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CORVUS STONE II

Corvus Stone

Crossover Prog


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Corvus Stone Corvus Stone II album cover
4.08 | 328 ratings | 41 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Simple Life (1:59)
2. Early Morning Call (3:51)
3. Boots for Hire (8:58)
4. Sneaky Entrance in to Lisa (0:30)
5. Purple Stone (3:21)
6. A Stoned Crow Meets the Rusty Wolff Rat (7:37)
7. Lisa Has a Cigar (0:46)
8. Mr Cha Cha (4:49)
9. Dark Tower (1:48)
10. Scandinavians in Mexico (5:06)
11. Mystery Man (6:37)
12. Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla tuonnempana) (8:42)
13. Uncle Schunkle (4:37)
14. Eternal Universe (3:52)
15. Moaning Lisa (14:07)
16. Campfire (Tulen Luona) (2:17)

Total time: 79:06

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Colin Tench / guitars
- Pasi Koivu / keyboards
- Petri Lemmy Lindström / bass
- Robert Wolff / drums & percussion

With:
- Stef Flaming / vocals (3)
- Sean Filkins / lead (10,15) & backing (2) vocals
- Phil Naro / vocals (1,14)
- German Vergara / vocals (15)
- Timo Rautiainen / vocals (12,16)
- Blake Carpenter / vocals (5,9,11)
- Andres Guazzelli / vocals (5)
- Victor Tassone / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Sonia Mota

CD Melodic Revolution Records ‎- MRR CD 22017 (2014, US)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy CORVUS STONE Corvus Stone II Music


Corvus Stone IICorvus Stone II
Original recording
CD Baby 2014
Audio CD$13.70
$22.75 (used)
Corvus Stone II by Corvus Stone (2014-08-03)Corvus Stone II by Corvus Stone (2014-08-03)
Import
Audio CD$15.00
$25.00 (used)
Corvus Stone II by CD Baby (2014-01-01)Corvus Stone II by CD Baby (2014-01-01)
CD Baby (2014-01-01)
Audio CD$44.88
$49.99 (used)


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CORVUS STONE Corvus Stone II ratings distribution


4.08
(328 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
33%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(22%)
22%
Good, but non-essential (25%)
25%
Collectors/fans only (16%)
16%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

CORVUS STONE Corvus Stone II reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars As suggested by its title, 'II' is the second album by multi-national band Corvus Stone. They continue with their merry blend of various musical influences, for an explosive cocktail of colours and sounds. Drummer Robert Wolff is now an official member of the band, while vocal duties were shared between several recording artists of Nick Katona's label, Melodic Revolution Records (later shortened in MRR). Sonia Mota, the biggest David Bowie fan on earth, was involved again for the artwork, as enchanting as on the first album.

As announced in preamble of this review, this album is a festival of musical sounds, as diverse as the origin of the musicians involved. While music in general is in the field of progressive rock, it's easy to notice that the band doesn't care about labels. Progressive rock is a means to sublimate their influences rather than an end in itself. Therefore, you will hear pop (the baroque echoes of the harpsicord in the opener with beatlesque vocal harmonies, the pastoral accents of "Eternal universe"). Other popular forms of music are also represented. Let's start with blues-rock. First with the cover of Murky Red's "Boots for hire", where the virile voice is provided by none other than Murky Red's frontman, Stef Flaming, yet in a context slightly different from the original version, through its spacey keys and arabesques. Then, the blues influence is also obvious in the languid "Mystery man", with its eerie keys and reminiscences of The Beatles' "I want you (she's so heavy)" in the closing section. Rock'n'roll is there as well with the hellish "Purple stone" and a short wink to Deep Purple's "Highway star". Folk music, highlighted by the use of finnish in the lyrics ("Campfire"), has also its place in this monumental album. On the other hand, "Uncle Schunkle" with its groovy rhythms and its vintage hammond, recalls the golden age of jazz-funk. And obviously, since Corvus Stone are regarded as a progressive rock act, the instrumental "A stoned crow meets the rusty Wolff" is a piece that goes in this direction, with many rhythm changes and colourful keys. The title of the song is a pun on the drummer's name but might also be a reference to Happy The Man's humorous piece "Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest". Besides those influences, some dances are honoured throughout the record: salsa ("Scandinavians in Mexico"), cha cha cha ("Mr Cha Cha"), waltz ("Early morning call" with echoes of Stranglers' "Golden Brown"), bolero ("Camelus bactrianus"), flamenco (Colin's guitar opening to some tracks). Moreover, some neo-classical interludes intersperse the album, be it in a mozartian way ("Lisa has a cigar"), or romantic fashion ("Dark Tower"). More surprising is the pastoral symphony in four movements "Moaning Lisa" (two movements in the tradition of british songs of the elisabethan era, separated by a mouth organ-lead boiling instrumental movement, and a final waltz closing the symphony).

Besides the lack of interest for any specific label, the band deals with a lot of humour, never grotesque, always delivered with profesionalism. This is made possible thanks to a wide range of keyboard sounds and versatile guitar soloing, among other factors. In fact, keyboard sounds are very diverse, ubiquitous and tasty. While guitar gently weeps with touching short spastic licks, it can also turn aerial, fiery or even delve in a classical spanish realm as seen before. The presence of drummer Robert Wolff on all tracks is an improvement over the previous album. In fact, his play blends the elegance of Barriemore Barlow and the punch of John Bonham, and is instrumental in the support of the music's humorous and eclectic flavours. Vocals are diverse this time, as singers from several MRR acts were invited for the project. Blake Carpenter's high-pitch and sense of derision is tempered by more seriously delivered vocals from his mates of MRR, the whole adding to the versatility of the work.

Corvus Stone are a band that don't take themselves seriously, and this aspect should be taken into account when reviewing their works. Thanks to their experience in music, a great musicianship and a sense of humour, they deliver a music that is heartfelt, not dictated by any trend of the moment, and that will put a smile on your face and certainly make your day.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team
4 stars This is a much more mature and cohesive band effort than CS's debut album--with an entertaining (and often humorous!) concept entwining the collective of 16 songs. These very skilled musicians are showing a greater familiarity with each other and nice collaborative blend in their music than on their previous effort (in which many of the songs seemed contrived to give more flash and shine to individuals and to solos). The brief instrumental interludes between some of the longer songs are nice. My only complaint with this album is that when the occasional all-out rock song ("Purple Stone") or passage rears its head it takes the feel of the album, in my opinion, away from that of progressive rock and instead into a more "classic" "southern" rock zone. Once again I have to single out axeman Colin Tench: the man can play! And he seems to be a master of any style he chooses! Check out "Uncle Schunkle" to get a little taste of what I mean. It's like hearing Alvin Lee, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy all in one! An astounding listening experience.

Album highlights: "Boots for Hire" (8:58) with its excellent keyboard guitar weaves, Krautrock rhythm lines, and excellent raspy vocal (kudos Staf Flaming) (9/10); the upbeat Santana-like "Scandinavians in Mexico" (5:06) (8/10); "Camelus Bactrianus" (8:42) (9/10); the extraordinary "Eternal Universe" (3:52) (10/10); the epic "Moaning Lisa" (14:08) (which feels like a tango in disguise as a waltz and has a delightfully unpredictable uptempo instrumental midsection) (8/10), and; the album's brief intro and outro. Nice variety of male vocalists--ALL quite good! Top notch recording and mixing (much better than on CSI) Kudos, Corvus Stone! You guys are gelling so well! Next album, I expect, will be your masterpiece.

4.5 stars, rated down for lack of convincing and cohesive stylistic flow within a 'concept' album.

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I was approached by Colin Tench, asking me to listen to the new album by Corvus Stone and maybe review it on PA. Since I have had the great pleasure of giving Oceans 5, another of Tench's projects, a review I was more than happy to. I was fully aware that Corvus differed from Oceans 5 but I had no knowledge of just how this difference would manifest itself. Since I had no preconceptions to speak of I listened to the album with an open mind, not quite ready for just what lurked beneath the cover of the album.

Since I knew nothing, really, about the music inside I was amazed and impressed from the get go. The opening quartet of songs does not give the album away but is in itself an amazing set of songs. Pastoral, beautiful and gently flowing. 'Boots for hire', a cover apparently, opens up quite bluesy but changes direction quite a few times, going from blues to all out hard rock and ends on a choral, middle eastern note. Really impressive stuff, since it does not get the feeling of being forced. Rather it is very natural. The track 'Sneaky entrance to Lisa' is to me a perfect ending to this suite of music. Maybe I am only imagining it to be four parts of an epic work but I will cling to that notion, anyway.

