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Glorious Wolf - Zodiac CD (album) cover

ZODIAC

Glorious Wolf

 

Crossover Prog

3.41 | 7 ratings

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TCat
3 stars Glorious Wolf is a project of guitarist Ruud Dielen who released the first album under this moniker in 2017. In November of 2019, his new album "Zodiac" will be released in physical form, though it is now already available on Bandcamp. This album features Dielen performing all of the instruments except for a few guests. Also, where his first album was all instrumental, this album features vocals and lyrics(co-written by Dielen) by Oscar Anema on 5 of the 7 tracks. The regular album has 7 tracks with a total run time of over 50 minutes, but there are also 2 bonus tracks included which are tracks remastered from the debut album.

The album begins with the track "Constellations" (11:08) which features Anema's vocals and a tenor sax from Andre van de Ven along with all other instrumentation performed by Dielen. The song is inspired by the energy we receive from the stars, specifically, the stars in the Zodiac and Ursa Major. The music starts with a nice, expansive sound created by synths and repetitive bass playing in a spacious and atmospheric style. After 2 minutes, a rhythm is established by the guitar and drums, and vocals begin at 3 minutes. The feel has the expansive feel of Pink Floyd, even when it begins to get more intense later with heavier guitars. The Floydian inspiration is very apparent, and though it is very nice, some of the efforts to sound just like PF are forced. The vocals are a bit questionable, veering off key a few times, and not expressive enough. The sax comes in around the 8 minute mark after the vocals end and the music continues along with a moderately slow PF style. The guitar later replaces the sax with a solo that is a bit harsh sounding for the musical style. Vocals return in the last minute of the track.

"Close to the New World" (7:49) has a softer tone and a slow, more minimal beat. The vocals are more melodic and stay in a higher range, but seem a bit unsure and tend to be "wobbly". There is a very nice acoustic guitar section that suddenly erupts into heavy guitars, synths and a much faster tempo. When the vocals come back, they have increased in passion, but haven't really increased in quality. The instrumentation is quite good, and there are some great passages, but it does, at times, seem pasted together, not really flowing as smoothly as it could, however, I enjoy the instrumental passages much more than the vocal sections. "Zodiac" (7:19) moves to a linear feel, reaching for a King Crimson style, but it all has a kind of clunky feel to it. Again, the instrumentation is the most enjoyable thing about the track. Again, I hear the good intentions here, but it just doesn't flow very well

"Poets" (4:46) begins with a lovely acoustic guitar solo. It features a different vocalist, Frans Verouden. However, the vocals are still questionable and lack feeling, while the lyrics are a bit strange. The vocal melody doesn't really match the instrumentation, and once again, this would have been better off without vocals. "Feelin' Blue" uses synths to create a symphonic feel in the beginning, and then the guitar plays a slow blues-inspired melody with the smooth feel of sustained synths backing it up. The track continues in the slow, blues style which goes on a bit too long and is again ruined by the vocals. "For You and I" (6:37) is an instrumental. This is the best track on the album, nice and expansive, mostly led by the guitars. The tempo picks up later to a moderate beat, and the guitar continues to take the lead with a beautiful, melodic line. After 4 minutes, a high pitched synth takes over the melody and continues in the same moderate tempo. The guitar takes over again later. It's a great instrumental track with some excellent guitar work.

"The Game" (6:15) is a heavier track, a bit harsher, with lyrics that deal with social media and world leaders. The vocals are low and more spoken at first, becoming more melodic later, almost sounding like Mark Knoppfler, but not really pulling it off well. Again, the vocals are quite distracting and take away from everything else that is going on in the track. After this, there are the two remastered tracks from the first album; "Questions" (6:03) and "Aquarius" (5:35). Both of these are instrumental and, because of that, are pretty good, but are both available on the debut album.

I can't help but think that this album would have been much better without the vocals, and feel that the concentration needs to be more on instrumental tracks. Though there are some rough spots even with the instrumental sections, it is still much better than being distracted by the not-so-great vocals. The music is full of great intentions and ideas, and it would have been more enjoyable if these sections would have been able to stand out more without being bogged down by the vocals and the lyrics. Since this album focuses on lyrics to a great extent, it draws the album down. Some listeners might also find that the projects obvious attempt to copy Pink Floyd in the first track could be unacceptable, there is still an impressive amount of musicianship in the instrumental parts that tend to unfortunately get buried in the lyrics. It's good, but unfortunately not great. Hopefully the criticism in this review will be taken as being constructive, because there is a lot of great intentions here that do shine through, but allowing the music to come out without questionable vocals and lyrics would definitely improve the overall experience.

TCat | 3/5 |

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