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(65:52, ‘Fatal Fusion’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Land of the Sun 9:16 2. Cry No More 3:55 3. Promises 6:28 4. Love in the Sky 6:58 5. Shot to the Ground 5:42 6. Remember 5:12 7. Broken Man 12:36 8. Out to the Fields 15:45 LINEUP: Stig Selnes – guitars Lasse Lie – bass; vocals Audun Engebretsen – drums; vocals Erlend Engebretsen – keyboards; vocals Knut Erik Grontvedt – vocals
Prolusion. The Norwegian band FATAL FUSION was formed in 2008 by a fivesome of musicians who had plied their trade in various bands since the 1990's or thereabouts, who then got together out of a joint desire to create music that crossed multiple stylistic boundaries and also incorporated the styles and sounds of bands from the 70's and 80's they enjoy listening to. "Land of the Sun" is their debut album and was self-released towards the end of 2010.
Analysis. One of the most intriguing experiences I've had since becoming a part of the progressive rock scene as a reviewer a few years ago has been to discover just how many bands are pursuing different varieties of this type of music in my own country. Bands I've never heard of suddenly appear with a CD in my mailbox, making me just as surprised about their presence as they probably have been to see someone from their own country writing for a webzine based in Uzbekistan. Fatal Fusion is a good case in hand, a band operating out of the same town that I live in myself which was unknown to me until their CD suddenly appeared. Fatal Fusion is a band name that brings with it associations with jazz rock and probably an adventurous take on it at that. And while there is a bit of jazz rock thrown into the mix here, "Land of the Sun" is an album that ultimately seems to cater for a slightly different crowd. Some prefer to call it retro-prog: 70's-oriented in sound and style, in this case with something of an emphasis on the harder edged variety of it. There are organs and Mellotron aplenty to enjoy, backed by compact hard-rock guitar riffs and a steady rhythm section. The shorter compositions will probably be ones of least interest for art rock aficionados, tracks like Cry No More and Shot to the Ground in particular with their bluesy hard-rock foundation given a minor art-rock flourish by way of a hovering organ. But the two closing epic-length excursions and the opening semi-epic piece are a different kettle of fish entirely. All of these combine multiple stylistic expressions and ample amounts of compositional structural alterations. Dream-laden, Latin-tinged jazz rock, guitar-dominated heavy prog supplemented by Genesis-style organs, richly-layered symphonic creations with similarities to “Ocean”-era Eloy and atmospheric symphonic progressive rock sporting mournful guitar soloing and Mellotron in a manner that will make fans of Camel salivate ever so slightly, all are part of the proceedings on these: neatly and tightly woven together, complete packages of well-written, well-performed and well-produced material. Nothing innovative or adventurous as such, although that may develop in time, but a solid slice of subtly refined but accessible and melodic 70's-oriented progressive rock.
Conclusion. "Land of the Sun" is a solid package of retro-oriented progressive rock with a slight emphasis on the harder-edged variety, sporting three high-quality epic or near-epic-length creations and a handful of shorter constructions containing slightly less intriguing material. At least for art rock fans, those fond of sophisticated harder-edged blues rock will most likely reason the other way around. If you enjoy 70's-style art rock, the 35 or so minutes that those three pieces clock in at in length will make this a disc well worth investigating, and if you have a soft spot for sophisticated but varied harder-edged rock from the same era, Fatal Fusion is a band you most likely will adore. A skilled and talented act, one I hope we'll hear much more from it in future years.
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