The ZZ Top-ish 'Purple Stone' with it's Saxon overtones is quite refreshing but does not make my bells chime in the same way as the first four. It is a matter of taste, I suppose. It's good but I have not totally warmed to it. There is however a jamming section with organ and Tench's guitar which is really good. It does possess a certain refreshing quality, as I have stated, and kicks in like that wafer thin mint after a nice meal and that is certainly a good thing.

The pastoral and beauty returns for a spell with 'A stoned crow meets the Rusty Wolff Rat'. The very beautiful intro gives way to an almost avant garde fusion section which is energetic and engaging, before landing in a very spacious feeling. Tench's guitar and the keyboards feel like a cloud of sounds and sights.

There are a couple of really short tracks, like 'Dark tower' for instance, really deserving notice. They are like bridges or passages between the songs, guiding you through this bewildering palace of music. How these harmonize with everything else makes me marvel at the musicianship on display.

'Moaning Lisa'. Ah, now there's a track. Nigh on 15 minutes and built around a sense of renaissance music. It's like Henry Purcell or John Dowland going prog rock and really embraces the seemingly vast oceans of time and musical soundscapes. While one envisions the countryside manor house in the Elizabethan era in all it's glory, one is awakened by a mouth organ playing this furios solo. (In fact it reminds me of the mouth organ in 'The Wizard' by Black Sabbath. That is good, mind you.) It all finishes with a waltz. How do you pull that off? To Corvus Stone it is the most natural of things, it seems.

I will not go through every track, there's an incredible 16 of them, but worth noticing is the variation in styles without ever losing the sense of quality. There are no fillers. Everything from jazz, rock, hardrock, folk, latin (Scandinavians in Mexico), classical, medieval and contemporary share the same plate and it is a glorious plate. The way Corvus Stone approaches music, every song is treated as an entity of it's own, as is stated in the CD, is quite rare. That becomes very obvious when there's lyrics in finnish rather than english. That tom e is a strength and boldness.

The abundance of moods, genres and textures are really something to give them unashamed credit for. It is brave and visionary. Boldness in the shape of a CD. Despite the fact that there are such a mass of different genres I never feel lost or confused. It is a delicately ordered collection of songs moving through all and any territory without being forced or seem abnormal in the context of it all. It simply flows, glides and utilizes everything great about music and manages to capture the essence on top of that. It is an achievement and one that I think will grow into the conscience of others. I am also of the conviction that it will stand the test of time just perfectly.

So, all this praise and now for the final judgement. How to rate this album? I started out feeling that it obviously needed four stars and that would be quite enough but the more I listen, the more I hear and the more I discover I lean more and more towards five. And why shouldn't it get five stars? I cannot really come to any convincing reason as to why not. This is an extremely well written, well perfomed and solid album. On the strength of that notion I will award it five stars. I think they deserve it.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars The Corvus Stone travel catalog, issue number 2 is finally out featuring the fearsome foursome of madman brit guitar whiz Colin S. Tench (I added the S, so as to smell better!), the sweet Swede bassman Petri Lindstroem, his neighbour the Suomi keys holder Pasi Koivu (a hockey family dynasty) and newbie/oldie Robert "El Lobo" Wolff, master of drums and investigative drama. The cover art is once again the domain of that illustrious Mozambican diva and prog hottie Sonia Mota, who wastes little time (or paint) in producing a sexually alluring depiction that will surely harden (harden what, Thomas?) the resolve of certain puritanical Internet censors whose mission is to eradicate any hint of naughtiness. As my friend Colin would say in his best Shakespearian tone, "HA!".

The quartet have studiously surrounded themselves (at a fair distance though) with interesting mercenary vocalists such as ex-BBT and solo War & Peace man Sean Filkins, Canada's Druckfarben vocalist Phil Naro, Phoenix prog maestro Blake Carpenter (same profession as Jesus) and adding a little spice with Red Hot Chilean German Vergara (no relation to Sofia, too bad!). Also on board causing some Argie bargy is Andres Guazzelli from lovely Buenos Aires, Lappman Timo Rautiainen (sounds like a rally race car driver, wot?) and finally the fiery former firefighter Stef Flaming , he of Murky Red. New Yorker Vic Tassone 'woo-alks his doo-og' while hitting some cymbals and some odd loose bongo. Did I mention the word travelogue earlier? Yup. Global economy, globalization and now, kids, global prog, a new sub-genre is born! Humor is a factor that is often missing from the wonderfully serious world of prog and we should all be praising the very merits that Corvus Stone bring to our genre, now that Zappa is long gone yet still dishing out releases! Laughter, giggles, smiles and chuckles are the easiest of pleasures and this somewhat insane crew certainly delivers in spades. Corvus Stone is a musical three-ring circus , loaded up with clowns, acrobats, ferocious animals (that's mostly Colin, BTW), magicians, jugglers, but no bearded lady (did I mention that Sonia is very pretty?). It's all entertainment, lest we forget!

So what's on the Corvus Stone airlines menu, you may ask? The usual wide, very eclectic variety of styles that encompass the entire prog panorama. Vegetarian, kosher, vegan and halal, oops, sorry I got carried away by my own silliness. Damn music will drive me into insanity. Which is the avowed purpose of this sophomore album. Focus, Thomas, focus. Okay = Jan Akkerman, Thijs van Leer, etc?.Loud ringing sound as Koivu takes me to the penalty box. Speaking of which, many linear critics had a hard time with Corvus Stone's debut, seemingly there are still those who want an album full of songs that are just a variation of one song. Prog is a banquet of glittering cornucopia with an endless procession of delicious dishes, tasty sauces and euphoric wines, a whirlwind adventure for the hungry prog gourmet. This time, the way more seamless delivery is very much accentuated, as the album flows with a greater sense of purpose and a heightened sense of discovery. Now, shorter tracks are united in prepping up the inevitable epic piece, and this technique is repeated a few times with great success.

The 2 minute "The Simple Life" and three minute "Early Morning Call" prepare the stage for the sensational 9 minute extravaganza "Boots For Hire". There is a fresh and breezy 'good morning'- Beatles-like mood, just to gently enter the fray, a splendid hint of mindset control. This is followed by the somewhat more technical companion, featuring some crisp playing, guitars and bass particularly chatty but still very nice and pretty. This means we are now ready for the corkscrew guitar-led sweaty blues of the streetwalking "Boots for Hire" that has the audacity of evolving into a quasi-Hawkwind vocal (thinking "Magnu"), courtesy of Stef Flaming wearing Bob Calvert's WW1 pilot gear. Good old Colin thinks he's Robin Trower (which is a very lofty compliment) as he screeches, growls, purrs and pirouettes on his abused fret board. Koivu slices off some synthesizer runs that scour the cosmos, where Wolff (get it, werewolf!) pounds like a deranged and brutal madman, while Lindstroem does some dark damage on the bass guitar.

The same cynical Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll process is rebooted for the next segment, whereby the pubescent Spanish guitar lewdness of the 31 second "Sneaky Entrance in to Lisa" (she did taste somewhat tart) is subjected to an outright parody of "Highway Star" on a track defiantly titled "Purple Stone", a three minute+ pile of raucous Machine Head (Lisa, por favor!). This coming out piece only serves to introduce some dual vocals from the Arizona woodworker and the messi Argentine gazelle. Fun! The following epic is another instrumental scorcher "A Stoned Crow Meets Rusty Wolff Rat", a platform for the players to really let the genie out of the bottle and wreak havoc musically speaking, sarcastically, infusing little winks and nods throughout (Alice Cooper, Focus, Jethro Tull, and many more). Propelled by some stellar rhythmic performances from both Petri and Robert, this is killer music.

Round three, the sultry harlot returns from powdering her nose (or somewhere else) on "Lisa has a Cigar", another nice 'inter-lewd' to announce another highpoint tune, "Mr Cha-Cha"(sounds like a Yello song title) , a rollicking instrumental that gives Colin the spotlight to fry his crispy guitar like some poor Alabama chicken, fritter and grits not far behind. Koivu sizzles in the background, putting on some finnishing (sic) touches on the whole enchilada cha-cha. For the ultra- mini "Dark Tower", Lindstroem starts doing a number on his bass ( nasty wobble) , getting juiced up for the terrific samba of "Scandinavians in Mexico" which actually does sound like a prog-rock version of Swiss techno band Yello that had rather intimate relations with Carlos Santana's axe. The tremendous Sean Filkins grasps the microphone with breezy tropical gusto and delivers a whopping performance. Phil Manzanera could not have done better (another stratospheric compliment!). The piece de resistance "Mystery Man" is sung by Blake the Carpenter, done in a very traditional Blue Oyster Cult/ Spooky Tooth-like manner, loaded up with riveting organ flurries and extended sharp guitar slashes, incredibly dense and sweltering in its delivery. The lengthy "Camelus Bactrianus" really throws the listener for a loop, as Timo Rautiainen sings in his native Finish, a language that at times could be interpreted by some as an offshoot of zeuhl. Lots of lovely vowels are swirled around within a clearly Nordic prog-folk veneer, icy synths, blustering organ, biting guitar parts and binary bass/drum attack. There is a protracted opportunity to really hammer at a specific mood and keep the pressure on, relentless.

