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THE TEA CLUB

Crossover Prog • United States


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The Tea Club biography
The Tea Club is an independent rock band from New Jersey. They are known for writing songs of an epic nature, comparative to the early progressive rock bands of the 1960's and 70's. They also incorporate elements of post-rock, alternative rock, and space rock. A major part of the band's signature sound are the dual vocals and harmonies of Patrick and Dan McGowan, as well as their usage of unique guitar chords and chord patterns, often times played in alternate tunings. Patrick and Dan also draw nearly all of the band's album and promotional artwork. The band currently consists of Patrick McGowan, Dan McGowan, Joe Rizzolo, Jamie Wolff, and Renee Pestritto.

The Tea Club was formed in 2003. Between the inception and Fall 2006, they independently recorded four EP's, one of which attracted the attention of producer/ engineer Tim Gilles (Thursday and Taking Back Sunday). Tim produced, recorded and mixed their first full length album entitled "General Winter's Secret Museum", which was released in July 2008.

After briefly touring General Winter's Secret Museum along the East Coast, The Tea Club returned to Big Blue Meenie Studios to record their second album in the Fall of 2009. The album was again produced by Tim Gilles, and featured guest keyboardist Tom Brislin (Spiraling, Yes, Renaissance).

The Tea Club released their second album, "Rabbit", on October 9th 2010. They spent the rest of 2010 and the majority of 2011 playing many shows along the East Coast, including ProgDay, the world's longest running progressive music festival. Reviews and articles about the band were featured in publications such as Metro Philly, Indie Music Reviewer, Origivation, and JUMP. They ended the year 2011 by playing an acoustic show opening for Jimmy Gnecco of the band Ours at the North Star Bar in Philadelphia.

In early 2012, The Tea Club once again returned to Big Blue Meenie Studios to record their third album with producer Tim Gilles. Following the recording sessions, The Tea Club were asked to open for the Swedish progressive rock band Beardfish for their mini-tour of the United States in May 2012.

The Tea Club's third album, "Quickly Quickly Quickly", was released on November 15th, 2012 to overwhelmingly positive reviews.

-Bio by Dan McGowan, updated Mar. 2013

The Tea Club official website

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GrapplingGrappling
CD Baby 2015
Audio CD$14.98
RabbitRabbit
CD BABY.COM/INDYS 2010
Audio CD$11.90
$11.89 (used)
Quickly Quickly QuicklyQuickly Quickly Quickly
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$15.00
$12.22 (used)
Rabbit by Tea Club (2010-10-26)Rabbit by Tea Club (2010-10-26)
CD BABY.COM/INDYS
Audio CD$39.73
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THE TEA CLUB discography


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THE TEA CLUB top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 37 ratings
General Winter's Secret Museum
2008
3.97 | 80 ratings
Rabbit
2010
4.17 | 205 ratings
Quickly Quickly Quickly
2012
4.22 | 73 ratings
Grappling
2015

THE TEA CLUB Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE TEA CLUB Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE TEA CLUB Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE TEA CLUB Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Stehm-O
2004
5.00 | 1 ratings
Love Your Enemy
2005
5.00 | 1 ratings
Clouded Gloomy Beloved
2006
3.13 | 5 ratings
The Tea Club
2011

THE TEA CLUB Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Grappling by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.22 | 73 ratings

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Grappling
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'Grappling' - The Tea Club (87/100)

The Tea Club's Quickly Quickly Quickly was probably the finest progressive rock album released in 2012, and I made no effort to hide my enthusiasm for it. In my eyes, they merged the modern with the traditional par perfection on that album. They did for me what most others couldn't; that is, prove that traditional 70s prog could be harnessed to suit a cutting-edge sound. More exciting that was possibly the fact that The Tea Club showed earnest potential to be one of the few from the progressive rock underground who could possibly earn serious attention from beyond the close-knit prog scene that's mustered together as the years have gone by. Like the best parts of The Mars Volta and The Dear Hunter were paired up with the pastoral warmth of Genesis and cerebral overload of Gentle Giant, there was plenty of reason to feel excited for this band, even if (no, especially if) a listener had spent most of their lives listening to the style already.

So yeah. With Quickly Quickly Quickly, I thought relatively widespread attention might be on the trajectory for The Tea Club. I no longer think that about the band come Grappling. This has nothing at all to do with the false assumption The Tea Club are somehow less deserving of accolades than before. Nor will I say that Grappling is a completely new ballgame for the band I've called the best working band in US prog rock. No. For what it's worth, Grappling is an intense continuation of the band's sound. They have never sounded this dense and harrowing. If it was even somehow possible (apparently it is) the musicianship on Grappling makes the frantic instrumentation on Q3's "Firebears" almost sound soothing by comparison. It should be stated before anything else that The Tea Club have unleashed another masterpiece here, and it doesn't even fall short when compared to the modern classic that preceded it.

