ARTIST: Presto Ballet
ALBUM: Peace Among The Ruins
LABEL: SPV/Inside Out
SERIAL: SPV 085-40982 CD
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Scott Albright - lead vocals, acoustic guitar * Kurdt Vanderhoof - guitars, mellotron, chamberlin, hammond organ, synths, bass pedals, electric pianos * Brian Cokeley - piano, hmmond organ, synths, electric pianos, lead and backing vocals * Jeff Wade - drums, percussion * Brian Lake - bass
TRACK LISTING: 01 Peace Among The Ruins * 02 The Fringes * 03 Seasons * 04 Find The Time * 05 Speed Of Time * 06 Sunshine * 07 Slave * 08 Bringin' It On
Another courageous move to release this album on what is perceived to be a prog rock label. The members of the band all coming from heavy metal backgrounds, but you needn't have worried, this is about as retro-prog as they come, the 70's pomp rock scene is alive in well in 2005 so it would seem. And just what is Kurdt Vanderhoof toying around in this genre for anyway? Hasn't he got enough to worry about with Metal Church
? Not so, and thank goodness for that, because we have quite literally, the surprise packet of the 2005 year, bar none. Kurdt has bought together a group of guys he knows from past experience. All have been involved with him either through his solo project Vanderhoof
or with Metal Church
. The group bio is at pains to point out that the production process for 'Peace Among The Ruins' returned to old school
values, using analog instruments such as the Mellotron and some analog recording equipment. Very retro indeed, and that is the feeling you get while listening to the album. Kansas
and Deep Purple
fans go grab a coffee and pull up a seat!
Things get off to a fantastic start with the title track 'Peace Among The Ruins', the aggression and energy countered by ever-present organ runs, piano and other assorted keyboards. Kansas
is written all over 'The Fringes', but dynamically so. The chorus and vocal harmonies are great. 'Season's is a bit shorter at 3 and a half minutes, and didn't move me as much as the first two tracks. The James LaBrie
meets Dennis De Young
sounding vocals put me off just ever so slightly. The spacious beginnings afforded 'Find The Time' will catch you swimming in melodious strains of keyboards and lush acoustic guitars. The gentle laid back nature of this tune in stark contrast to the rest of the album. The acoustic intro on 'Speed Of Time' opens the door to some dramatic Kansas
like prog, the organ work a pleasure to hear - its like I am reliving my teenage years all over again! Unlike 'Sunshine', which attempts to be more whimsical in its approach, the arrangement definitely not something you will commonly hear these days. There is ample shade cast on 'Slave', the track slightly harder rockin' than the others, with a modern appeal a la Dream Theater
. The album finishes up with 'Bringin' It On', slightly more somber starting out, but it meanders away to the end with Pink Floyd
atmospherics surrounding it all.
Opinions from many quarters have given this album the thumbs up. In the same vein as Rivel Records signing Flagship
, both bands have wound the clock back thirty years or more and enjoyed the experience by all accounts. Reliving the past is one thing, but these days with formularised radio in the USA being what it is, and an absence of good quality classic rock, it takes an album like this to make us sit and realise just what it is we're missing. And that is: quality music provided by quality musicians. For those of you who can't forget the timeless seventies, grab a slice of Presto Ballet! Ditto to those of you who want to escape the morass of today's radio drivel.
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