Round four debuts with the eccentric and axe-centric "Uncle Schankle" , a classic jazz-rock fusion number where the guitar and electric piano vie for the spotlight, with Colin tearing off some serious 'Al DiMeola revisits John Goodsall' licks, Wolff doing his Tony Williams imitation as Petri carves the 'basso profundo' with butcher- like precision (Fender?). Ivoryman Koivu is so enamored with the hot Latina Lisa, that he thinks he's Chick Corea! Stop staring googly-eyed at Sonia's artwork, Pasi! Second layer is in the form of "Eternal Universe", a fine prog song extolled by the suave Canadian voice of Druckfarben's Phil Naro. Thrilling accessible tune that one can actually warble to. The set-up now is ready for the 14 minute tribute to that sexual bombshell we all now know and love, "Moaning Lisa", a singularly perfect Sean Filkins English vocal, aided by second vocalist German Vergara in spanish, evoking hints of Al Stewart in its storytelling methodology, Colin's acoustic guitar paving the way in pastoral tones. The mood gets more aggressive, the bass twirling amid the dense waltzing orchestrations, some Tullisms come into passion play, mouth organ as if led by J.Geils Band harmonica player, believe it or not his name was Magic Dick! (That's enough innuendo for today, Thomas!). Sing with me, canta con migo !

This sophomore masterpiece is laid to rest as the band brings out some marshmallows and sticks them into the reverential "Campfire", a fun time was had by all, singing a Suomi-language folk song as the aurora borealis colors the Nordic skies, on some beach near Ivalo overlooking lake Inarijärvi.

What, my review is too long? That's exactly what 'mamacita' Lisa said last night when I finally found her slightly lingerie-clad entrance. I was very very pleasantly offended by this racy recording, and somewhat grizzled by it all. Now where is that cigar, she dropped?

5 Sonia Motas

Review by Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Thanks to lovely Lisa, my life will never be the same

I thought I had my life in order, that I was leading The Simple Life. Then, one day, I got an Early Morning Call, from Sonia, at the other side of the globe. She wanted to know, whether I was interested in a review copy of the new Corvus Stone album. So, I replied, what makes you think my Boots for Hire? Her reply was very simple, yet artful and musical: she send me a sample of some artwork and music, giving me a Sneaky Entrance into Lisa. So, I agreed and in a short while the CD was in the mail. I embarked in my favourite motorised vessel, the Purple Stone and sped down the highway while playing the music out loud. After a while, I stopped at a bar called A Stoned Crow Meets Rusty Wolff, where Rusty is indeed the bar tender. It's a nice, Texan style saloon that let's people be themselves. Even Lisa has a cigar there, every once in a while, in between her dates with Mr. Cha Cha, who lives in the Dark Tower. After a few drinks, some food and a good night sleep, I continued down the road, and across the border. Shortly after that, I picked up a few hitchhiking Swedes and Finns, Scandinavians in Mexico, on their way to a party. When we got there, we were received by a Mystery Man with a hump on his back - apparently suffering from a disease called Camelus Bactrianus. He welcomed us to the party, which was organised by the crazy jazz drummer Unkle Chunkle, the composer of the beautiful, philosophical masterpiece Eternal Universe. He guarded the door while I spent the night, or rather, just over 14 minutes with Moaning Lisa - rest assured, only to hear her life's story. I then accompanied her to the Campfire, where we sang songs in Finnish with all 13 Corvus Stone members until we all fell asleep.. only to be woken up by another Early Morning Call.

That is one of the many fun and musical stories I heard in Corvus Stone's 2nd album. Just like their debut, an album that contains a mix of many different musical styles, all wrapped in a progressive rock packaging - one way or another. The Simple Life for example, or Early Morning Call are material that could fit a modern release of any of the classic prog albums of the late '60s and early '70s - just imagine the two combined featuring as opening track on Days of Future Passed.

With Boots for Hire, Stoned Crow meets Rusty Wolff, Purple Stone and Mr Cha Cha, we find ourselves in guitar rock land once again, but with so many things going on that you hear something new every time you listen (although the Deep Purple sample was obvious from the start, meh). Neither of the four resembles the other, so take a few rides to really enjoy everything, would be my advice.

The drums and bass on the album are magnificent, which is pretty much laid bare in Uncle Chunkle, where the guitars play second string for a change. Master piece of the album, however, is the epic Moaning Lisa, with its two short preludes Sneaky Entrance and Lisa has a Cigar. Richie Blackmore can eat his heart out, because this is how you make Renaissance music into true progressive rock. The beginning takes us back to 17th century music, evolving into a clean 21st century electric guitar piece. Each in its own way, every track has something to add to the album, none of them is unnecessary. And all of them are created by a band that loves music as much as having fun and pulling the occasional joke. The video for Scandinavians in Mexico as well as the track itself make that very clear. A latin piece, but with so many layers of instruments that it depends completely on your mood and position relative to your speakers what you hear (or at least, that is the best way I can explain this track), a track so hot that only Mexican hot peppers still dance to it. The video for this track is a great job by Sonia Mota, who also took care of the art work for the CD and booklet, with as many things to discover as the music - and all images are real paintings, not computer images. I'm still looking for Lisa's cigar though - can't seem to find it in the booklet.

Colin Tench, as the force behind it all, shows what practising guitar since the 1980's can do, on top of the foundation laid by the bass and drums of Petri Lindström and Robert Wolff. What space is left is filled nicely by Paisi Koivu on the keyboards, with a fine list of guest musicians (mainly great singers) taking care of their part where necessary. In relation to the latter, I have to add that I admire the band for creating two consecutive albums without ever having been all in the same place at the same time.

To make this long story short: I'm a fan since the first album, now I only want to hear more.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Corvus Stone sophomore release is, like their debut, another interesting mix of the new and the old prog rock music. There are several nods to many classic groups of the 70´s. Some are obvious (the explicit citation lines of Deep Purple´s Highway Star on the also clearly titled Purple Stone), others are more subtle (Early Morning Call does have some brief instrumental parts that will remind of In The Court of The Crimson King). And still, the music here is not a copycat of any kind, balancing very well the familiar with the novelty. In fact, they sound like no one really. The use of several singers is a double edged sword: it brings variety but also can lead the group to a sensation of hearing several different bands playing on the same album. And that almost happens here, but thanks to the fluid, bluesy guitar of Colin Tench, that wraps up the whole package, this feeling is easily dispersed.

If there is a band that deserves the "crossover prog" tag more than anyone else , it may be well Corvus Stone: for they do cross over dozens of different styles and rhythms during the almost 80 minutes of music this CD brings to us. Latin percussion, classical parts, jazzy arrangements, spanish flamenco, eastern influences, fusion, blues, rock, hard, you name it and you´ll probably find it here. And yet the music is surprisingly different and never too predicable. With a superb production and a team of brilliant musicians, they prove they are also outstanding writers and arrangers. Of course it´s not exactly for everyone´s taste. Besides, It´s too much material to be heard all at once and this album is better appreciated if you take the time to listen to every track on its own. Some are better than others, but the overall feeling is of high quality and I found no real fillers.

Like the first album, Corvus Stone II is a terrific kaleidoscope of sounds that takes you to a swirling ride through several different places and moods, highs and lows, but you´ll never get bored. Compared to their first effort I found this album to be better written and arranged, an obvious evolution from their debut. A very fine band that does not have to be too zany or self indulgent to prove they are highly talented and unique.

Rating: at least four strong stars. Definitely an excellent addition t any prog rock music collection.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
5 stars Prepare to take flight with Corvus Stone.

Welcome passengers to "Corvus Stone II" airways. Your cabin crew are here to ensure you have an enjoyable flight this morning. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the cabin crew consisting of Captain Colin Tench on guitars, Pasi Koivu, the whizkid on keyboards, Petri Lemmy Lindstrom, the bass guitar aficionado, and Robert Wolff, the drummer perfectionaire. That babe on the album cover is just there for looks, she's not on board. However later you will hear about lonely Lisa who smokes and moans her head off throughout the flight.

