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(50:08, Marmaduke Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Morbid Tango 6:23 2. Cyclops 5:40 3. The Ballad of Rick James 6:21 4. Anatomy of a Beatdown 1:52 5. Recollection Epilogue 3:49 6. Always Remember the Love 5:12 7. The Crosses 5:55 8. Still Life 6:51 9. Sangfroid 5:12 10. Beyond Death's Door 4:48 11. Beyond Death's Door Reprise 3:46 LINEUP: Jeff Kollman guitars Kevin Chown bass; programming Shane Gaalaas drums; electronics
Prolusion. The US band COSMOSQUAD first appeared back in 1997 with their self-titled debut album, and for the next decade they were an active live and recording unit that issued a further two studio albums and one live album before the band seemed to take a hiatus, at least as a recording unit. One decade later they are back with "Morbid Tango", their new album, and they are already having a good go at the live circuit.
Analysis. When reading up about Cosmosquad, it would indicate that one of the challenges for the band over the years has been to have a stable bassist in their midst. Several have been involved with the band, but it would appear that new man Kevin Chow, who was actually involved with the band prior to the release of their first album as well, now holds down that position hopefully, for some amount of time. This is due to the fact that "Morbid Tango" comes across as a vital, creative and extremely well made album, and the band responsible for this production really deserves to create more music and gain the recognition for doing so too when it comes to that. Their chosen field is instrumental progressive rock, and while this is a style of music that doesn't come with massive stadiums filled with thousands of screaming fans, it is music that is treasured by a smaller and dedicated audience, and one that doesn't really get all that many high-quality albums to enjoy in the span of the year, this, obviously, being one of the exceptions. Cosmosquad is a vital and inventive band, and just the manner in which they play around with the tango on the (opening) title track is a joy to the ears and the mind as well as the heart and the soul. It is dark, but funny, ominous and menacing, but also playful and, if one may use that description for instrumental music, with a bit of wry humor too. At least that is the impression I get. Impressions are not always in the right after all, and that I associate the opening guitar notes on second track Cyclops with a select set of notes from Metallica's classic track The Thing That Should Not Be may well be another of those subjective perceptions of accidental associations. But I digress. As far as the music here is concerned, this is progressive metal seeking out jazz rock and fusion or the other way around, with a few touches of what may be Americana tossed in, some nice keyboard details here and there and even some orchestral coating on the concluding track Beyond Death's Door Reprise, quirky and sophisticated, and only rarely focusing solely either on progressive metal or jazz rock: The most common approach is to incorporate elements from both of the genres, sometimes in a bit more subtle manner than on other occasions, with a few twists and turns into other landscapes as well, be it gentle acoustic rock, classic hard rock or more plain and regular metal. All of it is a part of a greater totality however, as just about all of the songs feature at least one of the two key styles in one way or another. The songs are excellent, some are brilliant, and the mix and production elevate the total experience here too. The musicianship is stellar from all musicians, and all of them get to shine throughout the 55 minutes and a bit that the CD clocks in at. This is a vibrant production, energetic, easy to enjoy yet also challenging on multiple levels. One of those recordings that will make a somewhat jaded writer rock his foot and nod to the rhythms. That the album also features a number of dark and ominous passages and sounds is the icing of the cake for me personally. Others may well find the sleepier, relaxed jazz-rock interludes and sequences to be the same for them. There's quite a bit of variety at hand in other words, which, in my mind, indicates that this outing may well have a somewhat broader potential reach than many other albums of a similar nature.
Conclusion. This is my first encounter with the music of Cosmosquad, and as far as first encounters go, this is one that made a grand, positive impression because of its Impeccable musicianship, clever and well composed songs, intricate and quirky, without letting go of the tapping foot dimension, with an excellent mix and production to boot. A high quality production on all levels, and a CD that merits a check by anyone that tends to enjoy the meeting of minds and styles between jazz rock and progressive metal.
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