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4 stars In 1990 brothers Matt Mizenko and Todd Mizenko formed NEPENTHE together with Jamie Boruch. The bands initially name was ARS NOVA and they are playing a music that can be described as modern progressive rock or progressive pop, comparable to early GENESIS, MARILLION and YES. This could maybe be of interest even for lovers of DREAM THEATER.

In 1993 they released their first CD "Turning The Tide" under the name ARS NOVA and in 1994 they changed their name to NEPENTHE, a word that describes something capable of making one forget grief or suffering.

In 1995 they began the recording of "Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt", that was released in 1997. This is obviously a very talented group with songs containing many atmospheric mood and tempo changes, together with intricate guitars and bass. But it's not only the musicians that are great. The vocalist Jason is a very good singer too. Although this sometimes being a very intricate album the choruses are very catchy.

If you like very beautiful progressive music, this is very good and definitely worth owning. In my opinion this is one of the best albums from 1997.

The band is currently working on their new album that probably will be titled "Thistle, Thorn and Ember". They also got a new lead vocalist in Vince Ascoli who used to sing in the YES tribute band RELAYER.

Report this review (#18223)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars New Jersey-based US act Nepenthe started as Ars Nova back in 1990, led by brothers Matt Mizenko (bass) and Todd Mizenko (guitar) along with Jamie Boruch (drums).A couple of years later the line-up was expanded to a quintet with Eddie Konczal on keyboards and vocalist Keith Watlington.After they put up the CD ''"Turning the Tide" in 1994, they were renamed to Nepenthe with Jason Rosenfeld in place of Watlington and came up with the album ''Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt'' in 1996 on InEarVisions.

Nepenthe set aside any mark of adventurous and complicated textures and focus on producing atmospheric Progressive/Art Rock, much based on lyrical moments and epic musicianship.Their sound is close to compatriots CATHEDRAL (the 90's band) or a less heavy ENCHANT with careful electric guitars, lovely background piano and supporting synthesizers, sometimes with a nice symphonic sound.Reasonably enough and having a vocalist like Rosenfeld with his pure clean and sensational voice, the compositions contain plenty of vocal-based material with series of great perfomances.These are surrounded by some nice musicianship with short instrumental breaks, even with a spacey synth sound, mostly guided by down-tempo solo explosions by Todd Mizenko and the orchestral synths of Konzal.A couple of tracks have a discreet Neo Progressive sound with more up-tempo feeling and straightforward music like ''Sorrow'' and ''Brethren'' with pretty nice guitar work, good choruses, catchy grooves and light symphonic keys throughout.Some more demanding themes would really have helped the band, which ended up to build just a cult local fame around their name.

A short activity followed the album with Rosenfeld being replaced by Vince Ascoli, formerly of the Yes tribute band Relayer, and Nepenthe recording the EP ''Mercury'' in 1999 along with the cover track ''"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears for the Childlike Records album ''"Parachute Pants''.These would be sadly the last Nepenthe recordings with the band splitting up shortly after.

Do not expect a huge impact on the first listenings of this album as Nepenthe's sole release is definitely a grower with a semi-personal sound and some great atmospheres throughout.Recommended, especially to fans of Neo Prog or modern 90's US Prog along the lines of ENCHANT, TILES or CATHEDRAL.

Report this review (#640341)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 | Review Permalink

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