Okay put away that album cover depicting the semi clad nubile femme fatale and pay attention. Yes, I know it features exceptional artwork by Sonia Mota, and is a perfect likeness of a Samba Latino girl, but we have some things we would like to familiarize you with. Yes, some incredible progalicious music. Even if you are a regular air traveller, familiar with Corvus Stone's previous airline, we insist you take note of the following: Before we take off on this musical journey, please ensure that your seatback is in the up- right position, your earphones adjusted, your lyric sheet set up on the tray-table, and your portable electronic devices are switched off, so that you won't be disturbed from hearing some mind blowing music. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy flight. This is not prog as we know it.

The flight will begin with some 60s psychedelic counter culture music; "The Simple Life". Yes, we know it's been done before by Spinal Tap, but it worked then and it works now! Just feast your ears on those harmonies, it's as if The Beatles jumped aboard The Monkees limousine and sold their souls to 13th Floor Elevators. What a bouncy happy way to begin the morning. Guest crewman Phil Naro has a pleasant voice and the saccharine crystalline harmonies will cleanse the froth out of your ears to prepare you for the outstanding prog to come.

You are not allowed to use mobile phones, pagers, radio receivers, transmitters, or MP3's aboard the aircraft. These devices might interfere with your hearing pleasure, and the aircraft navigation instruments. However we will pump out of the speakers some amazing music such as "Early Morning Call". You will note how the instrumental is very optimistic sounding; a happy melody seguing nicely from the previous Morning call. The lead guitar tones are wonderful. The keyboard pads have that Genesis feel; bright and upbeat throughout. There are some beautiful synth sounds and piano tinkling by Koivu.

We have reached cruising altitude at this point in the flight. There are earphones for hire to hear this awesome music and more importantly we have "Boots For Hire" with lashings of lead guitar finesse, a slow tempo reminiscent of Pink Floyd or Nektar perhaps. The dreamy melody is perfect to lull you into a dream state. Then vocals enter by guest passenger Stef Flaming, a hypnotic tune with spacey lyrics "Songbird hanging in his cage, Upside down and locked in space, freeze this moment hold my breath, inside out and oh so wet." I would have preferred he sung "lost in space" but that's my fandom coming through. Suddenly the tempo quickens like a heartbeat racing, crashing drums, relentless organ and an ever present lead guitar melting the fretboards ruthlessly. The feel is broken by Egyptian sounding melodies, back to the main tune, with soaring guitars over weird estranged synths, tripping out of the atmosphere. It ends with a heart monitor beeping then it flatlines, announcing clinically dead. That's what can happen when you fly with us. In any case, this is my most beloved song on the album; an absolute masterpiece of Space Rock Bliss!

You may need to use our facilities mid flight, the bathrooms are to the rear but that does not mean you are permitted a "Sneaky Entrance In To Lisa". In this case the music actually diverts into a Flamenco guitar solo, just to remind us we are flying over Spain.

Your carry-on baggage must be stowed underneath the seat in front of you, or in the overhead bins, especially if you have on board a "Purple Stone". As we hear a V8 roar its engines and screech skidmarks up the road, a heavy rhythm crashes through. The vocals of guests Blake Carpenter and Andres Guazzelli are well executed. It features some homages to Deep Purple, you might recognise certain Purpleish moments, notably Highway Star and Burn. The organ has a familiar Jon Lord sound, so no complaints from me. It is a healthy dose of Classic Rock with some odd moments, and lyrics "everythings going wrong, looks like I don't have long, right there in front of me, running my own grand prix, my future is getting short, maybe I should abort." The lyrics are a rev head's delight, harking back to the good old classic metal Speed King or Wheels of Steel themes.

If the cabin pressure in this aircraft fails, oxygen masks in the cabin and toilets will drop automatically from the ceiling. Please remain in your seat, and listen to this insane music, "A Stoned crow Meets the Rusty Wolff Rat". How did they get on board? This may disturb some with its shimmering Hammond sound, choppy guitar riffs and soulful lead guitar playing, but its all in the name of Prog. The percussion keeps perfect meter along with the bass. The music drifts along an organ motif, returning to it and then is allowed to break free into fast paced jamming. The shades of tension and release are augmented by a unified approach to the music, where the instruments are given a chance to shine. The ending is divine with the synth foundation and spacey lead guitar embellishments.

Please note that this flight is non-smoking. Smoking is not allowed at any time, anywhere in the cabin, by anyone? unless you are having a cigar with Lisa. In this case you will have the pleasure of hearing "Lisa has a Cigar" and she is welcome to it. This excursion into piano and sparkly synths may not lift your skirts up, gentlemen but it certainly is a nice transition from the chaos.

Should the aircraft have to make an emergency landing, a command "Brace for impact, Brace for impact" will be announced then "Heads down, Heads down" shouted by "Mr Cha Cha". This adopts a nice formula of glorious glam seventies Doppler effects and chugging guitar riffs. Another instrumental with some awesome lead playing, reminding me of James Bond melody at one point and then breaking into Steve Hackett like arpeggios. The time signature switches to a steady four to the floor beat. The synths build into jagged shapes, then the rhythm locks into a hand clapping beat. There are some Cha Cha rhythms, and elegant Hammond organ sounds. Then it changes to a half time feel, jazz fusion approach, the lead guitar doesn't stop, pumping out melodious tones as the synths twinkle madly away. This is sensational music by any standards. At this point every track has been diverse and equally delightful.

We are heading into some turbulence as we approach the "Dark Tower" with very light weight guitar and tinkling ivories. The bass is free form jazz, and then Blake Carpenter returns to sing about the tower; "it is ominous, and oh so frightful, it is in its final hour." A dark sound ends the short song and then makes way for the runway; the piece de resistance.

Prepare yourself passengers as we head over Mexico for a fuel stop. While there, we will be entertained by guest artist, Sean Filkins, hot off The Big Big Train, who will perform "Scandinavians in Mexico". The Samba rhythms are a feature, the rototoms resound, there is a Santana like guitar sound, and a hint that the Black Magic Woman is lurking nearby. We hear the harmonised mantra "Aya-huasca, Aya-a-ahhhh huasca", repeated as a chant. The Latino dancers and Mexican chili performers crank it up with this foot tapping oddity; a totally diverse approach.

Should an evacuation be necessary, we ask you remove all high-heeled shoes, leave all your luggage behind, yes even that sensuous album cover, and move as quick as possible to the nearest exit, just follow "Mystery Man". Jump onto the escape slide, and hear some gorgeous acoustic Spanish style guitar and Blake Carpenter will serenade about the mysterious individual "the little man in the shadows, daily there he takes his repose, never once giving a glance, seemingly he is in a trance." The music is again like Deep Purple especially with all the Hammond organ reverberations, over a heavy slow guitar. The instrumental break maintains the steady plodding pace, as sensational lead guitar croons mournfully over the chopped up organ and ascending distorted guitar chord progression.

"Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla Tuonnempana)" is heavy and dramatic with timpani rolls, and a slow march to the gallows. The song is sung by Timo Rautiainen entirely in Finnish. We're deep in foreign territory here with some off kilter, wah wah guitar, a driving beat and swirling synths, as the pace picks up. Due to the non English lyrics, and unusual time changes, this is strange beyond the Knights Who Say Ni, and even odder than the Great Prophet Zarquan. It is such a diversion from previous tracks that it jars the ears. The guitars emit phased grunts howling in the netherverse and a quivering keyboard is heard wavering in the wind.

If you look out your side window you might catch a glimpse of "Uncle Schunkle" on the wing trying to rip out the engine, but we assure you it's all just an illusion. The music really moves into another realm. This instrumental is driven by a tail shaft full of spacey keyboards, and an omnipresent lead guitar trading off beautifully. The percussion is sporadic and it is a genuine pleasure to hear real drumming with passion here. The band really take off into full flight with this instrumental. It is power packed with keyboard and guitar soloing, competing wildly against each other like a duel for dominance. The bass guitar is fabulous moving up and down the scale, but I am really in love with that squelching synth. This is a Tardis full of proud prog, replete with spacey psychedelic grandeur.

Passengers, take note, should a landing on water happen, there is a life jacket stored underneath the seat. Inflate by pulling down the red tag, and yell rather loudly "inflate you stupid sod!", and blow the whistle to alert the "Eternal Universe" players. The dreamy relaxing song will lull you into a calm state of existence. The harmonies are gorgeous, and there is a pleasant vocal performance by Phil Naro. The lyrics are tranquillising "I see the world as a grain of sand, hold it in my hand." It is a nice diversion after the hyper weirdness previous.

