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Believe - Seven Widows CD (album) cover





4.23 | 83 ratings

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5 stars It's been a turbulent 5 years for premier Polish neo prog group BELIEVE. A return to the fold of original vocalist Tomek Rozycki was announced to replace Karol Wroblewski, while the precursor group COLLAGE was reformed, though they have yet to issue anything more than a few videos. As events unfolded, Tomek was superseded by Lukasz Ociepa, who sounds like a more tortured version of Rozycki, at times recalling his performances on the band's debut. The first fruits of the new lineup's efforts are now unveiled in the form of "Seven Widows", an anguished antonym to Rick Wakeman's "Six Wives". As a successor to the very disappointing "The Warmest Sun in Winter", which saw the band lapse into formulaic neo prog and largely eschew the delicate counterpoint of Satomi's violin, this fresh release would be an achievement if it merely retrenched the formulas of prior incarnations. While aspects of COLLAGE, early BELIEVE and even SATELLITE are all in evidence, "Seven Widows" is Mirek Gil's most coherent opus to date.

With the vocals often shrouded, we are asked to experience this work on an emotional level, and it's clear that the suffering and misery to which the protagonists are subject were not initiated at the time of widowhood, but began much earlier. Cultural mores, customs and expectations, rigid arrangements, dashed dreams, altercations, infidelities, and despair all yielding to brutal rituals, stigma, and yes, profound grief and disappointment as the widowed life unfolds. As such, musical moods alternate between cathartic wails from deep within, conveyed by voice and Gil's Gilmour and Fripp influenced leads, and abject despondency, usually imparted by the strings of Satomi. Her inventive spirit is more prominent here than ever before, including several superb keyboard workouts.

All 7 tracks exceed 8 minutes in length, in several movements, affording ample opportunities to convey the wide range of occasionally merciless shifts in disposition. Widow III is my personal favorite, with several false finishes and a miraculous faux-circus interlude by Satomi on synth, before a repeat chorus and a fade out solo by Gil. In V, Lukasz leads off in a gentle tone and cedes to Gil's sole shredding solo like a wayward offspring of guitar and helicopter. IV and VI are both owned by the morose strings that seem to offer the only thread of peace and resolution.

"Seven Widows" manages to merit masterpiece status not by uncovering new musical territories but by expanding the resume of BELIEVE to accommodate instinct over intellect, bridged to the archetype of human suffering in one of its rawest forms. This is an album to return to time and again, in grief and, indeed, in celebration.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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