Theme Switcher
Switch to:

Notes about GDM Themes
Click to learn more about GDM themes


Not a member yet?
Click here to register.

Forgotten your password?
Request a new one here.
Site Stats
Album Reviews: 6860
Comments: 16620
Ratings: 4879
Forum Posts: 22005
Articles Hierarchy
Articles Home » 2004 Articles » Stencil Forest - 2004 Opening Act [re-release]
Stencil Forest - 2004 Opening Act [re-release]

ARTIST: Stencil Forest
ALBUM: Opening Act
LABEL: Riverworld Music
SERIAL: 783707-97092-9
YEAR: 2004
CD REISSUE: Originally relased in 1982, Realtime Records, RTA 1000


LINEUP: Doug Andresen - vocals * Frank Casella - guitars, keyboards, vocals * Rob Nilsen - guitars, vocals * Rick Casella - keyboards, vocals * Scott Noyes - bass, bass pedals, vocals * Stan Swaim - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Opening Act * 02 Celestial Voices * 03 Just A Fantasy * 04 Crossroads * 05 Looking Back * 06 The Pandemonium Shadow Show * 07 Indian Summer * 08 Five Studded Poker Player * 09 Five By Five (Bonus) * 10 Just A Fantasy (Bonus, Acoustic)


Another band that have a complimentary seat here at the house of GLORY-DAZE are Stencil Forest, all the way from South Bend Indiana. I'm gonna take a guess and say that the unusual band-name is taken from a song called 'Stumpy Meets The Firecracker in Stencil Forest' - a song off the 1977 debut album by legendary US prog/symphonic legends Happy The Man, themselves to be featured here shortly at GLORY-DAZE. From the old school of pomp rock, Stencil Forest have been around the block and back, as we bear witness to another re-release, this time their one and only album from 1983 'Opening Act', getting a flash up-to-date remastering job in 2004. The Indiana connection is coincidental, but just down the road a certain outfit called Roadmaster were about ready to call it day on their career around about the 1981 timeframe, while this lot were about to start theirs. In fact, Stencil Forest had been around a lot longer than that, a local area institution playing a style of rock which had strong melodic and progressive tendencies. This style gravitated into what many of us call pomp rock - grandiose in approach, complex in structure, and overblown in appearance. All elements we enjoy and love! I suppose that if Happy The Man were a reference point, then complex musical structures for Stencil Forest would be as easy as A-B-C!

The Songs
Of the original eight songs, there are many highlights. Fans of OTT keyboard playing similar to and better than the work you've heard with Roadmaster for instance, will find this instantly appealing.

'Opening Act' - is indeed the opening act. Musically similar to those two early Axe albums (Atco 1979 and 1980), the song has a heap of organ underpinning it. Halfway through, the dexterity of the band is obvious with tempo changes galore and a bit of musical showmanship on display. The brief synth solo in the same league is Dennis De Young. 'Celestial Voices' - musically follows a concept similar to Starcastle's best work. The organ intro is one that Herb Schildt would be proud of, and the song does take on a sci-fi like theme, as per the title. 'Just A Fantasy' - is the main ballad on the album. It soars mostly, the arrangement both atmospheric and lush. 'Crossroads' - is one of my fave tracks. It has Styx and Kansas like keyboard work throughout, while Doug's vocals are clear, and cascade to some angelic heights.

'Looking Back' - starting out with some stabbing piano, this track has everything a pomp fan can want. Structurally tight, with a hard rock slant, perhaps similar to Hobbit's material. 'The Pandemonium Shadow Show' - an eight minute extravaganza, with swirling synths everywhere, acoustic guitars and interspersed piano. Similar to 'Leftoverture' era Kansas, it has a bit of everything, and is a good listen all the way through. 'Indian Summer' - this is a laid-back affair with a string arrangement in there too. Think late 70's soft rock, with symphonic elements, not unlike Alan Parsons Project material. 'Five Studded Poker Player' - unusual title, but the intro keyboard work is wickedly good. The song undulates mostly, but from about the 3 minute mark, it drifts off on a cloud of pomp softness.. to the end of the song.

However, it ain't over yet. The new CD includes two extra tracks:

'Five By Five' - which has a very commercial feel to it. The guitar-lines very reminiscent of that 1982 Novo Combo album 'Animation Generation', plus The Police. Not very pomp at all I hear you say, but remember this was recorded originally in 1992, a good ten years after the original album, and their style appeared to take on a commercial flavour. However, the song itself is great! 'Just A Fantasy' - this an acoustic version of the original track 3, re-recorded during 2004 with Doug Andresen singing this time.

In Summary
A wonderful addition to the CD ranks, and a compulsory addition to those who have love affairs with bands such as Alpha Centauri, MPG, Starcastle, Styx, Morningstar etc. Well done to all those involved, and hopefully now it will put paid to all those overpriced rare slabs of Stencil Forest vinyl out there on Ebay. Even better news is that the band have officially reformed, and will release a new album entitled 'The Abyss' early in 2005. Woah! You can purchase a copy of this CD over at CDBaby.

Related Articles
Stencil Forest - 2004 Opening Act
Stencil Forest - 2006 The Abyss

All written content on this website is copyrighted.
Copying of material without permission is not permitted.

#1 | Jez on June 16 2008 04:10:32
Back to the good old pomp rock, and this is a very good one.If bands like Roadmaster, Alpha Centauri, Styx, Starcastle, Hobbit,Kansas & Trillion do it for you, then this will be right up your street. Material is consistently good throughout and the 2 bonus tracks are good aswell, especially 'Five By Five' which is more commercial than the rest of the material. Good to have a quality re-issue on CD after 20 years on the old vinyl.
#2 | trillion1999 on October 31 2011 22:33:20
I love most of what I have read by the author Ray Bradbury so naturally I was flabbergasted by the lyrics to The Pandemonium Shadow Show.A cool CD to have.
#3 | gdazegod on September 26 2015 09:31:32
I hear rumours of a new SF project called 'The Labyrinth'. RYM has it listed as a 2013 album release, though I've not seen it anywhere.
Post Comment
Please Login to Post a Comment.
Rating is available to Members only.

Please login or register to vote.

100% 100% 0% [No Votes]
95% 95% 0% [No Votes]
90% 90% 0% [No Votes]
85% 85% 100% [1 Vote]
80% 80% 0% [No Votes]
75% 75% 0% [No Votes]
70% 70% 0% [No Votes]
65% 65% 0% [No Votes]
60% 60% 0% [No Votes]
55% 55% 0% [No Votes]
50% 50% 0% [No Votes]
45% 45% 0% [No Votes]
40% 40% 0% [No Votes]
35% 35% 0% [No Votes]
30% 30% 0% [No Votes]
25% 25% 0% [No Votes]
20% 20% 0% [No Votes]
15% 15% 0% [No Votes]
10% 10% 0% [No Votes]
Search DDG