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Leap Day - From the Days Of Deucalion, Chapter 2 CD (album) cover

FROM THE DAYS OF DEUCALION, CHAPTER 2

Leap Day

 

Neo-Prog

3.88 | 86 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Dutch symphonic prog band Leap Day return with a second volume of their `From the Days of Deucalion' series, which began back in 2013 with `Chapter One', a gorgeous work full of deceptively strong song-writing and colourful instrumentation. The group have once again taken lyrical inspiration from Immanuel Velikovsky's baffling alternative-history book `Worlds in Collision' from 1950, a complex work that proposed that a series of natural catastrophes and cosmic disturbances, all mentioned across a range of early mythologies and religions, influenced the course of civilisation in historical times, before culminating in a new `Celestial order' that maintains to this day. That doesn't even begin to adequately explain the intricacy of the ideas of the book, but it gives the listener an idea of what Leap Day are working with here, and they present another superb symphonic work with thoughtful tunes and sumptuous instrumental passages that perfectly compliment the first volume, whilst also allowing this new one to stand on its own merits.

The short instrumental opener `Pseudo Science' teases some reprised themes from the first volume before roaring into dramatic keyboard-drenched bluster and driving guitar duelling, a nice taste of what's to come throughout the next sixty-three minutes. Vocalist Jos Harteveld instantly takes the lead on the first proper track `Amathia', his world-weary gravelly croon reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's raspiest moments, yet he never comes across as purposefully trying to emulate the Genesis singer. The piece has softly melancholic and contemplative verses that rises with majestic symphonic instrumental themes in place of a chorus, and Eddie Mulder's extended guitar solo is the first epic moment of the disc.

The entire band shines brightly on longer instrumental piece `Taurus Appearance', truly a showcase for all the musicians and the first truly standout moment of the album. In just over seven minutes, the band tear through enough symphonic themes worthy of a vinyl length side-long epic, the highlight being the improvisational skills of Peter Stel, who's fluid and upfront bass playing purrs warmly alongside the twin vintage keyboard assaults of Gert van Engelenburg and Derk Evert Waalkensage, delivering no shortage of dirty Hammond organ blasts and whirring Moog trills. Koen Roozen drums up a storm and controls the piece beautifully, guitars glide romantically one moment, grind with gutsiness the next and finally switch to Hackett-like chiming acoustic prettiness in the finale.

The final instrumental two minutes of `Phaeton' bristles with Mellotron veils and Moog spirals battling buoyant bass, the Eastern-tinged `Ya-Who' is a sophisticated ballad with a memorable inviting chorus, and `God of Wars' is a cool foot-tapping up-tempo playful rocker with an impossibly catchy chorus that will become stuck in your head for days (and the instrumental run in the middle is simply dazzling)! The ten minute `Deucalion' delivers spirited classic-era Genesis flavoured peppy Moog runs and some choice slow-burn bluesy and jazzy guitar licks in-between a beckoning and embracing chorus, triumphant and dramatic symphonic themes course through `In the Shadow of Death, and a final reprise of `Ancient Times' is a surprisingly sombre close to the disc.

Leap Day are not a progressive band that can be instantly grasped and enjoyed, instead many repeated listens are essential to grasp how good they are at what they do. Their musical intelligence, varied instrumental qualities, cleverly and subtle melodic song-writing and thoughtful vocals reveal themselves over time, and while there are many flashier and more obvious, instantly satisfying prog bands currently active, Leap Day are a sheer joy for lovers of symphonic prog rock. With `Worlds in Collision' so rich and full of interesting themes as an inspiration, the band have probably barely scratched the surface in presenting the ideas of the book, so hopefully they commence work on Chapter Three in the near future!

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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