This very talented young band from the Netherlands has released a second effort, A Dying Man’s Hymn. Its first song begins by strongly recalling King Crimson’s Red album with angular guitars rhythms played with force. “Treebird” ably moves from those Frippian notions to a more fluid Steve Hackett-esque sound. The band never lets go of their ability to play hard, utilizing many influences while maintaining their own identity.
Other influences show up on “The Campfire’s Ghost Song” where the staccato claps and the vocal with acoustic guitar in unison heavily recall Ian Anderson or Gentle Giant’s Kerry Minnear. The song begins with a slightly middle-eastern riff on electric guitar that is quite memorable. More GG references are also found on “The Breach.” Then singer Tom Luchies seems to be channeling James LaBrie from Dream Theater’s Scenes From A Memory on “Woodcutter’s Vile” occasionally. Luchies has a nice voice, my only wish is that it was a bit stronger in the mix sometimes.
Sometimes I think about Sky Architect as a jazzier Robert Fripp playing more mainstream heavy progressive music. There is gorgeous piano work on “Melody of the Air – Recapitulatio” by Rik Van Honk. On “Melody of the Air – Explicatio” there is a section where it sounds like if Yes’ Steve Howe had written Hackett’s “Horizons.” This excellent guitar work is alternated between vocalist Luchies and producer Wabe Wieringa, like on the powerfully dynamic “Hitadoma’s Return.” Although there is still the occasional Hackett or Howe influence, as in the closing title-song “A Dying Man’s Hymn,” Fripp’s jazzier nature is there too, perhaps due to separate guitarists?
This is a strong work of modern progressive rock. I would recommend it to fans of Porcupine Tree and Beardfish, but it might appeal to fans of It Bites and Dream Theater’s more AOR-ish efforts. It is reminiscent of Prog Metal, but features more melodic tendencies while still in the King Crimson vein. What I truly enjoy about A Dying Man’s Hymn is the band’s ability to constantly surprise me. They consistently move to areas unexpected, yet equally strong. The music and melodies twisting and turning throughout, yet never taking the obvious choices. Good work, guys.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on December 6th, 2011