Now place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally while securing the elastic band around your head, that is to ensure maximum benefit is gained while hearing Tench on the acoustic guitar. We are now at cruising altitude and about to hear the longest song on offer, "Moaning Lisa". Sean Filkins sings of lost, lonely Lisa "betrayed by fate and love, lost to the sea, now she is free, lonely, lonely Lisa." The song penned by Mota, feels like a sea shanty in places, with lilting flute synth, and acoustic vibrations. The ballad travels along pleasantly with melancholy vocals and acoustics, til the instrumental shakes it up. The time sig changes to a swing leading to an extended coda. The new section is joined by German Vergara, with yet another language to sweeten the sound. That is so catchy; that confounded melody haunted me long after the flight.

We hope you have enjoyed the in-flight entertainment. We are now preparing to land. The bar is closed and we have one last song to titillate your eardrums. "Campfire (Tulen Luona)" takes us to Finland again with the voice of Timo, and some acoustics. It ends the flight with a feeling that the journey is over and things can now return to normal. The Prog Odyssey has ended. Thankyou for flying "Corvus Stone II" airways, we hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as we have. Please ensure you revisit this amazing airlines at the earliest opportunity.

This is an album you can play at anytime for any reason for anyone, and deserves full recommendation in the prog community. It is a genuine surprise package, full of very diverse music and innovation. I have visited it at home relaxing, in the car on a long journey, and after work at home to wind down. It is an album jammed with inventive musical ideas that consistently surprise and soothe the senses. There is space rock, psychedelic 60s, jazz fusion, Heavy Prog, Celtic folk, Symphonic, Samba, Mexican rhythms, and acoustic ballads mixed in this Prog potpourri. One of the albums of the year and an absolute pleasure to listen to; jump aboard "Corvus Stone II".

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When Corvus Stone appeared in 2012 I summed up their first album as "an impeccable demo package", promising good things to come. The challenge here, in the band's second studio collection, was to meet those expectations and overcome the sophomore jinx, which usually requires twice the effort and typically yields half the results.

First the good news: the new album easily surpasses the achievement of the band's debut. Even better, it somehow does so with a surprising economy of apparent effort, totally at odds with the albums epic 79-minute length. "Keep it simple, keep it fun / keep it good for everyone" is the key lyric here, from the opening "Early Morning Call": a clear statement of purpose. But it's the next line ("keep it going on...") that sums up the generous cup-runneth-over creativity of Corvus Stone.

It couldn't have been as easy as it they make it sound, with collaborators scattered over four continents, all working without the benefit of any shared studio time. The primary quartet includes an Englishman, an American, and two Finns; the small army of guest players hails from Northern Europe, Latin America, New and Old England, and my own backyard on the Niagara Frontier. Even the attention-grabbing CD cover art is imported, from a southern African artist (Sonia Mota, no stranger to these Archives) whose eye for gaudy Prog overkill rivals the early MARILLION LP illustrations of Mark Wilkinson.

The downside to being spread so thin around the globe (and employing a half-dozen very different lead vocalists, singing in two languages) is a certain post-modern lack of genuine group identity. Can a set of musicians from at least three of the world's four corners still be called a band if they don't actually perform together in the same room? The jury is out, but on their second album Corvus Stone makes a convincing case for this brave new paradigm. And it's the music itself providing the winning argument.

What I appreciate most about the Stone is their ability to absorb so many influences without sounding at all derivative. In other words: their music will remind you of more than one classic Prog role model, without sounding like any of them. The song "Boots for Hire" recalls the 1975 HAWKWIND rocker "Magnu", played at a more austere 16 rpm (that's turntable vernacular, for all you non-analog tykes). The mini-epic "Moaning Lisa" (note the tongue-in-cheek Da Vinci code in the title) combines the delicacy of early GENESIS with a not incompatible gypsy flamenco vibe, complete with castanets.

And the band's own web site, while describing the lively instrumental "Scandinavians in Mexico", admits (with an obvious smile) that ace guitarist Colin Tench "can't do a Santana impression, but he can do an impression of someone who CAN do a Santana impression". What they don't mention is the musical DNA he also shares with a fraternity of kindred guitar luminaries, from JEFF BECK to ROINE STOLT.

Discerning ears will be able to spot the isolated track-by-track assembly of each song, in "Purple Stone" and elsewhere somewhat resembling a Picasso collage of slightly mismatched elements...not an unpleasant experience, to fans of FRANK ZAPPA (another Corvus Stone antecedent). Thankfully the otherwise seamless editing was aided by a truly democratic approach to composition, allowing no room for showboat solos or limelight hogging, and (finally!) with a full-time, flesh-and-blood drummer holding the far-flung project together.

Skeptical Progheads might also blink twice at the abundance of immediate five-star raves for the album here, a courtesy usually reserved for time-honored classics with a little historical perspective behind them. The Stone might get there yet, but I prefer to regard their second effort as another confident step upward on a weird but well-balanced career ladder, with even higher rungs to someday reach for (...like a live performance? We can only hope).

Of course a marketing expert would say you can't build career momentum by releasing consecutive 80-minute albums of totally original music in an age of low attention spans and disposable entertainment. It was a risky move, but what would Progressive Rock be without risk? Keep in mind the movement in its early '70s infancy began as an ideal, not a fashion. Times have obviously changed, but Corvus Stone insists on maintaining that same home-grown, handmade, seat-of-the-pants spirit of musical adventure, with humor and enthusiasm.

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Corvus Stone a multi national band with talented musicians formed around 2012 and releasing so far 2 albums. The newest is named simply II issued this year 2014. Responsable for what is to be heared here is Koivu the keybordist who managing to come with a pleasent album, constructed on same coordonates as previous album and with same attitude. There are many type of prog elements here, from crossover prog to spacey moments not far from Hawkwind fame special on piece Boots of hire, neo prog partscombined with more symphonic ones, but the result is quite ok, even far from great, at least to my ears. The re are some good pieces as one I've mentioned Boots of hire , instrumental "candinavians in Mexico and few more. Aswell there are some invited guests as Blake Carpenter from The Minstr's Ghost, Sean Filkins,Phil Naro from Druckfarben , German Vergara from Aisles or Victor Tassone from United Past. All in all a well rounded album, good in many parts, specially the first half of the album is better then the second for sure, but as I said is far from masterpiece status as many pretend to be, really. 3 stars , maybe rounded to 3.5 in places. Intresting art work.

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars To give a better idea of what is Corvus Stone's music here, i would have to do a track by track review, because the songs are very different from one to the other and covers a lot of musical style. The use of the Hammond organ and the classic rock style of songs with some psychedelic tones give a retro sound feeling to the music, but the way the band succeed to shape every song with some nice melodies and many progressive twists is very unique. The instrumentation is rich and the numerous vocals style in every songs add something new to the whole music. "Scandinavians in Mexico" show some exotic influence taken from Santana's book. "Purple Stone" show a more straightforward classic rock influence with a 5 seconds copy of song from some artist you'll recognize. There is some instrumental and interlude songs that reveals some nice atmosphere like the classical arrangement with the flute and the piano in the song "Lisa has a Cigar". And some of those funny or peculiar title songs make me think that this band has a sense of humor, or want to tell the world that you can't label their music. The longest track with Sean Filkins "Moaning Lisa" would make you think instantly to the music of Big Big Train, which is not a bad thing. I really enjoy the crescendo build in the song "Mystery Man" that start with in a light symphonic mood and switch to a heavier and darker ending. I am sure many will enjoy this album, because it covers a lot of influences from the past into something new that only this band can do.
Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Corvus Stone - II (2014)

This album has made quite a name in a short time on progarchives, so I wass excited to have a chance to listen to it. The music of Corvus Stone was offered to me for free with a kind request to write a review on PA.

This is quite obviously a band with talented musicians with a great love for the progressive rock genre. Most of the material is instrumental and loaded with solo's of guitar and keyboard. The band has a down to earth sound, keeping the symphonic elements in check. There's a list of guest vocalists, but all sound dull and uninspired to my ears. On Corvus Stone's best moments the compositions remind me a bit of the better work of neoprog group Arena (a personal favorite), exciting symphonic landscapes with heavy rockguitars.

Yet there is a key difference; the composions of Corvus Stone are never more then the sum of the parts. I can't find one single moment of musical storytelling or a shot at song- or epicbuilding. Perhaps the song 'Eternal Earth' counts as the only exception. So many great musical ideas, but I can't find a vision or a concept whatsoever. Furthermore, on many moments the almost chaotich musical landscapes are made up of elements that don't always fit together that well stylisticly and melodicly. Sometimes parts of compositions sound like the product of computerised randomness. The question just keeps arising, what are these guys trying to achieve? What does it mean?

Conclusion. There isn't a single track I really liked on this album, which is confusing because there's a lot to like about this second Corvus Stone record. I guess this band could make a masterpiece in the future if they would find an extra bandmember with a musical vision and oversight. This second record is however pretty meaningless, so I'll give it two stars.

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I was asked recently to listen to this album and to write a review about it.

