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(48:26; Gentle Art of Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Massive 5:25 2. Preaching to the Choir 6:05 3. Burning Alive 4:31 4. Line in the Sand 4:08 5. Dark Paradise 5:14 6. In Exile 4:07 7. Heading for the Stars 5:34 8. Broken Land 4:43 9. The Pulse 8:39 LINEUP: Kalle Wallner - guitars, bass, keyboards Scott Balaban - vocals Michael Christoph - drums with: Sebastian Harnack - bass Julian Kellner - guitars
Prolusion. German band BLIND EGO was formed back in 2005, and have been the ongoing solo project of Kalle Wallner (RPWL) since then. This is much more of a solo project than a regular band as such, with a line-up that have changed considerably from one album to the next. "Preaching to the Choir" is the fourth studio album to be released under the Blind Ego moniker, and is set for a February 2020 release through German label Gentle Art of Music.
Analysis. While Blind Ego started out as something of a neo-progressive rock super-group, this is many years and a few albums in the past, and with a different set of musicians involved to boot. Over the years this project have flirted with both progressive metal and hard rock, and for this 2020 release Wallner and his men have opted for more of a straight forward hard rock approach on the majority of the compositions at hand. A steady rhythm section and a firm, pumping bass-line is the engine on many of the cuts here, with guitars alternating between a more gentle presence and a harder, tighter and at times also gnarly expression to create depth, contrast and vitality. The verse and chorus sections tends to contrast each other as a general rule, with the verse passages catering for the more delicate atmospheres while the chorus sections tends to be harder, majestic and at times with a higher pace as well. Keyboards and effects appear here and there, only rarely in a dominant manner, and when used more liberally it tends to be on the compositions that have more of a progressive rock orientation. While the progressive rock content may be disputed on this production, the quality of the material isn't really up to discussion here. The use of contrasting elements is clever and effective, both in the individual arrangements as well as in the general structure of the songs. Mix and production is excellent throughout, and all the instrumentalists and vocalists deliver the goods. With perhaps a slight little extra golden star for some of Wallner's guitar work, especially when it comes to the use of subtle, delicate details to flavor certain sections as well as some fine overlays and solo runs. The only thing about this release I have a slight question mark over is why opening cut 'Massive' was chosen as the lead single, as I think 'Broken Land' would have been the better choice in that department. Then again, the former is more representative of the album as a whole, even if the latter, at least in my personal view, is the superior one in terms of engagement and possibly also overall reach.
Conclusion. Blind Ego as of 2020 may not be a purebred progressive rock band as such, with many compositions having more of a direct hard rock touch to them. Due to that, there may well be some fans of progressive rock that will choose to not investigate this album. But for those with a slightly wider taste in music that can appreciate a progressive rock band orienting themselves towards a hard rock landscape, or arguably the other way around, Blind Ego's new album "Preaching to the Choir" is one that merits an inspection. A quality album by a quality venture.
Progmessor: January 2020
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