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(50:30, Progressive Promotion Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Inside the Box 5:27 2. Scattered Shards 7:24 3. Inside Your Dreams 6:56 4. The Logic of Fear 6:49 5. Craving 5:23 6. Collateral 6:25 7. Simply Irrestistible Cruel Intentions 8:03 8. Outside the Box 4:03 LINEUP: Nils Conrad - guitars Frank Kohler - keyboards, programming, vocals Yenz - vocals, bass, pedals Tom Ronney - drums, keyboards With: Tobias Walter - clarinet Guido Galler - voice Ralf Jaschob - voice
Prolusion. German band CRYSTAL PALACE are one of the many bands that have been around long enough to merit a description as veterans. This band has been an ongoing venture for more than 25 years at this point, and in the last few years it would appear that they have started to gain more recognition as well. "Scattered Shards" is their eighth studio production, and was released through German label Progressive Promotion Records in 2018.
Analysis. I was rather surprised to see that this band had changed label this time around, as I thought they were developing quite nicely indeed after being signed to their previous label Gentle Art of Music. They were perhaps closing in a bit too much on the sound explored by the main band of that label, RPWL, but as far as complaints go that is a minor one. While Crystal Palace as of 2018 comes across as a markedly different band in many ways, they still retain a lot of that sound, at least at the heart of their compositions. Basically, neo progressive rock of the gentler and gentleman variety. Of course, when stating it in such a manner, it is because Crystal Palace have worked quite a bit with embellishments this time around. On the last few albums they have played around with electronics in a bit of a Porcupine Tree manner. On this occasion they stretch this aspect a bit further, using electronic sounds and effects quite liberally throughout. In addition, they also add some rather tasteful guitar riffs to the proceedings, both using classic riff and keyboard arrangements, hard and firm riffs backed by keys, organ and electronics as well as dark, twisted, gnarly riffs of the kind otherwise mainly used by metal bands. In essence, there's a metal bite to a lot of this album. That being said, there's also room for elegant plucked guitar solo runs from both electric and acoustic guitars, while the opening cut features keyboards, organ, clarinet and orchestration as the key elements, in a symphonic ballad kind of manner. There's a lot going on here, and Crystal Palace does come across as rather innovative here. At least in my opinion the RPWL school of neo-progressive rock is still a core foundation, but they have built some rather expressive frameworks on top of it, which gives the total experience a markedly different sound, mood and atmosphere.
Conclusion. Crystal Palace as of 2018 comes across as a band that has a good take in reinventing neo-progressive rock, mainly by way of adding liberal amounts of electronic and metal tinges to the material, and in a more flamboyant and expressive manner than on previous occasions at that, but this is also a band that doesn't shy away from including gentler touches pointing back to older musical traditions when they feel for it. Perhaps one of the most daring neo-progressive rock albums I have encountered in a while, and a production I suspect quite a few will regard as being more of a progressive metal album actually. A fine production though, and a core audience here would be those who enjoy neo-progressive rock just as much as progressive metal, at least in my opinion.
Progmessor: May 27th, 2018
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