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Minor Giant - On The Road CD (album) cover

ON THE ROAD

Minor Giant

 

Neo-Prog

3.47 | 39 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

friso
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Minor Giant - On the Road (2014) (...not a live record)

Young guitarist Jordi Repkens used to be a regular guest on the same jam-sessions in Nijmegen, Netherlands, where I like to play myself. On such evenings his talent and natural made-to-be-a-guitar-player appearance would impress me quite a lot. Never a note out of style, smiling all along the way. I loved to hear he was progressive rock listener as well. Now years later he has teamed up with another young talent Rindert Lammert (16 years old so I've heard) who is also the main composer for this outfit.

At first spin the music directly reminds me of the sound of Knight Area - which isn't all that surprising since Gerben Klazinga (mastermind of the Knight Area) was involved in producing the album. The production suits the music, clear and modern/electronic. The band sound professional and tight. My only complaint is that the recording of the vocals could have gotten some more attention, for I know Repkens to be a very good singer on stage. Now, to be honest, I'm not a regular listener of modern symphonic progressive rock - which I can't help but regarding as old man's music. Aren't you guys a little too young for this kind of music? Of course I'm also bit involved personally with this release, so I guess these biases balance out each other.

The opening and title track 'On the road' is twelve minute all-round progressive rock exercise with multiple sections, tempo's and bombastic symphonic arrangements. I am usually a bit skeptical when I feel obliged to directly get that adventurous larger then life feel when an album has just started, but I can't help to begin to believe in it when the brilliant guitar solo's start giving me goosebumps as the track slowly progresses. The modern symphonic rock listener is accustomed to the almost poppy refrains, for me it takes a while to accept this approach - I guess I'm in it for instrumental sections.

On the second track 'Dream with your eyes wide open' the band starts of with an acoustic relaxing (almost wellness-center-like) feel with timid vocals of Repkens, who is also the lead vocalist. On this track the progression towards the heavy symphonic instrumental section feels a bit more natural to me. Rhythmic instrumental exercises are introduced and the sound-pallet is expended. The bass of Harry Hertog starts playing a more constructive role. The progressive party really takes off when Repkens intervenes with a tasty jazz-rock guitar solo, as the excitement created by the rhythm-section reaches it zenith. This songs really impresses me as it sounds less like a showoff to me and more as an artistically well written track with some depth to it.

'Lead me home' is a ballad-type track and drummer Roy Post decides early on it's time for some chimes and crescendo cymbals. The band focuses on the melodious vocals and piano-chords whilst showing it is also able to play something that by most people would be regarded as being 'a song'. A musical format which has fallen out of favor these days in modern progressive rock. The song is however with an open end as it directly fires of the next track 'Hand in hand' - a feel good up tempo, yet light, symphonic track. The keyboard solo of Lammert is typical for the neo-prog listener, but one can hear he's definitely not having a hard time to keep up with the big guys. The composition itself evolves into a slow-paced symphonic movie ending with a gentle reminder of how a vinyl sounds when its static and dirty. 'We Are strangers' gets us in a reflective mood as the album starts to enter its pre-ending phase. Drenched in melancholy the songs flows by, but that chorus really hits some of my mysterious-feeling-nerves.

The fifteen minute ending track 'The last road' starts of with that fresh feel of new hope, cracking bird eggs on a beautiful Easter morning. Happiness with a bit of melancholy. Maybe everything will turn out alright in the end! As the instrumental sections progress the guitar takes a leading role, exciting as ever. As Neil Morse and most other symphonic progressive rock bands of this age would do, we get some light sentimental sections that a fan of darker and more eclectic progressive rock (such as myself) could easily fail to appreciate properly. Luckily for me, after some minutes Minor Giant breaths some new life into the track and after some passages with keyboard domination we're heading toward the vocal ending section that evokes some Subterranea-era IQ in me. In the big finale we get some nice bombastic guitar-soloing followed by some quit symphonic afterthoughts.

Conclusion. Such a young band, so little naiveness to be found. I think 'On the Road' has turned out to be a typical genre album that will easily please all listeners of modern symphonic and neo-progressive rock. To me it sounds like it's all about shamelessly loving the symphonic progressive rock genre and making a product to please all its fans. Now whether this is a good thing is up to you. I myself will give this record the warm three-and-a-halve star rating and I'm curious how this album will be received by the other reviewers here on progarchives.

You can listen to it yourself at http://www.progstreaming.com (for the time being)

friso | 4/5 |

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