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Deluge Grander - August In The Urals CD (album) cover

AUGUST IN THE URALS

Deluge Grander

 

Symphonic Prog

4.04 | 143 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars August in the Urals is an ambitious blend of meticulously composed symphonic prog-rock and jazz fusion. Largely instrumental, Dan Britton and band bring their impressive songwriting and playing virtuosity with panache. Songs are extended and diverse, consisting of countless musical ideas that shift tempo, dynamics, and tone regularly. While in reality most of these ideas were probably stitched together in the studio, the result is a mature sound that feels organic. There is a ton of music to consume with this release, and it'll take a dedicated listener to discover them all!

First let's talk about the overall feel of August in the Urals. Throughout this album you'll hear a band recreating the "classic" prog sound better than most of the other throwback groups around today. There's something about the production that really captures a rawness that was heard frequently in the '70's. Nothing is overproduced, and there are no slick studio tricks; this really does sound the band is playing this stuff in one take and in unison, and it's very impressive. If you love to hear real musicianship in your music, you'll get an overwhelming amount of it with this album! Songs make no effort to create hooks memorable melodies; they are musical moments that move from one to the next, allowing you to take away what you will in the process.

Instrumentally the group is off the charts. They pull off ambitious compositions in what sounds like effortless proficiency. Britton's keyboards are varied and always doing something interesting. Bassist d'Anon plays very melodically, often with a fuzz distortion that gives moments of this album sound very Crimson-esque (from "Red" era). Berggren's guitars are very understated, sounding little like a typical rock player, but using restraint and enthusiasm when called for. He's at his best when playing in a classical style. Gaffney's drumming is unflappable as well, keeping up the time and melodies equally well. Though his kit sounds limited, the amount of sound and diversity he creates certainly isn't.

One of the few criticisms I have of this album's is the integration of Britton's vocals. He sings only on two tracks, and honestly, it's really difficult to tell if they're meant to be sarcastic or serious. There is a playfulness to the album that it really makes me wonder! Britton's voice is unabashedly simple, without much inflection or range. Most "normal" listeners will probably be turned off by it; for me, they drift in to the background. They aren't awful, but I'm not sure they strengthen the album. On the other hand, the lyrics are thoughtful and sensitive, so they get a pass for me.

If you're a fan of Britton's other projects, such as Birds and Buildings, you'll probably find August in the Urals very enjoyable and less intense. It's an approachable piece of symphonic prog for those who enjoy instrumentals most of all, and to be honest it's the record's slow and quite moments that I enjoyed most. That being said, while you can appreciate the artistry within, this album may not resonate with you as much as other works because so much of it's emotion comes from the subtlety of instruments. Still, a worthy purchase from one of the under appreciated artists in the prog community. Recommended!

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |

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