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(65:44, Artic Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Prologue / The Final Stand (incl. The Distant Light) 9:10 2. Helen 4:19 3. Battlefield (incl. The Journey) 8:26 4. Gone Forever 2:26 5. Minstrel's Tale 7:20 6. Shelter Me From the Storm 4:27 7. The Tolling Bell 7:15 8. A Sonata for Annabella 2:57 9. Walking Home 1:33 10. Euphoria 15:50 11. Onward 2:01 LINEUP: A-J Charron - vocals, guitars Gordon Howard - drums, percussion Sylvie St-Amand - vocals, keyboards Jean-Marc Bruyere - bass
Prolusion. Canadian foursome GOD INC was formed back in 2014, and appears to mainly be a band set up to explore the compositions of composer and presumed band leader A-J Charron at this point. "Minstrel's Tale" is their debut album, and was released in 2015 through Canadian label Artic Records.
Analysis. God Inc. are one of the many recent progressive rock bands that have appeared in the last few years. While the band itself is a new one for me, I did come across A-J Charron's album "Humouring Gods" a few years back, a production that I found to be a rather charming encounter. That in mind, I was rather curious as to how a progressive rock band he set up would sound. I understand that the band's stated intent is to create progressive rock with a broader general appeal. Normally that would indicate a band focusing more on melodies and harmonies, while shying away from the more technically demanding endeavors that for many listeners may come across as too challenging. In that, I rather think the band has succeeded. It seems clear to me that what the band is aiming for is to create a more appealing variety of symphonic progressive rock, or possibly neo progressive rock. Floating keyboard textures have a central place and the melodies are mainly gentle. The guitar deliver wandering plucked motifs and vintage style, psychedelic tinged guitar solo runs, while the guitar riffs a such are mainly given more of a supportive role as a darker undercurrent. They tend to add a psychedelic touch to the proceedings though, in what I'd describe as a 70's oriented sound and charming at that. Drummer Howard does feel a bit out of his place in this environment, I do miss the creativity of a drummer truly at home with the material explored, while bassist Bruyere for me comes across as the standout performer with same tasteful bass lines and a good sound to his instrument. The compositions are, buy and large, also vocals dominated, with a few token instrumentals and one epic length creation that also has a liberal run of instrumental sections. Something has gone wrong here though. The recording quality makes me think of 80's demo tapes, and the mix is also a basic one, if not primitive. Besides the music being muddy sounding, we also have songs clipped to soon, an unbalanced mix and generally a sound that is far from appealing in those departments. The vocals suffer a lot from that, and while they may or may not be be as off and flat as they comes across in many of the songs, most of those flaws could and should have been adjusted in the mix and production. I'm also unsure as to how well the musicians knew this material at the recording stage, as there are few too many instances where the arrangements becomes, in lack of other words, clumsy. There is a good, or perhaps even very good, album hidden somewhere here. But the poor recording quality and at times lacking execution in some departments doesn't manage to elevate the good parts of these compositions to a higher level. As such, I fear this is an album that will have a limited reach.
Conclusion. God Inc. have set their aim towards making accessible progressive rock, and their atmospheric laden, melodic and generally pleasant take on vintage era progressive rock, complete with recurring nods towards psychedelic rock, does have all the ingredients to be just that. But a low recording quality, mix and production on the same level and lead vocals that for me comes across as too lifeless and a bit off combines to make this an album that for me comes across as one with a limited commercial reach.
Progmessor: October 22th, 2017
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