Yet The Tea Club have still distanced themselves from widespread success on this one, now probably moreso than ever. They've moved towards ever-increasingly complex and vintage territory, most likely to the glee of self-proclaimed proggers and the chagrin of everyone else. It's an interesting thing, really; I would usually peg a retrogressive 1970s revival as being inherently tame compared to something new, but The Tea Club have managed to sound more challenging than ever as their sound becomes more vintage. The result of which is an intensely multi-layered album that doesn't give itself up easily to a listener. Grappling is another amazing album from these guys, and even if it has more of its foot in the traditional than I've heard from them before, it is most certainly fresh new ground the band is exploring here.

Comparisons with the old guard only do so little in the case of modern reviews, but I would like to say how much I felt reminded of Gentle Giant throughout listening to Grappling. The Tea Club are easily more emotionally in touch here than Gentle Giant ever were, but I imagine a similar creative process of trying to build up each arrangement to the absolute brim. Compare that to Q3 or even Rabbit, where the prog rock fireworks were moderated by a subtle pop tendency. I wouldn't say The Tea Club's fundamental songwriting approach is much different than its been on past records, but as composers and arrangers, it's another game entirely. Even on the most pastoral and pop-oriented track "The Fox in the Hole", The Tea Club are continuously trying to test the boundaries of how much density they can get away with.

The overwhelming complexity isn't a good or bad thing on its own but it does largely define the experience of Grappling, especially when it's set up in comparison with the band's past work. I will say that I am glad I've given the album as much time and patience as I have. Some technically-inclined music reveals itself immediately, but there is little instant gratification here. Even if you're a prog veteran, be unsurprised if the first few listens leave you cold. On the first listen, I certainly knew I was listening to something great, but wasn't feeling it the same way the first spin of Q3 left me on my ass. Sure enough, repeated listens start bringing sense to Grappling. "The Fox in the Hole" and "The Magnet" probably stand out as personal favourites, if only for the fact they remind me most of Q3. Amid the constant pyrotechnics, it's an added accomplishment that each of the six labyrinths here has a character of their own. "Dr. Abraham", for instance, is hectic and angular. "The Magnet" has a quirky optimism, whereas "The White Book" sounds desolate by comparison.

Do I really endorse the increasingly complex, proggy direction The Tea Club are going down? Even loving Grappling as much as I do, I'm not sure I have an answer to that. Suffice to say, it offers its own experience that is distinct-- though not separate-- from their past achievements, with all the pros and cons that come with an artist's evolution. At the end of the day, I think it's just inspiring to hear a band play to the absolute limits of their abilities. And considering I can think of few in progressive music today that play together as well as The Tea Club, that is saying a lot.

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 Grappling by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.22 | 73 ratings

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Grappling
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Smurph

5 stars The Tea Club are one of the best unsigned bands on the planet. Over the years they've blended long-form symphonic rock, complex arrangements, and some beautiful melodies/chord structures.

This time they've taken a step forward in their sound... while they are still obviously influenced by the early 70's (especially in the mix and compression levels), they are reaching deep into a place that could only exist in this modern world of paranoia, surveillance, and humanity's ever-impending self-destruction.

Even at 'Grappling's most triumphant moments I'm overcome with a sense of sadness, as though the only way to celebrate our lives on this planet is through understanding its darkest depths. Am I traversing a beautiful forest with an underlying feeling of being watched by something or someone that intends to impede or even kill me? Am I on the subway, underneath a concrete jungle, surrounded by people but touched by a sort of loneliness one can only feel in the company of narcissistic beasts? Or is this all a dream? Have we already lived our lives?

This is apparent especially on Dr. Abraham, which may be The Tea Club's best song in their discography. It's one of the most immediately weird and off-putting tracks they've done, though it retains a catchiness that sticks with you for days. After a couple dozen listens to this track I still get goosebumps. It's great to hear a non-metal and even non-hard rock band give off a frightening vibe while somehow still retaining hope. (If hope is capable of being itself.) While there are a couple similarities to them on the 2nd and 6th track, this album connects with me more than anything Genesis ever did.

There's also something to be said about the keyboard playing on this album. Upon first listen you might think they have 2 keyboardists. There is a certain level of detail in the arrangements that few modern prog bands have accomplished, especially considering they went the natural sounding route of playing to a drummer (who kills it on this album) instead of a click.

