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Votum - Harvest Moon CD (album) cover

HARVEST MOON

Votum

 

Progressive Metal

4.07 | 169 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars Another heavy prog band from Poland. There sure is some great music coming out of Eastern Europe! And this one clocks in at no less than 69 mintues!

Harvest Moon kicks off with a real gem--a piece that betrays very little of the heavier, more metal-oriented stuff to come.

1. "Vicious Circle" [8:13] takes the listener on such a nice ride through quite a diverse range of soundscapes. It starts off with a slow picking acoustic guitar that is backed by a cool organ sound. When drums and bass finally join in a great electric guitar solo completes the intro section. Settling into a very steady slow pace, the vocalist enters with a very strong, soulful presence. As things amp up at the chorus everything is working so well: no over play or show-boating. Then there is an ominous lull, which fulfills all expectations when a heavier section kicks in (with some great lead guitar arpeggios and bass and drums). At 4:45 we are back to lull. A very delicate 'distant' el guitar and organ play a little before the beginning section is recreated (with a bit more play from the organist). This time, however, the solo section is much expanded and displays much more energy and technical instrument play-- especially from the drums, bass, and lead guitar. Vocals rejoin to complete the song but the ride plays out with a minute of very eery space noise. [9/10]

2. "Cobwebs" [5:01] sounds quite a bit like it could have come off of PEARL JAM's Ten despite the presence of some growl/screams and engineering effects. Luckily, the music is not detracted by the screams. A great song for the Octane Radio listeners. [8/10]

3. "First Felt Pain" (6:52) starts out with a very heavy modern metal sound (stereotypically signalled by the machine gun riffs from the kick drum). But that's just the first minute. At 1:05 a pause is filled with a fast strumming acoustic guitar before the heavy rhythms rejoin in a flow that supports the vocals (which are surprisingly melodic). The instrumental solo sections are still steeped in modern heavy metal. At 3:45 an emotional acoustic section ensues that feels so powerful and heartfelt--including the guitar solo and engineering effects (panning b- vox). At the six-minute mark, all sound drops away leaving some layers of very eery industrial noises which play out to the end. Very effective! Incredibly unpredictable song. (9/10)

4. "New Made Man" (5:27) has a very familiar classic rock feel to it, a simpler, more straightforward song structure, but, when put into the context of this whole album, it holds a very stunning presence. It sounds very much, to my ears, like a cross between early DAVID BOWIE and the Aussie glam rockers, ICEHOUSE--or THE RE-FLEX. At 3:10 the song breaks down to arpeggiated acoustic guitar and some random sounding tickling of the piano ivories. Very pretty! Quite a melodic gem! (9/10)

5. "Numb" (5:01) is a gentler, almost LUNATIC SOUL song with layered vocal harmonies sung over a very simply picked acoustic guitar and some hand percussives. The final minute and fifteen seconds plays out with some "windy"-sounding synth washes. Overall, "Numb" sounds a lot like a Southern Rock classic from the likes of THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND or THE MARSHALL TUCKER BAND or even KANSAS or BLIND FAITH, TRAFFIC, or THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION. Again, another surprise in terms of this band's musical dexterity. An excellent song. (9/10)

6. "Ember Night" (6:58) "slows" things down to a very standard heavy metal pace. Unfortunately, for the first 3:35, the song does very little musically to make it stand out from the rest of the metal scene--and certainly does little to help it hold up to the album's previous stellar five songs. The jazzy lull from 3:34 to 5:15 does nothing new or exciting. A return to the harmony vocals and the first sections of music add nothing--continue to bore me. It just never engages or does anything special. (6/10)

7. "Bruises" (7:43) begins with some acoustic guitar play over some synthesizer washes. The vocal and rhythm section kick in to establish a slow, almost piano jazz song. Then the music begins to build--first the more insistent rhythm from the bass and drums, then the lead guitar starts to warm up--but then everything drops out to leave just a soft piano and the vocalist-- who, though heart-felt, seems weak of voice. Staccato acoustic guitar strumming restarts the song--ushering in the full-scale heaviness of the band. Now the vocal fits better! But, then, the soft piano (and, this time, drum) supported emotional vocal section returns--this time to much better effect. At 5:28 when the full power of the song is finally released it is working: great drumming, great chord sequences, great vocal performances (including b-vox) and great melodies. The final 45 seconds allows the piano, delicate drum play, and whispered voice to bring the song to decay. (9/10)

8. "Steps in the Gloom" (7:51) begins with synth wash and reverb-electric guitar notes, soon joined by delicate piano play and soft-jazz kind of drum and bass play. When electric guitar starts to play in the second minute the electronic keyboards are doing some very interesting things. The vocalist enters around 1:45 sounding quite relaxed and laid back. His emotions are soon amped up as the band kicks into a section of driving sound. Back to softer, and even ambient section reminiscent of some of the things DAVID SYLVIAN, RYUICHI SAKAMOTO and TREVOR HORN were doing in the 80s. Awesome strumming and soloing from electric guitars around the five-minute mark. And the bass play! This guy is getting off, too! Best instrumental section of the album! The final 90 seconds is a kind of SEAL/"Crazy" return to the song's main vocal followed by an ambient outro. An odd song that defies categorization. One of the album's best. (9/10)

9. "Dead Ringer" (6:52) begins with a rolling bass line and steady, strong drum pace to back what sounds like a DAVID BOWIE-like vocal performance. The heavier chorus section betrays a different path (though Bowie had his metal-like moments--and may have used this stylistic approach were he peaking in the post-90s Prog Metal era.) Cool guitar work at the 3:10 mark followed by hollowed out section with rock-steady drum, muted bass, and slow, muted vocals. Excellent! It then rebuilds to full-scale onslaught on our senses. I love the powerful, firm-but-understated drum-work throughout this song! The song 'ends' at the six- minute mark while another cinematic display of ambient synth play carries the song out to its end 52 seconds later. My favorite song of the album. (10/10)

10. "Coda" (6:32) begins like a cross between PEARL JAM and TOOL before shifting into a brief delicate section. AT 1:45 the synths and electric guitars enter with some really new, fresh sounds, the song's feel and rhythm and tempo shifts, the industrial synth takes over for a bit, then it all comes racing back into a full-out metal bang. For 30 seconds. A 30-second spacey section is talked over in a BONO-like voice before the band climbs back into banging mode--with some nice (though stereotypic) support vocal harmonies. This could be a ARJEN LUCASSEN song! Were I one to key in on lyrics, the story here might prove to be quite interesting. Yet another eery space wash synth journey plays out the final minute of this song. (8/10)

11. "Numb - A Reprise" (2:35) ends the album with a return to the acoustic side of this band of talented and creative songwriters and rock solid performers. (8/10)

This album is a real shocker to me in that I find myself liking it far more than this year's new release from fellow prog countrymates, RIVERSIDE. There is much more dynamic energy here--as if VOTUM really cares about every note of their music, as if they are really into their music--into engaging and at the same time hyping up their audience. As much as I appreciate the creativity and leadership of MARIUZ DUDA and RIVERSIDE, I have to say that with Harvest Moon, a new band has usurped the crown of Poland's prog scene. That band is named VOTUM.

Hail to the new king! Long live the king!

Pretty darn near a perfect album and definitely a masterpiece of creative, energetic progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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