It is hard for me to try to place this band in only one musical style category, because this album shows them playing several musical styles: some Hard Rock with some influences from DEEP PURPLE; some Jazz-Rock music influences; some Latin Rock music influences; some Symphonic Prog music influences, particularly from YES; some World Music influences (Arabian, Flamenco, English and Spanish Folk music). All played with energy almost all the time and with good arrangements. The band is a multi-national quartet which consists of Colin Tench (guitars ), Petri Lemmy Lindström (bass), Pasi Koivu (keyboards) and Robert Wolff (drums & percussion), assisted by several lead singers and one percussionist. They also have the contributions from Sonia Mota for the album artwork and for the making of some videos for their songs. All the musical influences make an interesting musical mixture for my taste. Unfortunately, I could not understand the lyrics of the songs because, not being a native English language speaker, I could not listen to them very clearly in the album, and also I realized that some of the lyrics were not sung in the English language, and being a digital download, unfortunately I could not find the lyrics in the web. There is the name "Lisa" listed in three of the titles of the songs, but I could not understand who the "Lisa" character is and if there is a lyrical and musical concept connection between the songs of the album and even with the cover artwork. Anyway, all the musicians who are members of this band and the other contributors to this album are very good. The recording and mixing are very good too, and I also like the cover artwork. The most accessible songs for my taste are "Scandinavians in Mexico" (a Latin Music song which sounds to me a bit influenced by SANTANA and by the song "Mozambique" from TRAFFIC`s "Far From Home " album) which also has a funny video made by Sonia Mota that is available in youtube; "Eternal Universe" (with good musical atmospheres), and "Moaning Lisa".

This is an interesting album from CORVUS STONE, very well played and produced. Maybe a bit long in length (with a duration of almost 80 minutes, the equivalent to the duration of a double LP album), but very good anyway.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars I don't know about the rest of you prog fans out there, but I have learned to look forward to every new album that features Colin Tench (and there are quite a few of them each year). His guitar never ceases to delight me. It's not that he dazzles with speed and technicality, although he does seem to be a master at many styles, it's that he always seems to know the right notes to play to make me want to listen more. And with Corvus Stone, he has found a band of equals in that respect.

Corvus Stone has managed to improve upon their wonderful debut album by just playing what they like. And what they like is sometimes psychedelic, or smoky art-blues, or Santana-ish jams, fusion, or even a prog-folk epic. There is not a bad track to be found here.

Each track intrigues as full-band arrangements, but also remains interesting when, as I often do, one listens to each instrument individually. I particularly enjoy Tench's David-Torn-like string pops and bends, and his and keyboardist Pasi Koivu's work on the track "Mystery Man". Petri Lemmy Lindström and Robert Wolff's intentionally stumbling rhythm on "Uncle Schunkle" gives me eargasms, and the aforementioned prog-folk epic, "Moaning Lisa" should not be missed.

I honestly cannot put into words just how much this album has lifted my spirits (at a time when I really needed it. Many thanks to the band and all the guest artists for this one.

And on a side note, Sonia Mota's ("Kati" here at Progarchives.com) cover is a sexy masterpiece, a perfect adornment for this album.

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Corvus Stone II. What is one to make of this lot, eh? If the Prog Archives reviews are to be believed, they have come up with a true masterpiece, one of the finest Prog albums ever to be set to record. Actually, some of the rather more obvious fan and family tributes made me swear not to have any part of the whole business, until guitarist Colin Tench (someone who I admire a great deal, and would love to meet and have a drink with) contacted me, and kindly posted a cd for me to review.

So, a masterpiece? No, but it is a mighty fine piece of work, which deserves to sit up there with the Premier League of modern Progressive Rock artists, and that is no small praise at all.

The album is such a massive contrast of styles that it is really difficult to pin it all down, and that, of course, is clearly the point. It is eclectic wrought fine. We begin with lovely late 60's type psych/pop on openers The Simple Life and the sunny Early Morning Call, two of the brightest and most cheerful album openers in many a year.

What to make of Boots For Hire? Some delicious guitar work, especially, with lyrics from a dystopian screenplay chucked in for good measure. Here, the music moves in a huge contrast from the opening sunshine. Far darker, and heavier, in tone and scope. It's good (very good, actually, especially for fans of classic rock), but the Iistener is somewhat unprepared for such a contrast.

So, now, your reviewer is at a similar stage to when he was preparing to write his review about the debut album. Do you (politely) mention, and imply criticism of, the lack of "consistency", or style, or do you just go with the flow, and merely accept what this band are, and are about, and sit back, listen, and enjoy, soaking it all in. I am glad to say I have opted for the latter course this time around.

Because, when this lot are good, they are very good. Take the closing two tracks, which are the stunning Moaning Lisa (featuring a true star on vocals in Sean Filkins, and a marvellous South American, German Vergara, who should be), the longest track here, and a true prog fan's delight, and the much needed come down track, Campfire. They are two of the finest pieces of music I have heard all year and are, in truth, worth the admission price alone. Pure excellence in modern prog. For good measure, we also have a huge nod to classic Prog, flutes an' all, in Eternal Universe.

Blake Carpenter, one of my favourite modern era artists, features strongly on vocals (maintaining a positive link with the Corvus Stone regulars, and strong enough to make me look forward more to the planned Minstrel's Ghost album), although I could well have done without the silly Purple Stone, a Deep Purple "tribute", even including original lyrics, which is just, to my mind, "different" for the sake of being different. It certainly adds nothing to some of the beauty which surrounds it. Contrast this with the far too short Dark Tower, which is thoughtful, intelligent, and could have been an album story in itself. I just love Blake's contribution on this, and his final effort, the lovely prog ballad, Mystery Man.

We have some almost stoner meanderings in the heavily classic rock influenced A Stoned Crow Meets The Rusty Wolff Rat (no contest, chaps, song title of the decade is yours), Lisa Has a Cigar, and Mr Cha Cha (just love those Jon Lord Hammond keys on the latter). The meanderings do, though, grate somewhat on the disappointing chants of Scandinavians In Mexico.

And, as if all of the above were not enough for you all to be getting on with, we have a fantastic Finnish contribution on vocals from Timo Rautianen, in his native language. I don't understand a word of Camelus Bactrianus, but I sure do appreciate the darkness contained within. Did I say darkness? It could, I feel, be easily compared with the inside of a duck's anus, but, by God, it is damned good stuff with its rhythmic drums, swirling keys, and brooding atmosphere.

So, pop psych, to classic rock, to stoner meanderings, to classic Prog rock. Confused? Well, you will be, but don't worry about it. This is a band for whom it is impossible to categorise, and I finally get it. They don't want to be categorised. They just want to play, go where the music takes them, and invite you, the listener, to share a fun, if strange, journey. Join them. You will, I promise, enjoy.

Lastly, here, a mention for the lovely Sonia Mota's (Kati of this parish's forum) staggering artwork, which is standout incredible. Hugs, indeed!

Four stars. An excellent album which comes highly recommended.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The second album from this multi-national/studio only band is more consistent than the debut. However, the highs here are not as high as on the previous album. At the same time the lows here are not as low either. A lot of this album sure sounds like the work of the crew who came up with the last album, but there are also some new ideas here which are welcome. Like the debut this is made up of a lot of instrumental material. There seems to be a bit more vocals this time due to all the guest vocalists (the most well-known of the bunch probably being Big Big Train's Sean Filkins).

"The Simple Life" is a great opener. A short symphonic poppy tune. "Early Morning Call" is an easy-going bluesy symphonic rock instrumental. "Boots For Hire" is a very bluesy, almost Floydian track. Gets 'darker' and heavier sounding after the vocals arrive. After an almost jam like section gets more spacey sounding. "Purple Stone" is an obvious homage to Deep Purple. Includes a lyric from "Highway Star" (the same way a song from the debut briefly flirted with the riff to "Smoke On The Water"). "A Stoned Crow Meets the Rusty Wolff Rat" opens with some Spanish/classical acoustic guitar playing with symphonic keyboard backing. Then it goes into bluesy symph prog territory.

"Mr. Cha Cha" has a great rhythm section backed by soaring and emotional guitar playing. Nice symphonic keyboard work as well. Some good unison playing in spots. One of the highlights for sure. Another highlight is "Scandinavians In Mexico" (which has a cute animated video for it). Somewhat Santana-esque (especially the guitar soloing), the repeated harmony vocals (in Spanish I'm assuming) are catchy. Nice playful synth work. Interesting drumming/percussion at times as well. "Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla tuonnempana)" is sung in Finnish. When I first heard the beginning of this song I was reminded of Boards Of Canada; it sounded so electronic and ambient compared to what I was expecting.