I can't forget the vocals either, which are the most developed and focused of any album by The Tea Club. Each individual aspect of the sound is pretty much perfect to me. No refrain sounds repetitious, no section egregious. Even with a couple small parts that sound obviously 'prog' I never felt as though I was ankle deep in cheese.

This is absolutely not a mechanical wankfest of notes. This is beautiful, forward-thinking, strange music that will deeply resonate with you if you have heart and a desire to more deeply understand the human condition. 'Grappling' is a testament to musical dedication and creativity. You owe it to yourself to at least give this album a listen.

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 Grappling by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.22 | 73 ratings

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Grappling
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars THE TEA CLUB's latest offering continues down the same path as their previous album "Quickly, Quickly, Quickly" although to my ears this is more dense and more proggy. There's just so much going on at times that it's almost overwhelming. We also get wholesale changes with a new drummer, keyboardist and bassist on board while the McGowan brothers continue to lead this club writing the compositions along with playing guitar and doing the vocal parts. Oh and thankyou Dan for the free digital download.

"The Magnet" opens in an energetic manner before it settles down with vocals. The guitar is relentless as it builds. It's the guitar/ drum show before 3 minutes and check out the instrumental sound a minute later! It settles back but not for long, nice prominent bass here as well. Vocals are back after 5 minutes. "Remember Where You Were" has a laid back intro including relaxed vocals. I like the synths here as well as the organ 2 minutes in. Passionate vocals follow then they settle back along with the sound. Great section 5 minutes in followed by a killer instrumental passage. How good are the vocals when they return 6 minutes in.

"Dr. Abraham" opens in a dark and powerful manner then it calms right down as the theatrical vocals arrive. Some interesting lyrics here. It's so intense 2 minutes in followed by spoken words. It's intense again with so much going on before 4 minutes, almost avant sounding. Another calm follows with whispered vocals. It sounds like mellotron 5 minutes in then it all starts to build until chaos hits us. Great sound before 8 minutes to the end. "The Fox In The Hole" is led by theatrical vocals, drums and violin early on and check out the instrumental section after 2 minutes. So good! There's an interesting instrumental conclusion to this track as well.

"Wasp In A Wig" is my favourite song on here. Man I feel so good just hearing the intro each time as the vocals join in. Some avant leanings 2 minutes in then it turns all instrumental. The vocals are back after 3 minutes. I really like the sound after 4 minutes right to the end. "The White Book" is the almost 10 minute closer. A spacey start to this one as mellotron and vocals then join in. A GENESIS vibe takes over before 2 1/2 minutes and it's more powerful here. Vocals are back but more passionate this time. A calm before 3 1/2 minutes and vocals follow. It's spacey again before 5 minutes then kicks back in before 7 minutes. A calm before 8 1/2 minutes to the end.

I still feel that "Quickly, Quickly, Quickly" is my favourite from this band but this album is going to take some time to soak in. Certainly this is one of the better modern Prog bands out there and their whole catalogue is well worth checking out.

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 Quickly Quickly Quickly by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 205 ratings

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Quickly Quickly Quickly
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Jerlwayne

5 stars My first review - and this album deserves it. Quickly Quickly Quickly is a powerful expression of progressive rock, melding classic and modern themes into a unique, artful masterpiece. After several listens I believe it deserves a spot in the collection of any discerning prog fan.

"Firebears" is an emotional epic that keeps delivering. There is a rough edge beneath superb playing all around. The drums drive the track - sometimes too close to the edge, but never over. Guitars and keyboards dance around and into each other with glee. This track unfolds after many listens - there is a lot going on and it all fits. It makes me want to keep listening.

"The Eternal German Infant" features a whimsical lyric that immediately pulls you in. As the story unfolds, you sense several classic flavors throughout as many reviewers have noted (the nod to Genesis halfway through is unmistakable), but their concoction is delightfully fresh. Delicious.

"Mister Freeze" bubbles out with a funky bass that belies serious depth. Haunting, but not gloomy. This is what I love about the album: they weave modern chord progressions throughout while eschewing the doom that has shrouded prog over many years. This song presents a thread of hope amid shadows.

"I Shall Consume Everything" is the real gem in my view. It encapsulates everything I love about progressive music and could stand as one of the finest songs of this age. I can hear a thousand classics throughout yet I only hear one band - and I absolutely love it. What a finisher.

OK so I am a fanboy. But I am soaked in prog over many decades (and many years on this site), and I constantly search for modern bands who speak old languages in fresh tongues. A stellar review of their new album Grappling led me to this (as I type this, my pre-order download has just arrived and is fiercely beckoning) and I am giddy to pop my cork for QQQ. I cannot wait to hear the new one.

