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Corvus Stone - Corvus Stone CD (album) cover


Corvus Stone


Crossover Prog

3.84 | 179 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Certainly one of the more high profile albums of the year, the debut album from Corvus Stone is an extremely impressive mix of colourful instrumental workouts, charming vocal pieces and a multitude of styles all thrown in the progressive rock blender. Comprised of members from Minstrels Ghost, BunChakeze, and numerous other progressive projects, the album frequently displays the skills and imagination of a talented bunch of musicians over a sprawling 79 minute musical landscape with so many twists and turns that's it sure to leave some listeners exhausted! Plenty of vintage synths, epic guitar solos, hazy psychedelia, spacey adventures and a bridging of 70's prog excess with modern production qualities.

Focusing on the instrumental pieces first `The Curtain Rises' sounds like the introduction to a grand and sweeping proggy western movie, then `October Sad Song' floats through on a cloud of Rick Wright/`Dark Side'-styled synths/piano and extended bluesy electric guitar soloing - really lovely piece, I truly dig that bass soloing at about the 2:45 minute mark too! Crunchy stomping hard rock and quirky synth interplay on the driving and upbeat `Highway To Nowhere' that reminds me a lot of the recent Carpe Nota album - no bad thing that. Shame about the abrupt ending though, it could have just gone on and on! `I'll Leave It All Behind' is a frantic and energetic 70's Hammond/guitar run with some very positive themes and melodies.

`Horizon' is a sunny and commercial 70's sounding AOR rocker, while `Intermission/Moustaches' starts as an atmospheric acoustic piece before flying into wailing Santana-band guitar fire urgency. The terrific `Pilgrims' runs through a wide range of 70's vintage prog rock workouts along the lines of Genesis and ELP, and `Jussipussi' (ahem!) is a comical maddening psychedelic showtune/cartoon soundtrack that highlights the band's sense of humour. `After Solstice' is a grand and melodic romantic prog run in true Camel style, `Rusty Wolf Attack' a nicely placed drum solo, `Scary Movie' a wild heavy grinder with some sleazy strutting and brooding atmospherics. `The Ice King (instrumental)' has lovely floating eeriness, while the albums wraps on a lovely but brief Spanish guitar number.

As for the vocal pieces, `The Ice King' is an immersive and mysterious synth/guitar piece along the lines of Ayreon, and I loved the reflective intro to `Moron Season' with charmingly accented vocals, before it diverts into a quirky and ragged fuzzy rocker - reminds me a little of Scandinavian band Five Fifteen! `Lost and Found' is a haunting romantic prog piece in the tradition of the Alan Parsons Project that could have been developed even further, such is a quality of the vocals and melody. `You're So Wrong' reminds me a lot of Floyd's hazy `Fat Old Sun' with the gentle acoustic guitar, piano and warm humming synths. I'm not sure which member sings what, but the vocals are all superb in each of these tracks. Plenty of prog albums have been crippled by inadequate vocals, so that's certainly not the case here.

Special mention must go to the band's self titled track, `Corvus Stone'. They slow things down for a drifting and ambient intro with warm synth backgrounds before raccous ELP organ, swirling electronics and middle eastern-themed electric guitars that weave around the piece. Many parts of it are probably a better example of Ozric Tentacles inspired music than that actual band has managed in recent years (as much as I still love them). Lovely piano and violin during the somber change of direction in the finale. Other extended instrumental workouts like the shifting tempos and swirling electronics of `Iron Pillows', and the ambitious soundtrack-like `Cinema' with it's sprightly acoustic runs, shimmering synths and Old West ambience are also worthy of particular praise.

OK, so it's far too long, and the endless changes in direction and styles can be a little jarring and disorientating, but I'm pretty quick to defend this due to the sheer variety and musical talent of the band members. I should mention that although containing too many tracks, not one of these pieces is actually bad! I personally would have preferred it be entirely instrumental rather than having the odd vocal piece that comes comes out of nowhere thrown in, perhaps it might have been better released as two separate albums, one for vocal pieces and one fully instrumental? I love drifting away on a musical instrumental journey, but don't like that abruptly halted by some sudden misplaced vocals/lyrics.

But the reason I enjoy the album so much is that most of it is simply just FUN! There's a real sense of joy in the playing, and plenty of little humorous fragments worked into the arrangements. This is an album that I've constantly kept in the car and, if I'm feeling a little uninspired or flat, listening to it makes me smile and really raises my spirits! The vibrant and colourful cover artwork from Sonia Mota could not be more eye-catching, and it perfectly captures the colours of the music. Double gatefold this baby on vinyl LP now, Corvus fellas!

2012 turned out to be a another fine year for progressive rock, and this album was certainly one of the more attention grabbing releases. It sets the bar high for a debut album (the beautiful production really gives it a kick too), and it shows a band with so much potential and talent that should be very proud of what they've achieved here. So perhaps a little more cohesion and not so much quantity, and we'll be on to even more of a winner. As it is, though, `Corvus Stone' stands as a supremely enjoyable and inventive release, and makes the band one to watch for the future.

An easy four stars!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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