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Cliffhanger - Not To Be Or Not To Be CD (album) cover





3.35 | 41 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First of all, this is the best band I've ever heard from the Netherlands. All kidding aside, this is classic-style progressive rock that should appeal especially to old-school fans; the instruments and tones used are almost exclusively the ones that were available in the early 70s, so no modern metal or electronica elements ever creep into the mix.

"Innocent Victim" does some fun u-turns from frantic prog craziness to an almost- pop-rock sound to the kind of carnival synth feel that ELP did so often; there are some nice moments in the middle sections...although I think either the guitar or synth is a bit out of tune (and yes, a synth can be out of tune...Moogs and other early analog synths were infamous for drifting during long performances). "Sewers" begins on a more low-key feel (you might say, a Mello feel) but the insane piano and ambient synth burbles lead us into the depths of the sewers, which apparently are home to odd- metered heavy instrumental workouts. And I though there were only alligators and C.H.U.Ds down there! "The Artist" and is much more of an epic structured composition, backing the uncharacteristically audible vocals. This piece also confirms that while the band can certainly handle more intricate uptempo sections, the slower parts are where they really hit their stride. My favorite track "Ragnarok" features Loki leading an army of giants to overthrow the gods of Asgard using warm analog synths and a classic lead guitar sound. This is a true progressive rock epic in the classic style, including the 'weird sounds' section that PINK FLOYD, among others, often utilized. The piano, synth, and guitar 'swell' section near the end reminds me of some of my favorite moments from "Trick of the Tail". "Moon" is a powerful, restrained and moody conclusion to the album...or is it? Eventually the band gets to display their humorous side, for better or worse.

I really can't help but like these guys. They are talented and creative enough to make their retro stance never seem like a pose; it's rather a dedication to the era that gave us the great music of the genre. The voice keeps getting buried in the mix- which is ok, since it's not the strongest element of the band. The guitar is very tastefully used- it sounds great, and he's a competent player. The bass player occasionally ventures into the spotlight, which is only fair as he is quite good- l especially love his buzzing fuzztone during parts of "The Artist" which reminds me of why I liked ELP's "The Barbarian". Hans Boonk (I love that name!) is also impressively precise and skillful on the drums. It's a triumph and testimony that something that sounds like a work from the 70s sounds less dated than a lot of 80s or 90s albums. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a solid and enjoyable album that will fit right in between GENESIS and ELP on a playlist.

James Lee | 3/5 |


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