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Harvest - Northern Wind CD (album) cover

NORTHERN WIND

Harvest

 

Neo-Prog

3.90 | 78 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Northern Wind is the third album released by Harvest, a band I have followed since their inception.

From the moment the melodic, short intro, Into The Void, enters your consciousness, to the final moments of Colours fading, the listener is in for a treat of modern progressive rock.

The first thing that hit me was the incredible leap forward the band have taken in terms of production. This album sounds grandiose, and the entire experience washes over one, in much the manner as those Northern Winds drive the waves onto the shore. Witness the dark intensity of Under The April Sky, which creates a wall of sound that reminds me of putting on Genesis circa Home By The Sea. It is moody, and a damned sight harder than anything the band have put out before, a real standout track. This then segues into an instrumental piece, Shadows Behind The Lilacs, which Messrs Gilmour, Wright, and Mason would have been proud to release.

Secondly, there is also a move in terms of song structure, length, and, yes, progressiveness. This is the sound of a band so utterly comfortable with themselves, and their abilities, and it is a pleasure to hear. There is a beautiful piano interlude midway through the first longer track, It All Becomes Clearer, which, itself leads into the most gorgeous main description by Monique and the entire band creating such a calm pastiche.

Harvest are one of two bands I have followed who unashamedly took their influences from Hogarth era Marillion, the other being Gazpacho. The latter, to these ears, have, in truth, made one too many similar albums. Demons contains nothing new whatsoever, whilst, in contrast, Harvest have developed, progressed, and created an album which stands alone. Actually, much like Marillion, they are making new sounds and experimenting as they go along. The lyrics of the title track, which expertly mixes commercial Prog and a harder, tough set of riffs, puts it very well when it talks of a New Direction and New Horizon.

The band are equally comfortable in creating calming, melodic music, as they are when they rock out, and there are plenty such moments of such contrasts throughout this album. When they rock, then the noise that is created will appeal to the most enthusiastic fan of the harder stuff. Neither, though, have they lost that clever knack of creating a catchy song, as Something's Changing tells us. This track features one of the most expressive guitar solos of 2014, by the way.

The musicianship is allowed time on this album to expand. Amela's keyboards soar, Prat's guitars sing, Munne's bass is played as a lead instrument in its own right (a pleasing trait shared with Messrs Trewavas and Squire), whilst the drums of Ojea keep it all together (I just love his work at the close of Tonight). Once again, of course, the precious and pleasing voice of Monique van Der Kolk is at the heart of it all. The dreamy Sending Signals reminds me of just why I fell in love with this voice and band in the first place. Simply beautiful, it touches and emotes, and there is a foot tapping mid-section that I know will become a massive live favourite. Hands together, everyone!

The entire album leads up to the spectacular finale that is Colours, a track weighing in at eight and a half minutes. All of the expressions, moods, themes, and expansion of the Harvest sound are brought together on this progressive masterpiece, one of the best tracks of 2014. As the sea laps against the shore, you simply appreciate the sheer beauty of what went before.

Northern Wind is an album which should, in football parlance, move Harvest from the second division of Prog to the Premiership. I rated the debut at 3.5 (rounded up to four), the second a straight four. This one, if we had such a rating, would be 4.5. I tell you this. The next one, I know, is going to blow the collective minds out of the progressive rock world.

This album is, in fact, damned close to our top rating.

If you own and enjoy albums by acts such as Marillion, Panic Room, Renaissance, Mostly Autumn, then you will find a great deal to love here, and, thus, this comes highly recommended. By the way, Harvest fully deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as these alumni of Prog.

A very strong four star rating for a fantastic album, for which I am very grateful to the band sending me a copy to review (I would have purchased it anyway!). The album is available from quality independent retailers such as Caerllysi Music and the band themselves.

lazland | 4/5 |

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