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Overhead - Metaepitome CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.92 | 117 ratings

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4 stars I have a deep admiration for prog from Finland, with prized older stuff like Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti, more recent releases from the magnificent The Giant Hogweed Orchestra, Groovector, Viima and Hidria Spacefolk in my collection. I had therefore high expectations for Overhead, especially audacious when kicking off an album with a title track that clocks in at 19.40, a somewhat sultry embroidery of various influences, spooky space groove mixed in with great symphonic details, a incisive guitarist in Jaakko Kettunen that uses his clever fingers adroitly both in riffs and soloing, Tarmo Simonen handles piano and various keys with controlled effect, Janne Pylkönen drives a nasty propulsive bass and complements the soft/hard display by drummer Ville Sjöblom. The vocals are a bit problematic for me as Alex Keskitalo obviously comes from harder rock schooling and I just can't really get a grip on it. The whopping title track does create a compelling mood, full of contrasts with hard walls of guitar, jagged edges as well as gentle ruminations and dreamy passages that evoke, spellbind and stun. The subtle piano in particular is used as a moderating medium, weaving ornate sonic architectures, increasing the drama by adding majesty to the arrangement. The final segment has a plunge into heaviness that arrives suddenly and effectively, raising the level of grandeur without falling prey to typical metal clichés, pushing the music along towards some kind of release. A fantastic piece of epic prog music. Bravo! The next piece "Warning: Ending" covers a completely different spectrum of sound, this time letting bubbling electronics rule the sonic waves, rustling flute competing with riffing guitars, pushing the theme along relentlessly, the bass reptilian, the drums shuffling madly. The vocals are very contemporary, which means it is a bit weak to my ears, seemingly devoid of power and assurance (Galahad's Stuart Nicholson would have been a serious upgrade here) and flirting with distraction. The massed choir effect is also not a success, very stereotypical but the music is certainly very acceptable. A stinging guitar solo adds some nice spice to the mix, the piano waving a goodbye. Another sizzling highpoint (sic!), "Point of View" has acoustic guitars pinging gently while Alex' vocals are seemingly treated, making them actually pleasant. The lyrical Kettunen fret solo is a simmering triumph, with a variety of unusual "axioms" squeezed out with the phrasing, toying with the various volumes and effects; this is damn fine emotional playing. "Butterfly's Cry" is a bass-fueled rhythmic dance that succeeds in being inventive, introducing savant drum fills, twist n' turn organ forays, a well-thought out fluttering synth solo and somewhat oblique guitar work that are left cold because of a useless vocal that is bland and weak . Alex is good singer perhaps but not for this kind of material, here it becomes very self-evident. The next short instrumental track should have been stretched out more, as it contains wonderful promise that is left unfulfilled; Simonen's piano is pure joy and majestic splendor, so why cut out so quickly, damn! "Dawn" is another extended 16 minute epic, a groovy bass-led fantasy, simple but effective, correctly identified by a PA colleague (clemofnazareth) to be similar to Alan Parsons (referring to classic I Robot tune "the Voice" perhaps), with zooming synthesizers, cascading guitar chords, all held together by that unrelenting supreme bass riff, with Alex' vocals actually very a propos here, almost a hushing delivery. I happen to enjoy long groove tracks that noodle onward as long as the bass rules, no problem! Fans of Hawkwind, Eloy and other space cadets will enjoy this track and most of the album without a doubt. All in all, a good addition that could have been simply masterful with a few small changes, an improved vocalist with more oomph would have helped on most tracks. 4 frozen lakes.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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