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Nurkostam - XIII CD (album) cover





2.89 | 16 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars First off, I should preface my review by saying that Toni Nurmi, the bassist of Nurkostam, invited me to review this and Nurkostam's other two releases on the site and provided me with review copies. I don't think this flattering invitation affected my view of the album, but I thought I should make a note of it for the sake of full disclosure.

XIII is the band's debut EP, presenting six songs in a range of styles, all of which hark back to the band's influences from the height of the progressive era. The problem is that the songs only really process one influence at a time. Album opener Iscream sounds a bit like mid-period King Crimson with some influence from more modern heavy rock styles - in other words, a lot like Anekdoten - and is probably the best track, not least because it showcases the three members' instrumental skills wonderfully.

The next two tracks are a bit poppier, Dome reminding me a little of the more commercial side of early Yes whilst Alone showing a few mild Beatles impressions in the guitar parts. They're also the first two songs to feature vocals, and unfortunately this seems to be a weakness of the album; the presented vocal style is of an average level of technical proficiency, isn't very emotional, lacks power and doesn't have much in the way of personality. In other words, it lacks any of the qualities that turns singing from simply making words in time to the music into a full-on performance.

The singer's weaknesses are particularly fatal on Between, a haunting Genesis-influenced number in which the vocalist attempts one of Gabriel's spooky low croons but just ends up mumbling into the microphone. The best song on here with vocals is probably Madness, which has a driving space rock instrumental line that's so loud (like the Syd-era Pink Floyd jams the track seems to have been inspired by) that the singer's highly processed performance is almost entirely drowned out in the mix. Whilst I would ordinary mark a song down for being so unevenly mixed, in this case it really does help.

So, in short this is an EP which I'd have probably given an extra star to if the vocalist weren't present. But even then, it still has issues holding it back from greatness. The abrupt shifts in style from song to song prove that Nurkostam are a diverse group capable of composing songs in a variety of styles. However, it also seems that, as of the recording of this album they hadn't quite concentrated on any particular style for a sufficient time to master it, the result being that the band is a jack of all trades and master of none. The overall impression I had was of a band which could do quite well if they picked one song on this album and concentrated on that particular style, and could end up being spectacular if they picked two or three of the six or so styles they attempt, master them, and then fuse them into a new whole. But in XIII, Nurkostam try to be six different bands over the course of the EP, and that just isn't going to work in the long run.

Still, the instrumental work is good enough to make me look forward to reviewing their two 2009 releases. There's a lot of potential on show in XIII... but it's only potential, not actual achievement.

Warthur | 2/5 |


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