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(43:37; Melodic Revolution Records)
Transport Aerian has always been the vehicle for multi-instrumentalist Hamlet, but over the years he has brought in more people so that for this album it is actually a band for the first time as opposed to Hamlet and associated guests. Rachel Bauer (additional vocals & narration) is back for her third album, and they are now joined by Umut Eldem (keyboards, organ, piano), Paul De Smet (drums) and Stefan Boeykens (guitar), while Hamlet provides vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, and programming. I was a huge fan of the last release, ‘Theriantrope’, so was looking forward to this album, but I must confess that after the first playthrough I really wasn’t sure. Part of that is due to the sheer contrast in the styles being provided within the space of 43 minutes, and there are no doubts that certain sections work better than others, but I must confess that by the time I worked through it for the fourth time I found there was a great deal on here to enjoy. It is a concept release, whose main themes are focused on the tragedy of an ordinary loving couple caught in the turbulent events of the world preparing for the war and standing on the brink of the global catastrophe. I was struck at just how strongly this is neo-prog at times, and if they have not been influenced by Credo I was would be quite surprised, yet there are also sections where they move strongly into prog metal, and allows the guitars to really shine. It is when they veer into a more electronic style, such as on “Latgalian Gothic” where my attention starts to wander, as the programming is far too much to the fore. Hamlet’s vocals don’t work as they should, and it sounds as if they are deliberately stepping away from what might be expected to create something which at times is more atonal and experimental. When they are in full flow then that is when they are at their best, creating large sounds which are modern anthems, but while I enjoy experimentation as much as the next, there are times when what they are doing really does not gel in terms of the rest of the album. The result is something which is interesting and intriguing, as opposed to essential, but if Hamlet keeps this group of musicians together I am sure they will become more organic over time.
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