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Fish On Friday - Godspeed CD (album) cover


Fish On Friday


Crossover Prog

3.91 | 51 ratings

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4 stars I am guilty for not having picked up on this Belgian band earlier, I guess being a Thomas makes me some kind of biblical sceptic, doubting all the time! Fish on Friday maybe a perfect name for a Christian rock band but that was not what coloured my decision to delve into their craft and make me hesitate. It was ultimately the numerous positive reviews as well as the clincher, my recent infatuation with Nick Beggs' bass and stick wizardry. This master bass man was only a guest on the preceding release 'Airborne' (which I will now hunt down quickly) and is a full- time component on this studio recording. So let it be written: this is a fabulously entertaining recording with immense melodies, scintillating pace and endless instrumental brilliance. Imagine a huge dash of Supertramp (prog and pop sensibilities), Floydian propellant moods and a definite mid-period Genesis flair, sewn with unending details that keep the pace exciting and unexpected. There is also a smoothness that one could associate with prime Roxy Music, especially when the sax kicks in. Brainchild of keyboardists William Beckers and Frank van Bogaert (who also supplies the soft-edged vocals that will remind one of a certain Dave Gilmour), the blessed crew is fleshed out by ace guitarist Marty Townsend, steady drummer Marcus Weymaere, sax/flute icon Theo Travis (Fripp, Wilson, the Tangent) and of course, the solid sonic undertow of Mr Beggs.

The captivating title track sets the prog standards aloft with an epic 10 minute + swoop, illuminating a well-forged path of mood, atmosphere and stylish magnificence. The saintly pace is bold and confident, piano twinkling like liquid gold, haunting mellotron backdrop and 'godly' vocal work, both lead and harmony that may remind of vintage Barclay James Harvest. Marcus Weymaere really riffles like some madman on his thumping kit, while Townsend adorns some marvelous little licks on the guitar. A simply divine first communion of the finest order, wailing mellotron notwithstanding.

'Just a Nightmare' sources darker themes, piano, organ and synths in the lead, carving out a suave vocal that enthuses right from the get go. Nick Beggs' rumble underpins a brisk stride that embellishes a lovely main melody, dreamy and hopeful. Theo Travis introduces a sensational sax break that inspires and cajoles, remindful of Andy Mackay's passionate style.

Romanticist inspiration continues on 'She Colours the Rainbow', a lighter mood that remains firmly piano driven, pushed along by swirling keyboard work and a gentler swoon. A short ballad that is both heartfelt and fragile. Very pretty indeed.

Having been banished into a such a gentle space, 'Callin' Planet Home' revs up the rockets somewhat, the electric guitar taking up the challenge as it curls around a rather insistent chorus, infused by Travis' devilish flute medley, a churning organ and a smooth as silk rhythmic foundation. Massed choir voices relay a sense of density and majesty. Townsend's languid slide guitar break winks at Dave Floyd, so one can certainly appreciate the suave intent.

'Ghost Song' is another proggy high point, a slow cooker that nods towards the classic Pink Floyd sound, what with the smoky lead voice and seductive backing vocal crescendos. Theo Travis adds his usual amazing touch with some inspired wind instrumental savvy. Another highly addictive melody.

The lightweight but compelling 'Radio' has a humorous radio intro and a punchy discourse, adding more sweeping choir work and lavish keyboards and offering a magical melodic ride not unlike recent work by Nick Magnus, Patterson-Eyre and such. The endless vocal labyrinth is truly phenomenal and addictive. Yes, it poppier material but very enticing indeed.

The persuasive 'Sanctuary' is another extended extravaganza that will immediately remind some fans of the more prog elements of Alan Parsons Project, the vocal department being very adept at multiple surges and drilling the chorus into eternity and armed with a heavier guitar-led crescendo, elevating the piece to lofty heights.

The obligatory sweet love ballad 'Stay' definitely stays in your mind once seduced by the shockingly striking choral work. A breathtaking and starry-eyed piece of heartfelt beauty that will pull at the heartstrings in that most convincing way possible. Yes, simple can be so lovely! Immediately marshaled to my daily 'hit' list, as I could listen to this gem on and on and on. The guitar break rekindles fond memories of Ian Bairnson's finest solos, where verve and exhilaration combine to dazzle.

The highly impulsive 'Don't Love Me to Death' is lyrically intriguing, a much rockier disposition with rambling guitar rampage, swooning keyboards and a driving beat, the voices adding incredible depth to the mix ('You don't give me room to breathe') and a slippery synth solo to seal the deal.

Quirky and quite progressively tinged 'Tick Tock' is strangely remindful of Dream Academy, a short-lived synth-pop group of the 80s that had a brief moment in the spotlight, especially in view of the massed voices and the intricate keyboard cascades that overwhelm and conquer. The razor sharp guitar exchange is quite welcome, together with the ringing orchestral backdrops.

The very short, acoustic and frivolous 'My Dog' adds a little personality and a bark or two. 'Cheesy lyrics' indeed! This is a killer album that caught me quite unaware but better late than never. Shame on me for letting this epic scroll go by, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

4.5 divinity hustles

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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