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Athelstone - The Quiet Before The Storm CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.98 | 17 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The Quiet Before The Storm is the debut effort by Maltese trio, Athelstone, and is available as a high quality download from their Bandcamp site for "name your price".

A couple of music sites rather misleadingly describe this outfit as belonging to the progressive metal family of artists, but don't be fooled by this, for this is a truly eclectic effort, with musical moods and influences from far more than bog standard metal. Indeed, the title track, at over twenty two minutes long, veers from some intense psych rock a la Floyd's Saucerful of Secrets to Meddle era, to some lovely early Genesis type symphonic rock, before closing in a far harder vein with passages very much inspired by latter day Crimson, or even the type of music Dream Theater would be pleased to put out, featuring some pounding bass and intense riffs.

There are only three tracks on this work, but with two clocking in at over twenty minutes long, you certainly get a lot of listening here, and, in fact, I personally would have preferred to have seen things broken up a bit into slightly shorter segments. The second track, and the shortest, Jaaz runs to a little over eight minutes long, and as its name implies, this is a laid back, jazzy effort, and is pleasant listening on a sunny Spring evening without ever being overly challenging. If you are a fan of meandering, lyric-less, female vocals, then you will enjoy Dana McKeon's contribution here. This track, in fact, is a sure fire certainty for inclusion on our sister site, Jazz Music Archives, until, half way through, we get a break from the ambience into a Frippesque outburst. The onset of the saxophone backing this provides us with a glimpse of how the early seventies Crimson lineup might have sounded had they still been together.

The final track, Coming Full Circle, is the longest at over twenty three minutes duration. It has a lovely ambient feel to it at the start, with birdsong and effects, and a dreamy guitar lead backed by more jazzy rhythm, sedating the mind. As with the opener, the moods change starkly, from ambient to psych, to pure Crimson, to downright metal, but, I feel, with very little direction or purpose, almost as if the personnel have locked themselves away for a while and produced what is, in effect, an extended jam session committed to disc. It should, though, be stressed that it is all extremely well performed and also very well produced. The guitar screams at thirteen minutes in are particularly haunting.

It's just, for me, the crucial test for a mainly instrumental piece is whether it manages to tell a coherent story in the absence of lyrics, and this one, I'm afraid, fails that test quite strongly.

Three stars for this. A good album, but not one that will set the world alight, and very non-essential. Less is, I feel, sometimes more, and this band would benefit from this for future works.

lazland | 3/5 |


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