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Wobbler - Rites At Dawn CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 491 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Wobbler: Rites at Dawn [2011]

Rating: 9/10

Rites at Dawn is the third album from Norwegian symphonic progressive-rock band Wobbler. This band made a strong name for themselves after 2005's Hinterland and 2009's Afterglow. These are two superb releases with jaw-dropping musicianship and developed compositional ideas. Wobbler are known for their decidedly retro sound; the band only uses vintage instruments, including the Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer. This aesthetic remains in full force on Rites at Dawn, but it is approached from a different angle. The previous two albums approached symphonic-prog in a dark and hard-hitting manner, comparable to bands such as Anglagard and Sinkadus. However, they have adopted a much lighter approach here. The first two albums exuded heavy King Crimson and Gentle Giant influence, but Yes is the primary influence here. So much so, in fact, that many are dubbing this album a "Yes clone." I can understand why, for the music here is nearly stylistically identical. However, I disagree with the pejorative connotation that such a label carries. This is a lost Yes album, but it doesn't earn that title simply because it sounds like Yes. This is a brilliantly composed and soulfully performed release that manages to recreate everything that made Yes such a great band.

"Lucid" is a brief atmospheric intro that fittingly sets the album's mood. "La Bealtaine" immediately presents the listener with an array of melodic ideas, backed up a driving rhythm section. New vocalist Andreas Prestmo displays his chops here; his voice has a gorgeous timbre that evokes a Jon Anderson feeling without sounding exactly the same. The short Moog solo near the end is a major highlight. "In Orbit" is the album's first mini-epic. The folk influences are prominent here, although there is certainly no shortage of keyboard wizardry to be found as well. The instrumental sections venture into energetic jazzy territory, and the vocal segments are ethereal. The folk side of the band's sound is even more apparent on "This Past Presence." Quiet acoustic guitars and pleasant flute create a rustic atmosphere. "A Fearie's Play" is a perfect example of a successful short symphonic-prog piece. The vocal melodies are immediately memorable, and the Mellotron is nothing short of majestic. "The River" is the second and final mini-epic. It integrates melodious moments with more complex and intricate jazzy passages. The conclusion is suitably bombastic and satisfying. "Lucid Dreams" is a short ambient outro that ends the album in a cyclical manner.

Rites at Dawn is a stunning release, pure and simple. Wobbler's influences are abundantly apparent; I'm not going to argue that fact. However, I don't think that it's a bad thing. This doesn't merely sound like a 1970s progressive-rock album; it feels like one, too. This is an important distinction. Certain music fans are tempted to throw the word "imitation" at an album like this, but to do such a thing would be a grave injustice. Wobbler do not only recreate style; they also recreate spirit. This is a special album because it encapsulates the soul of a golden age in the most genuine manner imaginable. Rites at Dawn is an enormous success that should not be overlooked by fans of this genre. Leave your preconceived notions at the door and simply enjoy the music.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |


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