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(63:55, Oskar Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Pseudo Science 3:00 2. Amathia 4:50 3. Taurus Appearance 7:28 4. Phaeton 7:29 5. Ya-Who 8:45 6. God of Wars 7:06 7. Deucalion 10:53 8. In the Shadow of Death 9:19 9. Ancient Times Reprise 5:05 LINEUP: Gert Van Engelenburg – keyboards; vocals Derk Evert Waalkens – keyboards; vocals Jos Harteveld – vocals; guitars Eddie Mulder – guitars; vocals Koen Roozen – drums Peter Stel – bass With: Bing Qin Yan – voice Stenn Salvesen – voice
Prolusion. Hailing from Holland, LEAP DAY was formed some 8 years ago, consisting of veterans from the Dutch progressive rock scene. They have consistently released a new album every other year since their debut album "Awaking the Muse" appeared in 2009. Their fourth and most recent album is "From the Days of Deucalion Chapter 2", released by the Polish label Oskar Records in 2015.
Analysis. As one would expect when encountering a band whose members have a past in many bands generally subscribed to being a part of the neo-progressive scene, Leap Day has, by and large, produced material most would place inside such a context so far in their history. Their latest album isn't an exception to that, but personally I'd say that they have upped their game just a little bit this time around. The danger of exploring this type of music is that the end result might become just a little bit too polished, a little bit too flat, a little bit too smooth, with unobtrusive music music lacking depth as the possible end result. This isn't the case with this production, thankfully, and while you can't really say this album brings anything new to the table, what it does bring is good, even when being somewhat predictable in its development. Fairly gentle compositions are the name of the game here, revolving around plucked guitar motifs, often with a driving bass-line underneath, and delicate piano motifs and soft-hovering keyboard textures fleshing out the arrangements in a beautiful but expected manner. But there's ample variation provided throughout this album as well, where tasteful organ-dominated sequences with slightly more of a Genesis-oriented expression are frequently recurring, fleshed out keyboard arrangements with guitar solo overlays with a touch of Rothery or Latimer in style are fairly common, and harder edged passages with darker toned firm guitar riff details also expand the canvas quite nicely. There's also a fine array of build-ups at play in each composition, and a band skilled at creating a tension inducing ebb and flow atmosphere to the music that helps bringing this material to life. Sparse, gentle passages and majestic ones with multi-layered keyboards and guitar solo layers combined in something of a staple in neo-progressive rock, and Leap Day creates some rather compelling varieties of this along the way. The lead vocals aren't always quite up to speed, but what may be lacking in range is balanced out by a carefully controlled emotional delivery on this occasion, where what appears as a slightly limited range is used to strengthen the emotional impact rather than coming across as a slightly detrimental feature. I get the impression that a lot of work has gone into creating that specific effect, at least to the point of this being a planned rather than accidental end result. Second to last track In the Shadow of Death features some effective orchestral details, used to very good effect, and while this is the kind of song that in a perfect world would have featured a classical symphonic orchestra to add that extra dimension to the proceedings, the presumably digital orchestration used here is handled in a well-planned and executed manner, providing the song with the added majestic impact one usually gets when adding details of such a nature to a song.
Conclusion. Leap Day presents us with a tasteful album of neo-progressive rock with the second chapter of their Deucalion album series. The album isn't one that will provide you with too many unexpected developments, but for those with a taste for late ‘80s and early ‘90s neo-progressive rock this CD should come a cross as a quality specimen of this specific orientation, and I'd suggest fans of the Fish-era Marillion to be something of a key audience for this album.
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