Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Outer Limits - Stromatolite CD (album) cover

STROMATOLITE

Outer Limits

 

Symphonic Prog

4.01 | 61 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Stromatolite is the name of a primary type of rock, and it's also the name of a definitive 2007's prog masterpice, more specifically, the comeback album of Outer Limits, an exciting work full of diverse nuances and varied elements merged into a unique, cohesive symphonic style. Despite the major line-up change implied by the absence of the band's traditional lead singer Tomoki Ueno (extravagant vocalist, charismatic frontman, proficient supporting keyboardist), the remaining quintet manages to display such an array of musical inventive ideas that, in the end, "Stromatolite" signifies their absolute peak. Hopefully, this will mean that this resurrection phase won't be ephimeral. Bassist Tadashi Sugimoto assumes the lead singer's role and even adds extra duties on stick, cello and contrabass to the fold, in this way increasing the band's sonic sources. The guitarist's robust riffs and Frippian solos are great assets, and so are Tsukamoto's pyrotechnical deliveries of orchestrations, solos and textures on his multiple keyboards, but it is clear that violinist-violist Takashi Kawaguchi stands out as the main protagonist instrumentalist. In terms of style and compositional tendencies, the album's overall vibe may remind us of "The Scene of Pale Blue", regarding the elegant use of disturbing moods, the somber magic in the melodies' arrangements and the fluid bridge built between the versatile keyboards and the solid rhythm section. 'Cosmic Velocity' kicks off the album with an infinite fire that seems to whirl around forever: the spiralling violin lines, the Fripp-meets-RIO guitar phrases, the dissonant neurosis displayed in the keyboard adornments, all of them are brought together in a sonic machinery within a dynamic rhythm basis. The abrupt ending feels totally ordained as the closure of a perpetual climax. What a beginning! And things go on with 'Consensus' - the first sung number -, which brings an aura of mystery and disturbance in a sort of "industrial progressive rock" with a playful hook (as paradoxical as it may sound). The reflective 'Lullaby' sounds like a bittersweet daydream that emerges from the distant past evoked by ghosts in a Rococo palace's garden; Sugimoto's vocal delivery feels like telling us a long kept secret under blankets of sadness. There's nothing more to say about the string section except that it is tremendously wonderful in its magnificence. Things get punchy again (in fact, punchier) with the instrumental 'algo_rhythm.c', which finds the band creating a mixture of Bozzio-era UK and ELP with added Gothic and almost-metallic nuances. 'Caprice', an amazing violin solo piece Baroque-style serves mainly as a prelude to yet another powerful instrumental, 'Spiral Motion'. That's why the last lines of teh violin solo turn into a dissonant mood, in this way opening the door to the oppressively myterious ambiences of 'Spiral Motion'. Once again, the Fripp-like guitar leads are featured here among the fiery violin interventions and between the meanders set by the keyboards' architecture. 'Dahlia' is less frantic in tempo but remaing incissive regarding the elaboration of disturbing ambiences. Even the lead guitar is more featured here than on any other track of the album, despite the fact that the violinist remains the most recurrent soloist. Anyway, the instrument that gets most of my attention is the keyboard, with its cosmic ornaments set in a sinister frame, in this way consistently paving the way for the impending explosive coda that closes down the track in an explosive fashion. As if the band intended to give us some relief from the general oppressive mood that has been developed so far, 'Pangea' displays motifs that trend toward more epic realms, something like a crossroad between action-movie's soundtrack and "Masquerade Overture"-era Pendragon. Anyway, Outer Limits, true to themselves even in their most candorous moments, insert some mysterious nuances in the brief violin-bass dual interlude (more like Abraxas). Track 9 is what its title implies, a chamber-inspired pipe organ piece that bears some relative resemblance to the solemn side of Devil Doll. The last track occupies the album's last 10 minutes - it is 'Constellation', an optimistic progressive chant that bears a candid spirit, not unlike contemporary Pallas. Although there's a definite twist in the musical mood, the closing track's density inherent to its melodic bombast (somewhat dominated by keyboards) oddly enough makes a connection with the previous repertoire. With this plethoric display of colorful musicality "Stromatolite" comes to its climatic end - Outer Limits has made a hell of a comeback.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this OUTER LIMITS review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives