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Zello - Quodlibet CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.42 | 36 ratings

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3 stars Zello is a certainly a strange line-up whenever the violin is the lead instrument and you never really know what you're going to get. Like a box a chocolates, I guess. This Swedish group has some positives and negatives that leap out of the speakers right away. The keyboards are Hammond heavy, placed way up front near the Mellotron, which is a very novel concept. Bassist Danne Lindell keeps nice fat time while Svetlan Raket (Par Lindh's new drummer, by the way) excels on the kit. The opening onslaught "I Will be the Wind" is just too close to the Kansas approach (why the overt title?) and it all comes across as a bit misleading. Lead vocalist P.O. Saether sounds at times like Steve Walsh or even Journey's Steve Perry (God help us) and is therefore assuredly an acquired taste, trying so hard to sound like a Yank. Not at all my kind of wedding singer, at least not for prog, as he is way too overwrought, verging almost into a Heavy Metal howler parody. Their line-up is better suited for a more subtle approach as on the 10 minute "Flag of Convenience" which has not only style but also substance, nice piano blending with the grieving Hammond, Lennart's searing violin blazing away furiously but again the forced vocals are almost unbearable. Then something weird happens, unexpectedly laying down a 25 minute monster, as "Zwecia" has the hallmarks of a true prog epic with loads of shifting moods, subtlety and inspiration. Both lead instruments (the violin and the organ) take pleasure in foraging deep into explorative territories with resounding synchronicity, playfully raging when needed and coy the rest of the time. As soon as Saether (allegedly a dentist in real life) approaches the mike, the drilling starts but the instrumental intervals are long, so its goes easier. There is some fanfare like bombast sprinkled throughout (usually thanks to the mighty 'Tron), courtesy of Anders Altzarfeldt, who is certainly no slouch and gives this piece some well deserved applause. Fans of Hammond (and they are plentiful) will surely find much to enjoy. "Anthem." just keeps flowing in the same direction without really offering anything sonically different, except that Saether now is trying to emulate Bruce Dickinson, of all people. Oh well! I cannot help being puzzled by such a narrow concept though and find it hard to envisage any kind of prolific career within such parameters and Zello will have a hard time "progressing" in my opinion. They are certainly deserving of a place in a collection but more out of uniqueness than actual material. It's amazing how a good vocalist that actually fits the style can make such an immense difference. In my years of analyzing progressive music, I have come to the conclusion that the front (lead vocals) and the back (drums) are vital components and often make or break a band's intrinsic value. I guess that explains why I never liked the Rolling Stones! 3 krones
tszirmay | 3/5 |


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