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King Crimson - The Power To Believe CD (album) cover

THE POWER TO BELIEVE

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 1157 ratings

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R-A-N-M-A
4 stars The Power to Believe has been the surprise of the year thus far. Usually when I start looking into the later portions of a famous prog band's career the results are nowhere near as good (See Magnification). I only own a couple of King Crimson albums, but none of them get anywhere near the level of play that the Power to Believe gets. It isn't perfect, but it is highly entertaining and creative.

The Power to Believe I: A Capella has to be one of the most captivating openers out there. As the name suggests it's extremely sparse save for some terrifically haunting vocals. It doesn't really set the tone for a good portion of the album though. As mentioned several times before by my fellow reviewers the Power to Believe is a sonic cousin of Red. When I first hear Level Five I thought was listening to a track that didn't make the cut all those years ago. It is energetic, loud and heavy. Not at all like the preceding track, but perhaps the best of the non Power to Believe (insert number here) tracks.

After passing level five we go to level six, the ice level. Whoops, that's Super Mario 3. What's actually next is Eyes Wide Open, the first real and probably best vocal track on the disc (in this case). There are many out there who do not favour Adrian Belew's singing. He isn't Greg Lake, I'll say as much, but his spacey vocal style is right at home in this technologically advanced King Crimson album.

Thanks likely in part to criticisms of Belew's vocal abilities the Power to Believe has a lot of instrumental work. Elektrik is one of such instrumental. Where Level Five was a relentless torrent, Elektrik stays mostly soft, but urgent. There are plenty of noisy interjections along with the worried guitar work. This isn't really a track to sit down and have a leisurely tea to. I don't really know what you should do while listening to it quite frankly, but it is worth a listen. (Suggestion, maybe you should paint a canary or something equally unpredictable.)

The Facts of Life is apparently so great that it needs its own introduction. In order to introduce us to the Facts of life King Crimson has decided a windswept solitude is the best place; hardly an optimistic outlook. There isn't much to the intro save perhaps for a trip back to the tail end of Tangerine Dream's Rubycon. Good if you like really short ambient stuff. The Facts of Life itself crashes through our tranquil scene with drums loaded. Belew's vocals are pretty grating to begin with, but eventually settle into a better place. It is much heavier than the Earlier Eyes Wide Open, but frankly not as good. The rest of the band is channelling Red once again, but not as good as level five. Probably gets my vote for weakest track.

After a considerable interlude, The Power to Believe II (Calgary Flames 3, har har har) finally makes an appearance. Things take a turn for the ambient yet again. It is most always sparse; at some points electronic and other times very organic sounding (Like I'm playing Donkey Kong Country for the SNES). As good as they are when they are trying to blow you apart with whacked out rock music, this slightly arabesque chill session is even better. From what I've hear of the band it's a bit of a step outside of the box. It is however a welcome one. (See earlier when I said I liked the Power(s) to Believe)

We'll depart from that sonic landscape for the very cool Dangerous curves. It competes with Level Five for top Non-Power spot. We stay in the electronic domain for the most part, but not in the ambient one for very long. There is slow rising guitar riff which eventually turns into the driving force for the song eventually splashing into a wall of sound. It has the same worried feel as Elekrik, but in my opinion surpasses it.

The last track with true lyrics and vocals is Happy With What You Have to be Happy With. The crushing riffs make their final comeback with a force. Belew's singing is at its strongest on the challenging chorus, the verse lines by contrasts sound a little generic. Solid track though.

The Power to Believe III is the second longest of the powers. It's also the heaviest, lots of minor keys haunting backdrops and trips to the south end of the musical register, all accompanied by dissonant interjections over the mellotro. It may be my least favourite power, but that is by no means an insult. Rounding out the Powers and the album as a whole is part four. Aside from the A Capella, this is the softest track. The haunting vocals make a brilliant return to close the album full circle. It is my favourite track.

The Power to Believe is an album of contrast, namely the hard rock versus the ambient. Both are good, but I think the ambient is the more interesting of the two. This album would be great anytime in King Crimson's career though it is even more the case as it comes (so far) at the very end. Were things were to end here, I think they could be very proud of their final effort. I award The Power to Believe a respectable four out of five.

R-A-N-M-A | 4/5 |

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