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(57 min, 'HS')
TRACK LIST: 1. God Lay Dead 3:05 2. Long John Brown & Little Mary Bell 5:22 3. Anyone 4:26 4. Love Is Like Whiskey 3:28 5. A Dream Within a Dream 3:47 6. The Schoolboy 7:51 7. The Tide Rises The Tide Falls 3:41 8. Ballad of the Gypsy 4:31 9. The Arrow & the Song 4:42 10. Her Eyes 3:32 11. Goodbye 5:11 12. The Day Is Done 7:57 All music: by Radloff. Produced by Radloff. LINEUP: Dirk Radloff - electric & acoustic guitars, - bass; lead & backing vocals; violin Tim Warweg - drums & percussion With Stefan Platte - trumpet; piano
Prolusion. "Straight to the Brain" is the second official release by Germany's HEARTSCORE, which is the nickname of its founder, multi-instrumentalist and composer Dirk Radloff. By the way, he is a classically trained musician, writing music with scores. The review of the project's debut CD, "Sculptures" (2003), can be read by clicking here.
Analysis. Already Heartscore's debut outing was a good effort, but with this one, the project took a major step forward - towards a more progressive sound above all. The album is marked with signs of a solid improvement in probably anything - the composition, the arrangement, the performance and the sound as such, which has become richer and more volumetric. Thanks to the wide and efficient use of overdubs and Tim Warweg's convincing drumming, it has a rich full-band sound throughout. Besides, this time out I find some difficulty to name the bands that would serve as points of comparison with regard to Heartscore's new stuff. The music shines with originality almost everywhere on the album, and there are only two exceptions from this rule, the first being insignificant. The three-voice choir parts that, at least briefly, appear on each of the twelve tracks, remind me of those in Queen, though only by the manner of their delivery, which is somewhat linked with canons of operatic singing, but not compositionally. Another exception concerns the song Love Is Like Whiskey, which is the only track here that bears certain similarities - to 10 CC. Also, this is the one song lying entirely outside the Prog zone. In contrast to the stylistic uniformity of "Sculptures", this album displays Dirk's good knowledge of various musical directions. Only half of the songs here: Long John Brown & Little Mary Bell, Anyone, The Tide Rises The Tide Falls, The Arrow & the Song, Her Eyes and Ballad of the Gypsy follow the style laid on the first album: a fruity affirmative Hard Rock with certain progressive tendencies. Radloff deftly combines Rock and Opera-like vocal arrangements, interjecting weighty choral madrigals into the dynamic instrumental acts. The guitar rocks without entering the Metal territory, and the lead vocal lines have just the right balance between melody and Rock power. Although not particularly diverse and complicated by progressive standards, the songs are very well executed and are extremely attractive. The remaining five tracks form almost half of the album's contents, all being highly eventful, with well thought-out unpredictable arrangements, vastly differing from those on the rest of the material. Dog Lay Dead, A Dream Within a Dream and Goodbye are clever Prog-Metal with elements of Folk Rock on the former and those of Techno Thrash on both of the latter. Apart from a wide-variety of the other distinct progressive features, each is abundant in odd meters, handled amazingly with ease. The absolute winners would be the longest tracks: The Schoolboy and The Day Is Done, both featuring the session piano/trumpet player Stefan Platte. Each begins with soft interaction between acoustic guitar and violin, afterwards transforming into full-fledged Symphonic Art-Rock flavored with elements of quasi Jazz-Fusion and the subtly delivered bits of folk and classical music.
Conclusion. Stylistically heterogeneous, the second Heartscore album is much stronger than its predecessor and, unlike it, gets into the progressive category, at least on the whole. In all, this is a very enjoyable effort, whose audience will not be limited by lovers of progressive Hard Rock.
VM: May 11, 2005
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