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(66:07; Lynx Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Homecoming 8:33 2. Stolen Time 0:15 3. Multiple Personality Disorder 3:16 4. Is It My Mind 6:55 5. Shadows Guide 1:01 6. Entrapment 10:40 7. The Alchemist 5:20 8. John Somebody 5:31 9. Noises Inside 5:59 10. Profane 3:00 11. Magic Adrift a Liquid 1:10 12. Concrete Spring 7:49 13. My Name's Twilight 6:38 LINEUP: Stawomir Jelonek - guitars Roman Siminski - bass Krzysztof Walczyk - Hammond, piano, synthesizers Arek Grybek - drums Mariusz Filosek - vocals with: Matgosia Lydka - flute Grzegorz Hankus - clarinet
Prolusion. Polish band Proage can trace it's roots back to 1985, and a then short-lived venture called Czwarty Wymiar that disbanded in 1990. Come 2008 and the band decided to have another go, and two years later they renamed themselves as Proage. Following a couple of EPs they released their debut album in 2017. "MPD" is their second full length albums, and was released by Polish label Lynx Music at the start of 2019.
Analysis. Proage is a band that I found pretty easy to categorize. Atmospheric laden moods and atmospheres combined with strong and distinct melodies is possibly the greatest strength of this band, and with keyboards and the piano providing many of the determining and dominating sounds, neo-progressive rock is the most suitable category to sort this band under. Neo-progressive rock can be many different things of course, and Proage is most certainly among the bands that explore a more expansive palette of the style. Delicate sections with flute and careful keyboards or piano in a sparse arrangement is a case here just as much as more powerful and majestic guitar and organ driven passages. Tight, firm and light constellations with swirling and surging keyboard soloing and overlays backed by gentler guitars can be found in liberal amounts, as can arrangements with a darker, more brooding and intense mood to them. Classic era neo-progressive rock from the Marillion school is just as much at home here as the tighter, harder and more dramatic variety of the style that developed in the 1990's. In addition I do note that the band have something of an affection for classic 70's music, with a couple of tracks featuring elongated passages that draw heavily upon the legacy of classic era Deep Purple, and some of the sequences where the flute is given a bit more room does give me associations towards the likes of Camel as well. The compositions as a whole are delightful affairs. Perhaps a bit naive at times in terms of using transitions and interludes, but also music made with a strong love and affection for the music created. I'm pretty sure that this is band where the greater majority of the key instrumentalists involved have a passionate interest in music similar to the one explored on this album. Either that, or these guys are professionals that give it all 100% all along, all the time. There is an elephant in this room though, and it's a big one. Founding member and vocalist Filosek is the weak link in the otherwise strong chain here, to the point of his contributions as a singer meriting a description as detrimental. He has a rather flat voice, and his delivery sounds both unskilled and untrained. Perhaps coming across as much more so than what is really the case due to a heavy accent and a diction that is on the weaker side when using the English language. Just how detrimental this aspect of the album is will be subjective of course, but for those that know that vocals is a key ingredient in terms of being able to enjoy music, parts of this album will be challenging to listen to due to this. The sheer strength of the songwriting and performance by the instrumentalists actually do manage to overcome the severe weakness in the vocals department here and there though, and the core strength of the material as a whole means that the album overall is an interesting one despite having this major flaw. I would love to come across a reworked version of the album at some point though, with a stronger lead vocalist involved.
Conclusion. Proage is a very good and well developed neo-progressive band on many levels, with strong compositions and competent musicians managing to get the best and the most out of the material they are exploring. Perhaps not innovative as such, but in general a strong band exploring quality material on a solid album. The lead vocals are a fairly major detrimental feature however, and due to that aspect of the album this is one that merits a check prior to buying it. Still, those who have a general fascination with well developed neo-progressive rock and can tolerate the lead vocals should find this album to be a really enjoyable affair.
Progmessor: October 10th 2019
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