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(48:51, Progressive Gears)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Man Who Never Was 16:05 2. The Wheel 9:28 3. Lullaby (Interrupted) 4:53 4. After Tomorrow Comes 7:58 5. Fractured 10:27 LINEUP: Al Wynter - vocals Gary Jevon - guitars Mark Numan - keyboards, vocals Peter Priestly - bass Marcus Murray - drums
Prolusion. UK band THIS WINTER MACHINE was formed in 2016 following a planned band formation where musicians were sought, the meeting of minds proved to be fruitful and the machine was set in motion. At least that is the impression the band's concise biography gives. "The Man Who Never Was" is their debut album, and was released through UK label Progressive Gears at the start of 2017.
Analysis. When encountering the music of This Winter Machine, those of us that have been around the block a few times will at once think that this is music from England. Which it is too, of course. This is music of the kind the English prog bands have specialized in for some time, and in this case the time span is 30 odd years and the type of music is neo-progressive rock. The neo scene have produced bands of a fairly eclectic range as far as individual expressions go, but in this case we are heading straight for the heart of this universe. The music is generally light in tone and character, with ongoing piano motifs and piano details a recurring element, with floating and occasionally more expressive keyboards adding a further light toned dimension. The guitars are mainly subservient, as providers of gently wandering licks and occasional drifts into firmer, distanced and dampened riffs for depth and subtle contrast. The rhythm section alternates between loose or precise, depending on mood and intensity, while the vocals are light toned and emotionally laden. The general mood is melancholic, with undertones of sadness and mourning. These traits are explored in a most elegant and undeniably English manner throughout this album. At times with an edgier expression, mainly by providing more emphasis on and mixing the guitar up a notch, but generally staying put in landscapes those who love and treasure vintage era neo-progressive rock will love and treasure. The nuances and differences tends to be subtle, as is the case for contrasting elements, and in general this is a smooth ride. At the very end This Winter Machine also showcase that they aren't merely a one trick pony, with the harder edged, more intense approach given concluding track "Fractured". While not an overly dramatic affair, the band turn up both intensity and sophistication for this grand conclusion. Which promise well for the future of this band I dare say, and that they might well expand their boundaries even more on the planned second album. A quality production by a competent band, and one that in my book at least appears to be going places sooner rather than later.
Conclusion. This Winter Machine comes across as a band that merits a check by just about anyone with a fondness for and appreciation of classic era neo progressive rock. This is a band that know very well indeed how to go about exploring this style, and manage to do so in an intriguing manner that maintains interest and attention extremely well. Not the most expressive album around, but inviting, compelling and easy to enjoy.
Progmessor: April 29th, 2018
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