The track starts off mellow and moody with some drum rolls and tympani(?). Gets more rocking and upbeat later. Mellows out and gets more bluesy later still. "Eternal Universe" is a nice and pleasant ballad type song. Seems like single material and an album highlight to some, but to me it does very little. "Moaning Lisa" is the 14 minute epic which I didn't think much of when I first heard it but it grew on me. Starts out very classical sounding then gets more folky sounding. Generally, the whole thing comes off as 'prog folk'. Halfway through we get some interesting drumming and harmonica. Some Spanish at the end.

"Campfire (Tulen Luona)" is another song sung in Finnish. Mostly acoustic and folky sounding; no drums or percussion here. Nice way to end the album. Like the debut, the music here is diverse. Perhaps too diverse at times. If you enjoyed the first Corvus Stone you most likely will like this as well (maybe even more so). My final verdict will be a 3.5 but I'll round it up to 4 stars.

Review by FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars For a while there wasn't a day when I didn't see two or three reviews of this album on the PA home page. Deep in my own exploration of progressive rock, I felt almost annoyed by new releases that begged to be heard. IQ's "Road of Bones", Opeth's "Pale Communion", two of which I managed to acquire, and Iamthemorning's sophomore release and the latest and last Pink Floyd, neither of which I have gotten a hold of yet but will get there. With my CD budget blown again for another year, Corvus Stone would have to wait. Except that some kind soul (you know who you are) felt that this album would be right up my preferential alley and offered to send me a copy if I thought I might like it. Good gravy! Talk about the gift of music. This was indeed an album I could enjoy.

I swore I would avoid a track by track run down, but this album is rather rich in really good progressive ROCK with lots of special flavours and assorted delicacies carefully placed on the table so that one may eat to his filling of tasty musical morsels not too hot and not too peculiar. If you are a fan of Deep Purple, seventies Rainbow, The Flower Kings, and other bands, perhaps Camel, with some great emphasis on guitar and keyboard playing supported by an active bass and drummer with good breeding, then this album should appeal. These guys are out to enjoy making music first and foremost. This is their band and it's for them. If you want to ride along, jump aboard!

"The Simple Life" is a surprising opening song that leaps straight into the music. I can hardly place where I've heard something like that before when the vocals come in and I am reminded of Peter Banks era Yes. Keyboards and guitar grab my attention but listen to that bass rumble.

Now a waltz with "Early Morning Call". Organ and some guitar moments that utter the name Blackmore. And do I detect a touch of old Camel in there? Or is it the Flower Kings? Perhaps something else. The moment has passed. A very pleasing piece of work, this instrumental.

And now for a great rock guitar instrumental that plays through a couple of different moods before a haunting desert theme emerges. But wait! This is not an instrumental. "Boots for Hire" features vocalist Stef Flaming. I picture a black-clad, rugged, middle-aged frontiersman with a black Stetson. But hey, Ian Gillan could have sung this as well. Not the young Gillan. The present day Gillan. The instrumental section transforms into a heavy prog number with a quick tempo and organ, almost like some classic proto-metal bit from the early seventies before the music glides smoothly back into the eerie desert music. "Sun is gone and all is brown" might recall Zeppelin's "Kashmir". This epic track takes a long slow journey through a desert twilight atmosphere before closing with some spooky keyboard sounds.

"Sneaky Entrance in to Lisa" is a short instrumental with a Spanish guitar feel and piano. It's pretty and it's over pretty quick. We'll have to wait to later to hear more of where that was going.

A revving engine, the screech of tires, and a Deep Purple salute. "Purple Stone" gets the Purple references on the table. "Yes, we like Deep Purple." And in case you are still in doubt, check out the artwork on the back of the CD booklet. It's four purple crow heads carved out of Mount Rushmore! Corvus Stone. Purple Stone. There you go. Two singers here, and my guess it's Blake Carpenter whose voice is the one I don't care too much for. The music rocks and rolls and there's organ and wah-wah guitar. A very cool and busy bass-line comes in twice. The lyric "Will I make it round the bend" has such potential for referencing insanity but instead concludes with, "or will I die?" Wait. Is this referencing "Trashed" by Black Sabbath? And then the Deep Purple tribute line, quoting a favourite classic also about a car. I have to admit that this is the first track that doesn't warm up to me like the rest of the album has. But it's shorter than my review of it.

Now another instrumental with "A stoned Crow meets the Rusty Wolff Ral" and a beautiful intro with acoustic guitar and gentle waves of synthesizer chords. It moves into a mid-tempo rock number that brings about some surprising time signature changes and some delightful snippets of weirdness. There's a flute-like synthesizer, heavy guitar, and organ. This piece will keep you guessing which way its going to turn for the first couple of minutes before the pattern establishes itself. A showcase mostly for guitar and keyboard but don't ignore the rhythm section.

"Lisa has a cigar" has me at a loss to describe the music. Something European. It's very nice and then it's over. And then there's "Mr. Cha Cha" which has a 1974 rock rhythm feel and has me thinking this could be Deep Purple meets Nektar. This could also be a salute to Rainbow Ritchie Blackmore, late seventies? Nice organ. And a change of pace with a strong mid to late seventies rhythm and synthesizer. That bass doesn't want to stay in the background. I'm suddenly reminded of "Son of Alerik", the bonus track on the "Perfect Strangers" reissue.

Tinkling piano, bass, guitar wails, and string synthesizer. Vocals come in. Strangely, this music brings to mind the band Iona for some reason. Interesting and a surprising sudden close. Such is "Dark Tower".

The much lauded "Scandinavians in Mexico" is not the Sonoran party track I had come to expect. The Mexican groove is modest and more like what a Mexican rock band might have striven for. Instead, just enjoy the lively rhythm and the synthesizer and guitar lead work. A great fun piece of music nonetheless.

Oh, look! A bass intro with a bit of mystery, accompanied by acoustic guitar and synthesizer. "Mystery Man" begins and the keyboards and guitar take turns trading quick exchanges. I find the lyrics a little obvious but the vocals are strong. The music takes us through various changes with slow acoustic parts and some harder heavier sections.

I wondered if this next song "Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla tuonnempana)" would bear any resemblance to the music of the band Camel but it doesn't match what I know. It's sung in Finnish and the exotic language sits well with me because it suits the slow and sombre music at the start. Are we witnessing a march to a funeral? Then there's a change a we get a cool switch to an upbeat rock groove. I love how the song winds down, too.

"Uncle Schunkle" might just get my vote for coolest instrumental in the album. While we get lots of Colin Tench's master rock guitar, the rhythm in this track moves very coolly. The bass is really in there! And there are these abrupt changes in the groove of the rhythm that almost don't get noticed until after the change has occurred. Yes, this is a great piece but it ends too soon. Or is that a timely end after all?

A slow acoustic piece that sounds very early seventies in approach. Not quite Yes this time for "Eternal Universe" but with some good vocal parts. There's that sweet flute keyboard sound. At the close it sounds like the song will change gears and really get moving. Perhaps an Andean flute and guitar bit? But no. It just ends. Perhaps there was an opportunity missed here?

"Moaning Lisa" is actually a ballad in the original sense of the word about a woman whose father drowned at sea. As a result of her heartbreak she becomes a target for lustful men and eventually she joins her father, leaving her ghost to haunt the sea winds. The song features a blend of acoustic and electric with a hint of Spanish flavour, though there is more to this than my musical background can describe. The vocals have an accent which adds to the foreign feel. Surely though, even with all its non-traditional elements, this song can't help but dropping into a heavy rock passage that reminds me a bit of the band Armageddon, who cut one album in '75. This is a well-developed epic piece that keeps taking the listener into new territory. Catch the flowers-in-the-hair hippy folky passage before it returns to a Spanish ballad and then moves into an almost dance-able folk rock conclusion. Great music!

The final song is another Finnish one and a pleasant folky acoustic number, a suitable conclusion for an album that has given us plenty of rock and Spanish-flavoured acoustic music as well.

This album has proven to be a pleasant journey worth repeating anytime. No, I was not dancing in the aisles from the start. This is not an album for pulling off a few great tracks and whistling them in the shower and then getting back to the rest later. Like a hot spring spa, this is an album to sit back and soak up in order to appreciate. The person who sent me this was right in guessing this was my groove. It is an album I enjoy listening to from start to finish, and though there are a couple (only a couple) of tracks that I feel are just alright, I don't feel like skipping them.

Someone said the album was eclectic but I don't think so. Corvus Stone is a rock band with a strong seventies feel in the most positive way, and that can be heard in almost every track. The colour comes from the Spanish or other sounds and styles they merge so nicely with their music, meaning it's more than just a 70's tribute band. This is really good upper level rock with a flair for blending in folk and ethnic music.

