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A SORROW IN OUR HEARTS

US

Neo-Prog


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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Continuing the tradition of some very good Neo Progressive rock bands from Holland,US' history dates back in 1975,intially starting as a trio covering songs of many rock bands of the time,before renaming themselves to Saga,concentrating on composing original material.Saga released the rare collectors' Symphonic Rock item ''To whom it concerns'' in 1979 and disbanded a few years later.However,after years of silence,the three founding members joined each other along with guitarist Peter de Frankrijker to reform US and produce their comeback/debut ''A sorrow in our hearts'' in 2002.

STYLE: The album contains not even a trace of sorrow!This is atmosheric,pleasant and greatly arranged modern Symphonic Rock.The majority of the compositions clocks at over 9 minutes,blending beautifully acoustic passages with energetic yet melodic musicianship full of synthesizer flights,heavy organ runs and catchy guitars.I would dare to say that US sound more than British than the British!The album is dominated by a haunting symphonicism, despite the production,distorted guitars and vocals makes it sounds a bit neo.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: The whole spectrum of late-70's/early 80's symphonic movement of U.K. with compatriots EGDON HEATH being the closiest comparison along with mid-70's GENESIS,IQ and PALLAS.

PLUS: So many plus for this overlooked band,like the excellent,clear and sweet vocals,the absolutely satisfying melodies coming out of Frankrijker's guitars (Hackett influence is obvious),the amazing bass playing of Jos Wernars,the professional and grandiose keyboard passages of his brother Ernest and the romantic acoustic parts of the album. Compositionally the bands stands easily next to the big names of the prog league,with something going on all the time without never forgetting the melodic approach.Tempos and atmospheres alternate constantly.Great production as well.

MINUS: Too British sounding,making originality an unknown word for US.Parts of the album could be tracks in a late-70's GENESIS album or of any band of the new wave of British prog movement.

WILL APPEAL TO: Both neo and sympho-maniacs,as well as to listeners of melodic prog.The album covers influences from both the vintage and contemporary symphonic age.

CONCLUSION/RATING: Excellent debut,which surprised me from the first moment.US are way better than many bands of the Neo/Symph movement,who have been much more promoted.Give them a chance,possibilities of regreting it tend to zero!4 solid stars.

Report this review (#290047)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars For some reasons, my first impression of this album was it had a lot of Al Stewart vibes in it. That's during the first two songs. Then it turns more inland again through the valleys of Pallas, Pendragon and Genesis.

This is the debut album by this Dutch band. They played together since 1975 under the name Saga and took a small break before they returned with a new setup under the name Us. That's the history bit.

The music does have a lot of Al Stewart vibes in addition to the strong Pallas vibes. The songs are pretty anonymous during the first listening sessions. This album does require a lot from the listener before it's values shines through. I have really been struggling with this album. It is far too much rock and not enough symphonic in my view. The tangents are a bit anonymous in the mix too. This water here is still water and not sparkling. But despite of my grumblings, it is a good album, although it fails to make me go of the rails in joy. As a debut album, this is a good effort. The album shows great deal of talent on Passport To Magonia and that saves this album from a rather modest harvest of stars.

3 stars (barely)

Report this review (#297859)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Excellent debut albun of this Dutch band! In the Sorrow in Your Heart" the band US., already in the first track "Rollercoaster" (a musical piece with opening and main theme in the mold of PALLAS, IQ, RUSH "filled" with more calm moments in MOODY BLUES , PINK FLOYD, GENESIS vein) announces the development of a beautiful work mixing tendencies of the as different as symphonic/heavy/folk and space prog progressive music, with very good taste and mastery. The disk presents countless intrumental moments quite interesting ; for instance in the third track "Dog" where, after a introduction more in the molds of BLUE MOODY the melody enters in a musical "delirium" with guitar and keyboard "duels" accompanied by a rhythmic section where bass and drums do a type of" riff" with several complex passages (although some is repetitive) and the track is concluded by a beautiful passage more symphonic approach with a twelve-strings guitar accompaniment .Another interesting point is that the melody of the letters of many passages of the track 1 and track 2 are quite similar at least, however the instrumental accompaniment .is very different, what demonstrates the quality and versatility of the band in the arrangements. I just mention these moments, because would have that extender too much my review, however I stand out that the disk is replete of great moments and it is very difficult to detach some separately track. Therefore my rate is 5 stars!!!
Report this review (#298871)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink

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