December 22, 2014

Progressive Rock Review: Corvus Stone II

Release Date: 20th Oct 2014
Label: Melodic Revolution Records

Corvus Stone is a multi-national project which came together in 2012, ostensibly as an accidental meeting up on social media sites. There was initially a core trio forming Corvus Stone, but soon more people became involved and their self-titled debut album in 2012 (digital release followed by a physical CD) involved no less than 8 people. Fast forwarding to the release of album No 2, called Corvus Stone II, sees the original core trio expanding to 4 and another 8 guests contributing.

The original members of Corvus Stone were Colin Tench (guitars), Petri Lemmy Lindstrom (bass) and Pasi Koivu (keyboards), with Robert Wolff (drums and percussion) joining the band just after album No 1 had been recorded. The guest musicians include Blake Carpenter, Sean Filkins, Phil Naro, German Vergara, Andres Guazzelli, Timo Rautiainen and Stef Flaming, all contributing to the vocals on various tracks, with Sean also adding percussion and harmonica and Stef adding guitar and keyboards. Victor Tassone also was involved, contributing drums and percussion.

Corvus Stone II is a 16 track album with a running time of 79 minutes, which is certainly value for money with 80 minutes being deemed the longest time available on CD without compromising the quality of the recording. Four tracks have playing times of 2 minutes or less, with track 4, “Sneaky Entrance into Lisa,” the shortest at only 30 seconds. The penultimate track, “Moaning Lisa” is by far the longest track on offer at a touch over 14 minutes. (14:08)

Corvus Stone literally defy musical description in that the range of directions the music moves off in means that any attempt at a definition is meaningless. One moment you are in blues mode, then rock, ballad, heavy rock and then back again. The band themselves, on the sleeve notes (showing my age with that comment), state “This album is extremely varied. It does not follow any imaginary rules. It is not genre safe!”

The opening track to II is “The Simple Life” (2:00) which is almost a “feel good” song, with gentle harmonies and a delicate undulating vocal (Phil). This is an interesting short track which leads into “Early Morning Call” (3:52) with great organ/guitar interplay. Another track which epitomizes the same “what a great day to be alive” feeling. Midway through the track, the piano and bass get a little spotlight and the track meanders along with more guitar passages (Colin) and at times moves towards the film soundtrack border.

“Boots for Hire” (8:58) is a more bluesy based track which allows more guitar string bending and there are subtle “string” appearances. Vocals are very clear (Stef) and almost delivered in a chanting style around the 2 minute mark and the track takes a slight swerve around 2:45 minutes into a more keyboard driven mode. This allows some more guitars to interplay with the keyboards, all the while retaining that bluesy feel to proceedings. There is a little passage of “random noise,” before the vocals reappear above an excellent band workout. The track moves steadily to its finale with some superb bass being heard as the overall sound is stripped away, leaving the bleeping of a “heart monitor” and then it is gone.

“Purple Stone” (3:22) is a little tilt towards Deep Purple and is a slice of out and out rock, with vocals by Blake and Andres. Beauty and a pastoral feel exude from the start of “A Stoned Crow Meets The Rusty Wolff” (7:37) and when the band all pitch in after about a minute, there is still a feeling of gentleness, albeit with some out of kilter drumming. The soundscape continues to shift time patterns, enveloping the listener in the music, as the track moves into a guitar and keyboards passage. Edging past the 5 minute mark there is a hint of space rock about the proceedings which still seems to fit seamlessly within the track. This is an excellent example of a band of excellent musicians working well together, while at times have their tongues firmly in their cheeks and don’t seem to be taking things too seriously.

With “Mr Cha Cha” (4:50), track 8, we have the fourth “guitar rock” orientated track with Colin showing an amazing variety of styles. The other tracks fitting into this quartet thus far are “Boots For Hire,” “Purple Stone” and “A Stone Crow Meets The Rusty Wolff.”

“Dark Tower” (1:48) although short has a superb piano, some more delicate guitar and great vocals (Blake), before leading into the samba styled “Scandinavians In Mexico” (5:06), with a tribute to one Carlos Santana, as Colin’s guitar playing reminds the listener of the sweet sound of Santana, ably backed by the brilliant keyboards of Pasi.

Acoustic guitar leads into another Deep Purple sounding work out on “Mystery Man” (6:37) with organ and the characteristic slow heavy guitar associated with Deep Purple. Certainly there has not been any point at which the listener has any time to drift from the music on display. Blake again takes on the vocals and there is also an amazing instrumental break with melodic, then sawing, guitars over a burbling reverberating organ.

“Camelus Bactrianus” (8:42) is a very somber dramatic soundscape and sounds almost like the background music to an execution or at the very least, generates a feeling of foreboding. This is a stunning slow grower of a track, with vocal, in Finnish, by Timo adding to the overall mysterious atmosphere.

The tour-de-force of the album is “Moaning Lisa” (14:08) and is another switch in style and sound. Some wonderful acoustic guitar backed by unobtrusive bass and the voice of Sean all adds up to a sea shanty/folk styled track. Around the halfway point, there is a marked change of style with a harder rockier sound taking over. The gentler folksier side of the Stone then resumes before some violin adds a different element. The final track is a simple acoustic number sung in Finnish, again by Timo.

Corvus Stone II is an excellent follow up album and again highlights the difficulty in trying to put the band into a specific genre. The album gets both stickers and my simple advice is…..”Go and buy this album, at once.”

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Dark Tower, Camelus Bactrianus,  Moaning Lisa

Tracks:The Simple Life
Early Morning Call
Boots For Hire
Sneaky Entrance In To Lisa
Purple Stone
A Stoned Crow Meets The Rusty Wolfe
Lisa Has A Cigar
Mr Cha Cha
Dark Tower
Scandinavians In Mexico
Mystery Man
Camelus Bactrianus (Tuolla Tuonnempana)
Uncle Schunkle
Eternal Universe
Moaning Lisa
Campfire (Tulen Luona)

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

December 22, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

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