Once again the crew at Progressive Promotions Records has released another gem from their international stable of prog artists.
Invertigo, a neo prog/metal band from the Ruhr-area of German had been composing, performing, and refining their skill-set as early as 2006 but it wasn't until 2010 that the group finally released their debut album “Next Stop Vertigo” (which was reviewed here at Prognaut by Ron). Their blending of classic 80s' neo-prog with New Millennium prog sensibilities struck a positive chord with fans of the genre and music critics alike.
Happily the span of time between their debut and sophomore effort “Veritas” wasn't as long a wait.
What's become apparent to me with the last batch of CDs I've reviewed from countries like Poland and Germany is the influence – intended or otherwise – of not only prog/metal giant Dream Theater, but the US bands Echolyn and Neal Morse-era Spock's Beard. In upcoming reviews you'll hear the name Spock's Beard and Echolyn come up more often as a point of reference for new international artists than the usual prog/rock influences … Genesis, Yes, Crimson, ELP, or Porcupine Tree.
Comparisons to both Dream Theater and Spock's Beard are immediate from the opening salvo of track one - “Darkness”. But the lead and backing vocal harmony bear a striking similarity to Brett Kull and his compatriots in Echolyn.
Comparisons have also been made to Toxic Smile, Sylvan, Marillion, Pendragon, and It Bites.
Track number four, “Dr. Ho” is the type of quirky tongue-in-cheek novelty song you might hear on a Steve Hackett album – for instance - “India Rubber Man” or “Sentimental Institution”.
“Dr. Ho” is the tale of a poor soul who awakes each morning to discover strands of hair on his pillow and tufts hair in his brush. So fueled by panic he decides to prevent further hair loss by purchasing a product hawked on a TV Infomercial by the mysterious sounding Dr. Ho. But as the lyrics of the final stanza tell us – he ends up bald as a billiard ball. The catchy song works in spite of the goofy lyrics thanks to the musical virtuosity of guitarist Jacques Moch and keyboardist Michael Kuchenbecker.
“Instead of making it grow, you've been causing me woe.
I'm no longer a beau. But I lost all my dough.
Oh no, you've become my worst foe.
You've become my worst foe Dr. Ho.”
As hard as it may be, erase those lyrics from your mind - because musically all seven tracks are a winner. But the final song is a prog/rock epic.
“The Memoirs Of A Mayfly” is a 21 minute prog opus that rockets out of the starting gate like a Hellfire missile. My initial reaction to the opening keyboard flourish brought me back to my first spin of the Pallas album “The Sentinel” (sheer delight); but just as quickly the tune transitioned through a series of melodic movements beginning with a quiet flute, piano, and guitar passage bringing to mind the Dutch band Focus and Hungarian group Solaris (I'm still enthralled). Then just as quickly begins a series of movements highlighted by complex time signatures, bombastic sonic attacks, sweeping Hammond organ chord phrasing reminiscent of Matthew Fisher and Procol Harum, Caribbean reggae rhythms, jazz fusion and a smoking sax lead from special guest Marek Arnold (by now my head is spinning but I'm digging the ride). Then just as abruptly the mood shifts for several bars and the ethereal lead vocals of Julia Gorzelanczyk sweeps us away. The tune comes to a climactic finish propelled by power chords, harmonic guitar leads, orchestral keyboard washes with faux Mellotron chorus, and soaring vocals (I'm now emotionally spend and completely satisfied – give me a cigarette).
Yep … it's that good.
Members of the group include: Sebastian Brennert (vocals/piano), Michael Kuchenbecker (keyboards), Jacques Moch (guitars), Carsten Dannert (drums/percussion) and Matthias Hommel (bass/pedals). Special guests include: Marek Arnold (saxophone), Niefs Loffler (guitar), and Julia Gorzelanczyk (vocals).
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on April 23rd, 2013