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(48:50, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. World Is Round 1 0:34 2. No Time Inside 5:16 3. World Is Round 2 4:27 4. Cut Me Paste Me 2:48 5. Lay down Forever 5:52 6. Bored 4:20 7. So Well 4:46 8. Guru 4:54 9. New Hands 5:58 10. Poor King of Sun / Return 9:55 LINEUP: Mirek Gil guitar Konrad Wantrych keyboards Karol Wroblewski vocals Przemas Zawadzki bass Vlodi Tafel drums Satomi violin
Prolusion. The Polish outfit BELIEVE was formed back in 2005, put together by veteran composer and guitarist Mirek Gil. It has been rather active since then, with a live album and a DVD in its back catalogue in addition to a total of four studio albums, of which "World Is Round" from 2011 is the most recent. As with the bands former two studio efforts, this CD was issued by the progressive rock and metal specialist label Metal Mind Productions.
Analysis. Believe is a band that by many is referred to as playing neo-progressive rock, a stylistic expression that at least initially had a basis in symphonic art rock, but with more of an emphasis on distinct moods and strong melodies to a greater extent than instrumental virtuosity and compositional complexities. In the case of this band and this production the symphonic part of that description may well be left out almost altogether. Symphonic backdrops and the occasional keyboard-oriented flurry is still a part of Believe's repertoire, but in this case more as a dampened texture applied to flavor the arrangements with additional details rather than being anywhere a driving force for these excursions. In fact, the one aspect of this disc that stands forth as a dominating element is the lead vocals of Karol Wroblewski. He has a good voice, and with songs tailor made for his range and delivery he is the star of this show, so to speak. From dramatic impact delivery to fragile emotional workouts he's got, it all covered nice, sweet and pleasant. Underscoring his voice are the instruments, where dampened guitars and steady beats set up the foundation quite nicely, the tangents add some nice moods as previously described, while violinist Satomi gets to add in melancholic and at times haunting textures from her beloved violin. It's all very well done too, top quality production and performance, and with a certain timeless quality to it. The downside is that on this occasion the songs themselves tend to be of the nice and pleasant variety. Not bad or boring, but nothing really magical going on either. It's a pleasant listen today, and I suspect it'll be just as pleasant revisiting this one in thirty years, but no goose-bumps, no moments of pure magic, nothing that sends shivers up my spine. On a couple of occasions Believe does manage to get close. The sparingly instrumented first half of Lay down Forever is a treat, the dynamics of the strong, melodic lead vocals and the dampened initial instrumentation highly intriguing, but slightly less so as the track gradually fills out top becomes a richer textured affair. Somewhat closer to the realms of the magical sonic experience is final track Poor King of Sun / Return, with a nice raga inspired creation opening the track, followed by a part blending it with a more rock oriented theme before the song reveals itself as a melodic art rocker flirting with the initial raga touches, first and foremost by way of Satomi's sublime violin additions. This is a standout track for a number of reasons, the close to epic length of the composition and the eastern and raga flavoring so important for its overall mood that makes it a one of a kind creation on this disc.
Conclusion. Believe's fourth studio chapter "World Is Round" is a production that should cater quite nicely to the tastes of those looking for art rock of a mainstream-oriented nature, with strong melodies and dominating, high quality lead vocals as the most essential features. Symphonic backdrops and violin details does flavor the proceedings nicely, but not in a manner I think would inspire those with an interest in capital P progressive rock. Neo fans and those with a taste for sophisticated rock with an emphasis on distinct melodies would appear to be a key audience for this disc, and I would think most of those defining their core musical interests in such a manner should find it to be a satisfying experience.
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