This is a must-have masterpiece and deserves my five stars.

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 Grappling by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.22 | 73 ratings

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Grappling
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by themortician

5 stars I don't normally write reviews because, well, I despise writing them, but I've been following the Tea Club for almost 10 years now, and I will say this...

There is no band on progarchives--no... in this world, with this much skill, this much heart and creativity, so much original and refreshing music to bring to this world, and yet are not signed, not as noticed as these well deserved, hard-working, passionate musicians.

The Tea Club are the next big art rock band. Unfortunately, timing is almost everything in the art world, and it seems they missed the train. And yet, they remain completely obstinate; their endurance and strength never veering. They're not just musicians. They're artists. They're in it for the art, and no one can argue that. Now maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but I truly believe that the McGowan brothers have the talent and audacity to be the next Radiohead, the next Beatles, the next Genesis... their songwriting and boldness are unparalleled as far as I can see right now and I have just about listened to everything on the top progarchives list for the past few years...

I'm not going to describe this album. I'm not going to shower it with compliments. I will just say this...

This album is bold. I almost despised it at first (I'm a huge fan of "Rabbit" and "Quickly..."). But keep listening to it...

I guarantee you will see how bold this album is...

I give it a perfect score, not because I think the album is flawless, but because it's exceptional, daring, and composed at full capacity from the musicians' souls...

This is not about skill or sound... this is about vision...

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 Quickly Quickly Quickly by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 205 ratings

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Quickly Quickly Quickly
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars A sonic kaleidoscope, The Tea Club presents a quartet of songs that appealed to me from the start. Energetically tasteful, Quickly Quickly Quickly never fumbles under its own vigor, keeping the listener engaged throughout with a variety of interwoven sounds and a decidedly symphonic panache.

"Firebears" I knew I would like this as soon as that driven opening blasted through my speakers. The drumming throughout is a highlight, offering enough texture and variety by itself to compete with the tightly woven fibers of sound presented by the guitars and keyboards. Midway through, we're treated to a shimmery, jazz-tinged section with wandering bass and hushed vocals. The enigmatically beautiful vocal melody that closes out the piece is so satisfying.

"The Eternal German Infant" Alternating between hard-hitting incursions and a certain Echolyn-like whimsy, this second song demonstrates the broadness of style The Tea Club is capable of, all while maintaining a respectable coherence.

"Mister Freeze" Temporarily abandoning the motley soundscape for a quiet acoustic song, this contains both mellow and darker passages. It is the album's "breather," but that does not make it any less admirable.

"I Shall Consume Everything" Pairing heavy progressive rock with a bit of a country shuffle and smooth harmonies, this song has the angst-ridden edge of a band like The Dear Hunter, as it gradually adopts more symphonic elegances.

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 Quickly Quickly Quickly by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 205 ratings

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Quickly Quickly Quickly
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of those bands who, like Birds and Buildings, have a distinctly modern sound which feels like a logical continuation of the experiments of underground prog bands past rather than mere mimicry of it, The Tea Club offer an excellent collection of tracks on Quickly Quickly Quickly. Think of any progressive band from King Crimson to Radiohead and if you listen carefully you could probably find echoes of them somewhere deep in here, whether it's one of the many surprises concealed in the bizarre epic Firebears or the bombastic tantrum of the Eternal German Infant or the sinister netherworld of Mr Freeze. In a year not short on excellent prog albums, Quickly Quickly Quickly stands out as an album which will hopefully gain more widespread appreciation over time.

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 Quickly Quickly Quickly by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 205 ratings

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Quickly Quickly Quickly
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Orsaeth

5 stars The Tea Club are a progressive rock band from New Jersey, USA, started by brother tandem Patrick and Daniel McGowan. After honing their sound, and releasing several EPs and a couple full length albums, The Tea Club (TTC) dropped their third full length album, titled Quickly Quickly Quickly, on November 27th. Had I stumbled upon this sooner, it easily would have made my Top Albums of 2012 list, as it is absolutely a prog rock masterpiece. It is complex when it needs to be without being at all difficult to listen to, and it knows when to back down and let gentle waves wash over the listener.

Consisting of only four tracks, and starting with the sprawling, near-18 minute long epic, "Firebears", this is not an album for those not initiated into progressive rock fair. The musicianship is inventive, layered, and perfectly executed. The drumming on just the opening track is enough to make a name for drummer Joe Rizzolo. It is very Gavin Harrison- esque, using subtlety and skill to create stunning fills and passages as well as having a few oddly timed rhythms, which end up sounding very satisfactory in the general mix of the music. The guitar parts are fluid and melodic, resulting in some very comforting sounding lead melodies, even when the music ramps up the intensity. Occasional nods to classic prog bands such as Yes, Genesis, and Camel as well as more post rock influences are heard, but TTC manage to sound very unique and fresh. The keyboards are sparse and gentle, but are woven nicely into the guitar parts to build wonderful textures in both the softer and more intense moments. The McGowan brothers share vocal duties, and both acquit themselves excellently. Their harmonies are beautiful, and their individual passages showcase brilliant, soulful singing from both. It is easy to tell they really feel passionate about their music and the lyrics that they write.

