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Introitus - Elements CD (album) cover





3.94 | 247 ratings

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5 stars To me, the whole purpose of this wonderful website of ours is the opportunity to discover great (and some not so great) new artists and bands, who you would not otherwise have come across in day to day listening or record shop browsing. Stuff that moves you beyond the typical and classical music of the genre, as great as that music is. I have found so much great music since joining, and to the list of exceptional talents must surely be added this incredible band from Sweden, and the highlight of what has been a very good year for new music.

Introitus (another name for the vaginal orifice, apparently!) are a Swedish project led by Mats Bender, and feature a host of family members in support. This is their second release, and it will not be too long until I get the debut based upon this wondrous work. For this unashamed classical neo-progressive band have produced in Elements an utter masterpiece, and one that will be on the Lazland deck for many years to come.

Opener, The Hand That Feeds You, starts off in a loud and bombastic fashion, with passages clearly inspired by the heavier moments of bands such as IQ and Pallas. In other words, classic neo-prog. This, however, is not the be all and end all of this band, for within each track there is a multitude of moods, influences, and tempos. Four minutes in, we get the most beautiful acoustic guitar and flute, drawing in a more melodic passage that takes you right back to 1972, except that it is bang up to date in a modern and unique production. This leads up to a superb electric guitar solo, and we have a denouement that is epic in statement, and epic in delivery, with some lilting Celtic chants backed by keyboards reminiscent of Mark Kelly at his best.

Earth is the first of the short "Elements" instrumentals and this leads us into the first of the two tracks on this album that can only be described as attaining that perfect genius status in music, Like Always. This is a wondrous ballad, with an incredible vocal performance by Bender's wife, Anna. This is a moving love song which takes you to heights that are almost impossible to reach. The guitar solo and lyrics/vocals at the end are fantastic, and the love that created this love song is, you know, utterly genuine and utterly perfect in its musical delivery. So good, this track is exhausting.

Wind is the second short instrumental element, and reminds me, with its flute section, of I Talk To The Wind. This takes us to Restless, which has an uplifting, soulful guitar solo before moving into its first, very noisy, and very neo phase. At times manic, but never less than interesting, in particular with Mat's keyboard performance. Half way through, the track settles down into a lovely pastoral pastiche, before gradually building up to match the volume and intensity of the opening track. There are, amongst all this, some very nice Celtic chants that I am sure will appeal to fans of bands such as Mostly Autumn and other prog folk.

Fire is the next Elemental instrumental, and clever effect and crystal clear production create a fire in your speakers. This takes us nicely onto Dreamscape. This features very clever music and lyrics which tell the story of a dream. Actually, this is an area where this band excel, the art of bringing to vivid and interesting life, events that are so common place, that you rarely spend time analysing them. So, love in Like Always, death in the staggering closer, and dreams in this track. The keyboards and effects create perfectly the dream story with some ethereal vocals.

Water is the last of the elements, and nice effects again take you to a small rockpool.

The best, though, is saved until last. Soulprint (for Mother) is one of those tracks that will stay with you until your dying day. I can only compare it to two of my all time favourite tracks, both of which deal magically with bereavement - Mother by Judie Tsuke (from the Secret Agent album, which is sheer class) and the exceptional Eternally by Karmakanic. This track is as good, if not better, and I can think of no higher praise than that. Anna's vocals are of the highest quality, and the music delivers seventeen minutes of highly original classy rock, with a very special mention going to a rhythm section of Mattias Bender on drums, who is excellent here, and Dennis Linkvist, whose thundering bass is consistently excellent throughout the album. The heavier passages deliver a wall of sound not really heard since the pomp days of Genesis in the mid-1970's, and the orchestral passages, with some moving cello pieces, are symphonic prog of the highest level.

I gave a five star review to Pendragon's Passion at the start of the year, and I really did not think that those (comparative) granddaddy's of the neo-prog scene's work would be bettered in 2011. Whilst Introitus are nowhere near the commercial league of bands such as Pendragon, with this release they absolutely deserve to be catapulted into the major division of neo and prog in general. I swear that the nerve ends tingle and shatter when you hear Anna sing mother to sleep.

For me, this is the utter highlight of what is shaping up to be an excellent year. It is available on Spotify, so give it a few listens, and then, like me, download it from Amazon for the ridiculously cheap price of 6.99. It is worth a damn sight more than that, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Five stars for this, a masterpiece of progressive rock music. Neo prog rock that manages to evoke its many influences, without ever being derivative or retro, and is, at times, exceptionally moving, and always oozing sheer class.

lazland | 5/5 |


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