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Airlord - Clockwork Revenge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.39 | 45 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars While progressive rock had peaked and declined in the advent of musical tastes changing, many bands across the world didn't get the chance to partake in the boom of the early 70s but nevertheless tried to have a go at it even as punk and disco were dethroning even the most popular of the lot. AIRLORD were one such band that formed in 1976 in Wellington, New Zealand but like most bands of such remote areas had to go to larger countries to seek fame and fortune. In AIRLORD's case, it was off to Australia although they had many gigs in their homeland playing their original material in live settings. The band consisted of the five members: Steve MacKenzie (guitar, vocals), Ray Simenauer (guitar, vocals), Brad Murray (bass, vocals), Alan Blackburn (keyboards) and Rick Mercer (drums).

Despite having gone down in history as a mere Peter Gabriel era Genesis clone performing symphonic prog with a more caffeinated upbeat quirkiness, AIRLORD did have somewhat of a unique sound even if some of the tracks like "Pictures In A Puddle" are right out of the "Foxtrot" or "Nursery Cryme" playbook. The band released their one and only album CLOCKWORK REVENGE in 1977 and had a short life on the Australian mainland but unfortunately garnered little interest in the eclipsed years of prog when bands like AC/DC were becoming all the rage Down Under. However, despite the clone tag, this album is quite the pleasant little listen and although Genesis is the most blatant influence, AIRLORD sounds more like a less progified and more pop oriented version of classic Genesis with more emphasis on melody, steady rhythms and feel good upbeat passages with some track having a more energized hard rock guitar driven groove complete with soloing. It's actually quite diverse.

The title track opens up, and i kid you not, sounds somewhat like what Genesis would sound like if they happened to have a couple members of Devo or Split Enz in the band with a quirky zolo art pop sort of spin with the vocals of Steve MacKenzie sounding as if he'd joined Alvin and the Chipmunks. The track is also strange in that it's about an army of wind-up toys attacking an old woman. But after the opening track however, the rest of the album alternates between highly derivative mopey Genesis inspired tracks with more serious lyrics that displays MacKenzie doing his best Gabriel to a more rocking mix of hard rock and symphonic prog touches with the occasional soaring synthesizers and a few scant hints of the mellotron. Besides Genesis there are folky Jefferson Airplane types of interactions as well as spaciness that is more akin to German bands such as Novalis and the occasional space rock of Pink Floyd.

The first thing that pops into my mind when i listen to AIRLORD's one and only album CLOCKWORK REVENGE is that it could possibly qualify as one of the first neo-prog albums as it has all the characteristics of the 70s Genesis style symphonic prog but smoothed out into more pop friendly and less proggy compositions with some like some tracks like "Lady Of The Night" being downright catchy enough to hit the pop charts ( just listen to that guitar lick that reminds me of The SImpsons theme! ) I'm one of the rare individuals who doesn't really like the "Foxtrot" and "Nursery Cryme" era of Genesis and personally find these sorts of derivative bands more palatable for whatever reason and while there is no denying the wellspring from which AIRLORD tapped into, these guys definitely deliver a more upbeat and catchy rock performance than Genesis ever did in the early Hackett and Collins years. Call me sacrilegious but i actually like this one quite a bit more. Although it will never convince Genesis fans to desert their idols, this one still deserves a little more recognition than being a mere footnote in the vaults.

3.5 but rounding up because it's not getting enough love 'round here.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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