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Airbag - The Greatest Show On Earth CD (album) cover





3.91 | 440 ratings

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Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer
4 stars One of the most recommended albums from 2013, Airbag's "The Greatest Show on Earth" alluded me for most of the year. I finally got the chance to hear it, and I have to admit it isn't quite what I expected. Airbag is hugely influenced by Pink Floyd, and I hear Porcupine Tree in there, too. However, they don't really sound like either of those bands. They definitely have their own identity.

That identity is one of atmosphere, strong guitar work, and detailed keys. The album itself is thick with ambiance from beginning to end. This is due in part to the keyboard work offered by multiple members. They range from spacey to piano to soaring, but they are almost always there, haunting and speaking softly. On top of this foundation, the guitar lets its voice be heard. Bjorn Riis is extremely talented with the guitar, and his steeled tone gives us awesome licks and hardened solos that pierce the music to its core.

The entire band is extremely unified, that's for certain. They unite with almost post-rock dexterity, creating beautiful texture and interesting melodies. The vocalist, Asle Tostrup, has a very mellow, almost weak, tone to his delivery. He has a good voice, though I feel a truly spectacular singer could carry this band to new heights.

The album is about society and surveillance. I think it's about more than that, though. Feelings of desperation and misery are definitely felt throughout this album, as a call for privacy and grace is first and foremost. However, I will say that the scope of this surveillance is probably global. I ultimately think Airbag is making a religious statement here, but I won't get into that now.

Creeping, dark, and foggy; "The Greatest Show on Earth" feels laid bare and exposed. These feelings are expressed so very well here. In the thick atmosphere of keys and piercing guitar, one can feel the desperate attempts at reclaiming life. "Call Me Back" (my favorite), for instance, features amazing lyrics and melodies, but I do feel that the rest of the album feels a bit samey. It's one long melancholy trip, but it does hold interest.

While I like the two part "Surveillance" track, I would definitely say that the strongest tracks are the ones in the middle, especially "Call Me Back", "Silence Grows", and title track. Though the music is a bit one note at times, it does end up featuring personality and somber mood. That idea is pretty representative of the whole album, then, as the album is clearly meant to be atmospheric and very personal. I believe it succeeds in most of what it aims to do, as it delivers a mood and a foundation for guitar theatrics. To call it a masterpiece would be an overreach, but I will say that this fantastic album is outstanding in many ways and needs to be heard by any prog fan.

Second Life Syndrome | 4/5 |


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