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Seasons Of Time - 2014 - "Closed Doors to Open Plains"

(62:02, Progressive Promotion Records)


***+
                 
TRACK LIST:

1.  An Overture in My Head 3:21
2.  Expectations I 2:39
3.  Someone 4:08
4.  Bite the Bullet 3:40
5.  Closing Doors 4:22
6.  Burning Bridges I 2:28
7.  Fuzz & Buzz 2:52
8.  A Step Ahead Behind 3:19
9.  The Station at the Border of the Mind 5:29
10. Expectations II 4:50
11. You're Not Needed Anymore 4:28
12. There Are Times 2:22
13. Ignorance 4:30
14. Expectations III 1:54
15. Burning Bridges II 1:19
16. Wide Open Plains 10:21

LINEUP:

Dirk Berger  bass, guitars; keyboards; vocals
Malte Twarloh  vocals; guitars; keyboards
Florian Wenzel  guitars 
Marco Grohn  drums 
With:
Pete Harrison  horns 
Kelly Bell  vocals 

Prolusion. The German band SEASONS OF TIME was formed back in 1993, and released their debut album "Behind the Mirror" four years later. Then this project went underground, and following a lengthy spell of apparent inactivity they reappeared in 2014 with their second album "Closed Doors to Open Plains", which was released through the German label Progressive Promotion Records.

Analysis. You can easily see and hear that this has been a fairly ambitious project for the people behind this band, and then first and foremost main member Dirk Berger presumably. It's a concept album, where the story has been divided into multiple parts, in a manner that makes comparisons to Pink Floyd's late 70's productions logical within this specific context. They have taken care to work several recurring themes and details into the album as well, and while musically relatively diverse the song cycle develops in a logical manner. As far as the music itself is concerned, we're dealing with a band that resides within the heartland of the so called neo progressive territory, and in terms of sound and expression I'd compare them to the bands of that kind that established themselves in the 1990's. Traces and shades of instrument details that have a possible origin earlier are a part of the totality though, fans of Pink Floyd will recognize some of the dampened riffs and plucked guitar details that are frequently used features, and personally I found some of the bass guitar and keyboard details to remind me ever so slightly of the veteran German band Eloy. But the most dominant features throughout are passionate, jubilant keyboard arrangements and otherwise richly textured keyboard dominated passages, and these musicians aren't strangers to combine them with darker guitar riffs to create majestic themes with a big sound. Occasionally they'll opt for more of a hard rock oriented sound with the guitars as the main driving force, and there's also room for a few instances of music of a more delicate, ballad-oriented nature here. But by and large it's the keyboard arrangements that stick to the mind. As far as the instruments and compositions in general are concerned, this is a well made creation of its kind. While none of these songs will set the world on fire, allegorically speaking, these are well worked out compositions and well performed ones as well. The ingredients for a good and enjoyable album are all present, but in this case there's unfortunately one element that doesn't manage to hold the same quality as the rest of the components: The lead vocals are just not of the quality one would expect from a recording band. Flat, lifeless, occasionally slightly out of tune, and with a fluctuating intensity levels that are troublesome when it occurs multiple times within each verse, without the lyrics giving a logical explanation for those fluctuations either. It's almost as if the vocalist is singing along to a vastly different arrangement than those the vocals have been placed on top of here, and while they are never dramatically bad as such they just don't fit in here. It's the same kind of feeling you get when you hit the bed, turn off the light and then hear there's a mosquito somewhere in the bedroom, a subtly annoying presence you're unable to ignore. Which is too bad, as it ruins what might otherwise has been a rather enjoyable album. As far as annoying details go, I would also have to include the three minutes of sampled bird noises that conclude this CD, and the brief sardonic statement that appears in the middle of this rather superfluous and subtly annoying end sequence.

Conclusion. Seasons of Time has made what I'd described as a flawed production with their second full length recording "Closed Doors to Open Plains". The music as such is rather enjoyable admittedly, but the detrimental presence of the lead vocals becomes too much of an annoying feature, at least for me. Those not as concerned with the quality of the lead vocals might find this CD to be an enjoyable affair though, then first and foremost those who enjoy neo progressive rock created in the spirit of the symphonic oriented neo bands from the early 90's.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 15, 2014
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Progressive Promotion Records
Seasons Of Time


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