In 1974 progressive rock was just hitting it's stride. Prog/rock pioneers like King Crimson released two albums that year: "Starless And Bible Black" and "Red"; Emerson, Lake & Palmer" release the massive triple-live album "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends ... "; Rick Wakeman departed from YES to pursue a solo career with the release of his second album "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" - and a massive World tour to follow as Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz filled Wakeman's vacated spot on the YES album "Relayer"; Rush and Kansas recorded their self-titled debut albums: Gentle Giant gave us "The Power And The Glory"; Annie Haslam and Renaissance released "Turn Of The Cards", the Chicagoland band Styx recorded their last two records for the Wooden Nickel label "Serpent Is Rising" and "Man Of Miracles" before moving on to A&M Records and the national stage; Focus gave us "Hamburger Concerto; space rockers Hawkwind released their most progressive effort to date in "Hall Of The Mountain Grill"; Ian Anderson abandoned the single track concept albums of "Thick As A Brick" and A Passion Play" returning to a collection of unrelated tunes for the Jethro Tull album "War Child"; and Peter Gabriel recorded his swan song with fellow Genesis band-mates - "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" before establishing a solo career that turned him into a Superstar in his own right.
1974 was not just a golden age in the progressive rock movement but the unlikely name adopted by a five-piece modern cross-over prog band hailing from Connecticut.
1974 is a successful regional band that has been knocking them dead in their home State and surrounding areas for a couple of years now, amassing an impressive array of awards since the band's inception at the annual Connecticut Music Award. In 2012 they were awarded "Best New Band" at the first Annual CT Music Awards. And the following year snagged both Best Rock Band and Best Overall Band.
The band is booked throughout the year along the East coast with concerts in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. And with each new CD release their reputation is growing stronger among the US progressive community. And their latest release should turn a few heads and widen that fan base exponentially.
"1974 & The Death Of The Herald" is the band's 4th release, following "The Return" (2012), "A Soldier's Tale" (2012), and "The Battle For The Lazer Fortress" (2011). All of which can be obtained from their site at Bandcamp.
"The Death Of The Herald" is a sci-fi prog rock concept album:
"An interplanetary war brews, pitting solar system against solar system. As the devastation spreads throughout the planets, The United Earthlands send up a series of satellites that surround Earth and create a protective grid around the planet. With invaders kept at bay, a government group called the Geminis develops the technology to clone humans, but the clones remain lifeless as no one is able to replicate the intricacies of the human brain. The project is scrapped. Once all solar systems weigh their growing casualties, the universe accepts a ceasefire and all planets are left to tend to their destroyed lands. So ends the The Galactic War. And so begins, "1974 & The Death Of The Herald."
The members include: Mike Forgette (vocals, guitar), Tim Moore (vocals, drums), Gary Dionne (vocals, bass), Adam Clymer (guitars) and Angela Rhea Piccoli (vocals, keyboards). The band lists modern prog influences such as Coheed and Cambria, Death Cab For Cutie, and The New Pornographers as well as some of the progressive pioneers of the 70s'. I can also detect a hint of bands like Farpoint, Bloodrock, White Witch, Doobie Brothers, Dream Theater, and a bit of progressive folk.
The music is cinematic and epic in scope, complete with a wall of crunchy guitars, exceptional vocal arrangements and harmonies, smoking keyboards, thought-provoking lyrics, and well crafted tunes. The 13 songs making up the concept album display the band's musical diversity - everything from arena rock power ballads, funk, metal, good old fashion rock and roll, and complex prog gyrations. The opening moments of the closing track "Death Of The Herald" caused my ears to perk up as I detected a familiar melody that I couldn't put my finger on before it came to me ... "Dusk"... from the Genesis "Trespass" album. But there is just enough of a variation to keep it from sounding too similar. And that only lasts about one minute before kicking into bombastic symphonic prog/metal shades of Symphony X. Screaming guitars, brilliant keyboard work, complex tempo changes, and stellar lead and backing vocals propel "Death Of The Herald" to a ethereal climax - complete with impressive instrumental fireworks and the regal majesty of a Gothic choir.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on August 19th, 2014