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(52:24; Generation Prog Records)
I didn’t come across Theo’s 2015’s debut album, ‘The Game Of Ouroboros’, until five years after it release, and while it had some strong points, there were others where it felt just too commercial and bland for me. Now they are back with the second, and band leader Jim Alfredson (keyboards, lead vocals) has pulled together pretty much the same line-up with Gary Davenport (Chapman Stick, fretless bass) and Kevin DePree (drums, percussion) while guitarist Jake Reichbart here only features on two songs with Tom MacLean on the other two. Yes, this is just a four-track album, but they are all at least 10 minutes in length, with two about 15. Right from the off, this hits with way more punch, as the gentle birdsong soon gives way to keyboards which lead into sweet guitar, just in time for MacLean to throw in some djent, Alfredson throws some leads over the top, and then when the vocals start they are harsh and we are off. It soon switches into something more melodic, but this is a ride from the start with loads of dynamics and contrasts. Whereas the first album dealt with the imbalance of power, this one was hugely impacted by the rise of authoritarian regimes, including of course Trump, “Each song represents a facet of our personalities. I believe we all have the potential for good and evil and sometimes the line between holding things together and falling off the proverbial cliff is very thin,” Alfredson says. Each song is very different, and the use of multiple keyboard styles and layers often lead the way, while the impact of the fretless bass is significant. It is a varied album, which has a modern progressive feel, as Alfredson mixes clear vocals, strong melodies, and musicianship in a very pleasant crossover approach which to my ears is a clear step up from the debut. Worth investigating.
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