I'm not giving this five stars for the simple reason that I am really now looking forward to their third album, hopefully to come in two year's time. I have yet to hear the debut, but based on the reviews and what I have heard here I strongly believe that Corvus a Stone will be one of those bands that really hit their mark on the third album. Many great bands produce their most historic work on either their third album or their third with key new members (Deep Purple, Yes, and Genesis for example). Corvus Stone are on the right path to producing one of the most phenomenal albums of the decade. If this was close to that then I have especially high expectations for Corvus Stone III!

Review by Second Life Syndrome
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Some bands improve with every effort, while some bands seem to think that they have reached the pinnacle of excellence already. Corvus Stone's debut was incredibly lackluster, seemingly wandering from pretention to botched musicianship in no time at all. In all honesty, when I saw the cover for the second album, simply named "II", I didn't have much hope for it either. Why? Well, this art to me represents an attempt at gaining interest from listeners through sex appeal rather than through great music. Despite all this, I decided to listen to it a few times.

I was correct. Corvus Stone's second effort is incrementally better than their first outing. I actually had hope after the first couple tracks, as some world music influences are apparent here. Yet, the band soon mostly drops these personality earmarks to go off once again into a world of short, meaningless songs; long, grinding tracks; incomplete, immature compositions; and strangely low quality musicianship. The album goes on and on, and I just wanted it to end. In fact, it seems to get worse as it progresses, though this may be my own annoyance with the music, rather than the actual composition.

I would love to know where the band comes up with their track names. It seems like they have a drinking party and then try to come up with the most bizarre names to tag onto songs that literally have nothing to do with the title most of the time. This style is simply not my thing. The tongue-in-cheek, boisterous approach may be something that others enjoy, and I suppose it could be a change of pace. However, I just can't seem to enjoy it. Corvus Stone's "II", however, isn't the worst thing I've heard this year, and it does have some enjoyable tracks in the first half. If you loved the first album, you will love this one, too. That's the highest praise I can give this album.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the second child of Corvus Stone, a multi-national band whose first album was edited back in 2012, entering to the complex progressive rock world with a daring 79-minute record. With "Corvus Stone II" they repeat the dose, because once again Pasi Koivu, Colin Tench and co. bring a daring 79-minute album, divided in 16 pieces. Personally, when I wrote the review of their first I aid it was really long, so there were moments where I felt lost, where I did not enjoy it as I would have loved to, and I have to say that this same feeling happens now with this new album, but with a lesser impact. However, I have understood they charm lies on their eclecticism, they will to compose and create prog rock whose songs might not be related to each other, but are very well crafted. Of course, I have enjoyed more Corvus Stone now.

It starts with "The Simple Life", a very nice two-minute introduction to Corvus Stone's eclectic journey. The first that caught my attention was the keyboards, and then the vocals with a sweet symphonic sound, so the beginning is bright, let's see what happens next. "Early Morning Call" has some cadency, it is a nice instrumental track that could be used as a film soundtrack, it is easy to put some images in one's head. "Boots for Hire" is the first long composition, reaching almost the nine-minute mark. The sound is pretty interesting, a kind of bluesy introduction with a soft spacey background. At minute 2 vocals by Stef Flaming enter, opening the gates to a brand new song, because it turns into a psychedelic piece, at least for the next two minutes. Then it slows down and morphs again, and again. This is one of the virtues of Corvus Stone, they change in every single second, they dare to change, which is something good.

"Sneaky Entrance to Lisa" is a 30-second interlude by Colin Tench. It leads to "Purple Stone", whose first seconds are dedicated to a car speeding up. Later the music enters in a rocky mood, with vocals by Blake Carpenter, so the sound is a bit more theatrical. It has nice details such as the bass lines, but I must say this is not my favorite song at all. "A Stoned Crow Meets the Rusty Wolff Ratt" is a longer composition, which contrasts a lot with the previous one. Here the sound is more delicate, it has acoustic guitar and nice atmospheric keyboards at first; later it changes and becomes rockier. After four minutes there is a nice passage where keyboards take leadership, adding that symphonic sound. The song runs and flows nicely, with maybe one or two pauses that I would omit. Of course, drums are great in this particular track.

Another short interlude comes with "Lisa has a Cigar", a classical track by Pasi Koivu. "Mr. Cha Cha" comes right away, a nice instrumental song with a cool rhythm and a rock style, I assume it is a kind of rendition (or maybe mockery) to the Cha Cha Cha genre, I don't know. "Dark Tower" is another interlude, a very nice one, this time with Carpenter's voice. "Scandinavians in Mexico" shares a nice even danceable tune, it actually sounds delicious, it is like a blend of rock, jazz and Latin rhythms. I have to say these guys are very talented, they have the capacity of creating great eclectic music through online ideas, and they have are capable of complementing each other's ideas, which give as a result these so different songs.

"Mystery Man" has again Carpenter's vocals. This track is pretty nice, atmospheric and melancholic; I liked how they slowed down here and show a slighter face of Corvus Stone, though after some minutes the song becomes deeper, more passionate, with a great guitar work. This is one of my favorite tracks. "Camelus Bactrianus" is sung by Timo Rautiainen and if I'm not wrong, lyrics are in Finnish, and though it is impossible for me to understand, the music and the vocal color makes it truly enjoyable, with a kind of somber mood, interesting. "Uncle Shunckle" is a wonderful instrumental track, another one of my favorites here. I think the musicianship is excellent, each and every instrument makes its own party, but at the same time, one leads to another and so on, I mean, they perfectly complement each other.

"Eternal Universe" is another very good track, this time sung by Phil Naro, and it returns to the softest side of Corvus Stone. But well, the epic comes next with "Moaning Lisa", a 14- minute piece where Sean Filkins sing, so it is pretty reminiscent to Big Big Train. The first five minutes are pretty sweet, pastoral, easy to dig and I would also say, beautiful. Then it begins to morph, the electric side appears (it was acoustic-driven at first), so a great blend of guitars put a wonderful atmosphere, while Filkins vocals become more passionate little by little, adding a nice diversity of elements such as Spanish folk, jazzy keyboards and heavier percussions. The music flows, I love how the song does not let you go, I mean, you remain interested and expecting new and new surprises. Their richness of sounds will keep you enthusiastic while listening to it, so what you have to do, is relax, enjoy the passages and let the music do the talking. Finally, "Campfire" provide the last two minutes of this excellent, challenging record.

I invite you to discover Corvus Stone's music, it is an amazing blend of genres and elements with a positive and satisfying result. Enjoy it!

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Due to the active promoting this album was heavily reviewed 4-5 months ago. I confess I haven't much listened to it during these months, but not because I wouldn't enjoy it. CORVUS STONE is a multinational quartet (keyboardist Pasi Koivu and bassist Petri Lindström being my countrymen from Finland), and worth mentioning as the original namer of the group and "the driving force from day one" is also Sonia Mota, who's painted the hot & sexy cover art. The CS albums may be too unfocused and full to be easily absorbed, but as they themselves state, "you are free to make your 50 minute album from our 80". One has to respect their stubborn and fully devoted passion to make things their own way instead of the safest possible way. My appreciation also to the leaflet with heartfelt credits - and web addresses - to all collaborators and supporters, and lyrics that are mostly written by the guest vocalists in question.

CS II consists of 16 tracks, 7 of them instrumentals. Music is stated to be "extremely varied" and "not genre safe", but I found out that even as a background listening it is rather ear-friendly, despite all the uncoherence one might blame it for. To me this album really seems to be the better and more evenly pleasant musical journey than the debut. There were some genre explorations on the debut that I didn't like. The musicians having fun can sometimes be irritating to the listener. This one is much more coherent to my ears, there wasn't anything I'd strongly dislike and there are more sincere emotions involved in songs, thanks to the finely chosen collaborators. Occasionally I thought that some short instrumental tracks in a row could have been melted into one entity, just for convenience.

Of the vocal tracks I want to mention Phil Naro's short opener 'The Simple Life'; even shorter 'Dark Tower' and its longer brother 'Mystery Man' (both sung by Blake Carpenter); two tracks, a long and a brief one, sung in Finnish by Timo Rautiainen who's best known from the Metal genre but whose voice is here happily free of Metal clichés (those lyrics are by Matti Kervinen of PAX ROMANA); plus the longest and admittedly the best track 'Moaning Lisa' featuring lyrics and vocals of SEAN FILKINS. Indeed, if you feel there are uninteresting fillers, why not plan your own favourite edition (50-60 minutes) of this extremely well produced album. Four stars easily deserved!

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Report this review (#1313567) | Posted by Baronet | Friday, November 21, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#1287936) | Posted by CargonaHarleyNow | Sunday, October 5, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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