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RPWL - Beyond Man And Time CD (album) cover





3.89 | 433 ratings

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4 stars Since their inception in 1997 as a Pink Floyd cover band, German progressive rock outfit RPWL has established themselves as one of their country's finest musical exports. While I'm only mildly acquainted with their earlier releases, Beyond Man and Time alone is enough to consider them one of the most gifted modern prog bands around. With a sound that takes plenty of hints from Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, IQ, and Hogarth-era Marillion, RPWL manages to create a sound that is distinctly their own while still containing plenty of familiar and easily accessible elements. Beyond Man and Time is a very 'modern' sounding album in nearly every sense of the word, and those who wonder what a more melodic version of Porcupine Tree would sound like will definitely want to check this out. This is without a doubt one of 2012's early highlights.

Beyond Man and Time was a bit of a 'grower' for me, and it wasn't until I heard it five or six times that I was truly mesmerized. While part of this is undoubtedly due to the album's lengthy playing time (clocking in at just over 75 minutes), I think a lot has to do with RPWL's ability to disguise their strong melodic sensibilities under a cloak of spacey and melancholic atmospheres. Every song contains a melodic chorus or catchy hook, but the band manages to add an additional layer of 'depth' that many other melodic prog outfits severely lack. So although Beyond Man and Time may not be love at first sight for all listeners, it has a much higher probability of sticking with the listener than many other modern progressive rock albums.

RPWL's sound finds a nice mix between neo-prog, alternative rock, and space rock, with no aspect of the sound overshadowing the other. A strong Pink Floyd influence, especially in the guitar work, gives Beyond Man and Time a bit of a spacey atmosphere, but there's enough modern tendencies in RPWL's style to differentiate them from anything ever recorded by Pink Floyd. Porcupine Tree takes a similar musical approach, but both bands manage to sound distinctly different. I'm also reminded of Hogarth-era Marillion, especially on albums like Brave and Happiness is the Road, during the softer sections. As you can probably imagine, the music here is typically on the more melancholic and reflective side, but without ever sounding 'depressing' and such. Songs like "We Are What We Are", "Beyond Man and Time", "Somewhere in Between", and "The Noon" are absolutely beautiful; even when the band is at their most progressive in songs like "The Fisherman" and "The Ugliest Man in the Universe", a sense of beauty is always achieved in the form of unforgettable choruses. All of the songs here are exceptionally strong, and even though Beyond Man and Time is 75 minutes long, there aren't any weak spots to be found.

I have a tough time finding faults in Beyond Man and Time; the amount of sheer brilliance contained within these compositions is breathtaking, and RPWL's deep understanding of atmospheric songwriting makes this one of 2012's early highlights. This has sparked my interest in re-discovering their earlier albums, and I'd definitely recommend this as a starting point in RPWL's discography. As far as RPWL fans are concerned, I can't imagine them being anything less than blown away by what they've conjured this time around. Although I'm not quite confident in pushing the five-star button, 4.5 stars is definitely the least I can give to Beyond Man and Time. This is one of the best progressive rock albums in recent memory.

J-Man | 4/5 |


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