Lyrically, QQQ is quite complex, with one song, "The Eternal German Infant", using acrostic poetry for its refrain. The song seems to tell some sort of fairy tale, in a style similar to that of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles. The language is strange, vibrant, and pleasing to the ear. The music fits the words, floaty and happy, but not afraid to turn up the tension and intensity. "Mister Freeze" is by far the calmest song on the album. It has a few moments that are almost post rock in between serene acoustic passages interspersed with keyboard swells, and a few darker sounding sections.

The Tea Club are a fantastic prog rock band, and Quickly Quickly Quickly is certainly one of the top prog records of the last few years. It is modern sounding, without forgetting where its roots are. Utilizing magnificent musicianship, skillful songwriting, and a brilliant lyrical mind, this album is a unique musical journey into a strange, peaceful landscape, and stands as one of the top albums released in 2012.

Score: 87

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 Quickly Quickly Quickly by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 205 ratings

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Quickly Quickly Quickly
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by robbob

3 stars Well my first experience listening The Tea Club

Very good crossover prog .Very good musicians..innovators ..creative...

This is good modern prog rock.

The first song Firebears my most likeable :a song with many delightful changes of styles .It reminds me sometimes old Genesis (PG era)...the The Mars Volta...sometimes Big Big Train.

The other 3 mostly in the level of the first one.

I can,t deny this is very good but is not so original :This is a perfect mix between the Mars Volta and Big Big Train ...with some Genesis drops...

I like this innovative crossover prog rock but the front line is in TMV and BBT.

3,5 stars for me.

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 Quickly Quickly Quickly by TEA CLUB, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 205 ratings

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Quickly Quickly Quickly
The Tea Club Crossover Prog

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars

Promises promises promises kept

Before this album came out, Dan asked me to have a listen to some premixed tracks, and see if I could do a review. At the time, I was quite busy, so despite playing the tracks a few time, I never got around to doing that review. Now, finally, I do have the time, so it's time to live up to the promise.

This album definitely takes some time to grow on you - at least in my case. There is so much to hear, and so much going on that it's easy to get lost, this is not for people who like verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus-verse-yeah style music.

Fire Bears explodes in your face straight away, with a great instrumental intro. The band members surely have the skill to hang on to their instruments in what may sound to the casual listener as chaos. If you sit down for it, you hear an intricate piece of music, that can compete with classics by Genesis, Pink Floyd or Van der Graaf Generator, while at the same time not forgetting the fact that this is the 21st Century.

The Eternal German Infant is not much different in quality, although it is a completely different track. The intro is even more 'bombastic', although using that word seems unfair. Not because bombast is bad, but because although the keyboards are clearly in the lead here, in no way does the band attempt to mimic a band like ELP. It's fresh, energetic and modern, with a hint to classic prog. Half way through the track, I can't help but being reminded of some of the tracks on Van der Graaf Generators Trisector album - and the darkness and power equal that of old VDGG.

With Mr. Freeze, in comes a completely different beast - musically speaking. The comparatively mellow track, with a prominent roll for a very modestly played bass changes the atmosphere completely. Again, it's dark as an old mansion at night with all fuses blown - but this time almost hypnotically so. A masterpiece in painting atmospheres with sound, as far as I'm concerned.

After awaking from hypnosis (even without someone snapping their fingers), I shall Consume Everything takes us to yet another galaxy. One that brings to mind waterfalls and green valleys, mainly due to the way the keyboards and guitar interact - a bit like the effect the acoustic guitar has in Rush' masterpiece 2112. The build up from their to a magical prog rock track, which once again combines power and darkness in a VDGG like manner is implemented perfectly.

When I heard General Winter's... the first time, I was impressed a lot, and I gave it four stars because I felt it had to prove itself over time. It did. With Rabbit I needed time to let the album grow on me, and I gave four stars again, because I felt there was more to come. I was right... and more has come. This time, all the good parts of the other two albums, and more, are combined. This album does not need to prove itself, it already has proven itself over the past three months.

A solid master piece, the first in many years.

As usual, thanks to Dan, for allowing me to pre-listen - and apologies for not writing this earlier

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