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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 3021 ratings

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Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars After the critical panning that Tales got and the departure of Rick Wakeman, Yes figured that they'd have to try something completely new. And that is exactly what they did with Relayer.

As with Close To The Edge, Relayer contains three long songs, one spanning the entire first side of the album and the other two dividing the second side roughly equally. But that's about where the comparisons end. "Relayer" is by far the most extreme album Yes ever put to record. In terms of sound, the album is heavier, more metallic and more driving than Yes' earlier releases. There's also a greater use of jazz and avant-garde textures. As well, and don't laugh, there is a much higher focus on keyboards than on Yes' albums starring Wakeman. While Wakeman may have played a couple of rousing solos in his time with Yes, most of the music was focused around the core of Anderson/Squire/Howe. Newcomer Patrick Moraz, however, finds himself taking lead for just about all of side 1 and much of "Sound Chaser" as well. Issues begin to arise, however, with Moraz's prominence, since the keyboard sound on this album, along with much of the production, can be incredibly grating. Another complaint is the inclusion of "To Be Over"; while it's a pretty song, its not especially moving and seems almost wishy-washy compared earlier Yes ballads.

Complaints aside, let's get to the meat and bones of what makes this album worth your while. What would that be, you may ask? "Gates of Delirium", of course. Prog rock has its stereotypes, and if you like 'em, well here you've got 'em. Alongside "2112" and Rick Wakeman's entire solo career, "Gates of Delirium" is one of the finest example of hammed-up, over-the-top, total cornball "Dungeons and Dragons" prog. It's got it all. Lyrics about gods awaking in thunderous roars and all that jazz, and let's not forget the 8-minute instrumental battle sequence. Yes, you heard that right. An *instrumental battle sequence*. For 8 minutes. Complete with sound effects!

But in all of its overt cheesiness, "Gates of Delirium" manages to deliver some exciting, stinging, bombastic, and thoroughly complex music. The level of interplay in the band is really some of the finest that they ever had. Howe, Moraz and Squire's lines flow chaotically, but organically, into one another, and Alan White pounds away with one of the most spirited performances of his career. And of course, once the dust settles, and the soundscape has been reduced to rubble, we have "Soon". Like night turns to day, Steve's soft guitar serenade and Jon Anderson's chilling vocals arise from the ashes to bring the album to its spiritual climax. I'll admit, "Delirium" was probably the most difficult Yes epic for me to sink my teeth into at first, but it's paid off very well.

Despite its flaws, this is still an album that every Yes fan must investigate and is perhaps even an album that Yes nay-sayers who prefer heavier sounds should refer to. No masterpiece by any means but still an excellent 4 star addition to any prog collection.

Magnum Vaeltaja | 4/5 |


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