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Napier's Bones - Monuments CD (album) cover


Napier's Bones


Crossover Prog

4.16 | 13 ratings

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5 stars The opener "Standing childe", an epic adventure of 23 minutes, already sets a high mark at the beginning of the fourth album of english Progressive Rock Duo Napier's Bones. A clever move of the guys to choose this track for the prominent first slot, because the beginning is functioning like an overture. Long, dramatic melodies are sung by the lead guitar and synthesizer and I would not wonder, if mastermind Gordon Midgley would be a fan of late romantic symphonies. The overture also introduces Gordon's signature guitar sound, which reminds me on Robert Fripp. Napier's bones are dealing with the heritage of bands like Yes and King Crimson, and while both of them do not sound like in the seventies anymore, Gordon and Nathan fly with us in a time machine back to the heyday of Prog, those times, which are often missed by fans of that genre. After a sudden acoustic guitar break Nathan appears, who tells the story of Ordgur the hunter. Historic and archaic topics are an ongoing element in the works of the band. And while this might be not sensational, the expressiveness of Nathan Tillet's voice clearly is. As I stated in previous reviews about the band the voice of Mr. Tillett sets them apart from many competitors within the Neo-Prog sector. The ordinary Progrock-singer does not deliver much more than the words, Just think on Jon Anderson, besides angelic precision there are not many different colors in his voice. Tillett sounds much more like a Rocksinger, capable of raspy aggressiveness, while also not a stranger to beautiful mellow tones. Back to the song the heroic topic is nicely supported by the use of major chords. The section from "Born to this duty" up works with a chord-progression, which could also be thought out by The Beatles. The Break on the word "I see you now right before my eyes" could be my favorite moment of track one. It's quite fascinating how the mood and expression of Nathan changes. Furthermore the change between choir-sections and solo-voice makes the track even more interesting. To sum up this is an impressive start.

The second track "Mirabilis" starts with ambient sounds and acoustic guitar, which paint the scene like a good visual artist, a nice contrast to the rocking start of the previous song. Again it features well arranged background vocals, an element, which was not so much present on other albums of the band. Before Nathan enters the listener is bound by an arabic rocking interlude, some great use of the Wahwah-Pedal here on the guitar.

"Waters dark" can not grab my attention as much as the other tracks in the beginning. But the interlude surprises with Mellotron-guitar interaction. On the other hand it can function as a showstopper sitting in the center of the album. The song is like the eye of the tornado, not very thrilling, but a nice place to rest.

The third track "Free to choose" brings a Spanish character on the table and unlike the epic and complicated structures before we get classic songwriting with bridge and chorus clearly separated. It is the most accessible song on this Album, Napier's goes Pop, the verse even reminds me on a song of the Eurythmics.

"The heights" are shining brightly because of brilliant acoustic guitars. A good chord progression and again a clever vocal arrangement make this song stand out. The synthesizers stepped back and the guitars are clearly the star at the edge of the stage.

Now the conclusion: "Monuments" is clearly the best album of the Prog-Duo. Why? Well compared to the other works the songwriting is stronger (except Waters dark). They have put more care into the arrangements, which are clearer and more effective. When I think on older works of the Napier's the arrangements were sometimes too thick, guitars and synthesizers were battling against each other and not ranked clearly enough. On "Monuments" Gordon and Nathan have avoided over-instrumentation and have pushed other elements like the vocal-arrangements for the sake of clarity and more diversity. Sometimes there is a touch of Beatles, which I think is always welcome. But the red line along the work of Tillett and Midgley is still visible: Basing on 70s Prog giants like King Crimson and Yes they transfer all virtues of these old classics to the presence, while the expressiveness of the singer, the lyrical content and the influence of Folk add an own footprint. All listeners, who miss classic Progressive Rock today should visit this tall and mighty monument. Looking back on my ratings of other albums of Napier's bones this is clearly a five star album honoring the effort of these guys to get better and better.

heartscore | 5/5 |


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