not too heavy for those who like their metal light, and features enough brilliant lead breaks from O'Sullivan to satisfy those into well played lead guitar. The keyboards are handled well too by Edwards so it is a great band effort.

I was delighted with this album and hate to add to my top 10 albums of 2014. A great Panic Room album to add to their growing catalogue.

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