Tuesday 4th May: By now a lot of fans of The Reasoning will have already picked up their copy of the band’s third album, Adverse Camber, which was available to buy on the tour before the general release date of yesterday. In fact, the original pressing of 3,000 has already sold out (but worry not, more are on their way.) I picked mine up at the York gig and it’s been in and out of various CD players since.
First, a word about the cover, which is a radical departure from the artwork covers of the first two albums. While it doesn’t scream “prog!” at you, something about it does remind me of Storm Thorgerson‘s work for Pink Floyd. I’m not sure what it is about it as, being honest, it looks nothing like any particular Floyd cover – maybe it’s the slight surrealism in the background pictures – but from the first time I saw it, that was the thought that has popped into my head.
Adverse Camber is not as dark as the previous album, Dark Angel, or, even Awakening, the band’s debut. It does, however, retain some of the heaviness which marks The Reasoning as a little different from most female-fronted prog bands. The lighter tone may have something to do with Dylan Thompson seeming to take more of a back stage in terms of vocals, allowing Rachel Cohen’s almost choral vocals to be front and centre for almost the entire album, with Dylan really only sharing lead vocals with Rachel on Through The Now, which actually ends up being more of a triple-header as new backing vocalist Maria Owen also gets a chance to shine during parts of the song. (Not that she doesn’t shine as a backing vocalist – in fact, along with Dylan, she provides some of the best backing vocals I can remember hearing, both on the album and during the live set.)
Musically, a lot of the album seems not to be made up of full tunes, but snatches of music which ebb and flow around the vocals, never allowing the listener to get bored or to guess what form the songs are going to take. The music on the album varies between the neo-classical, with the piano opening to Script Switch Trigger, and some very heavy metal-like guitar solos. The overall effect, when mixing the vocals and the music is something that hovers just to the light side of the mid point between traditional prog rock and the likes of Evanescence.
Highlights for me are the Eastern influenced keyboards and choppy guitars of The Thirteenth Floor and the aforementioned, ballad-like, Script Switch Trigger, my favourite song on the album, which showcases Rachel’s crystal clear enunciation. (Apparently the title comes from a theory of humour but I didn’t follow Rachel’s explanation from the stage and have just been more confused by internet searches…) The Nobody Effect, contains the album’s heaviest guitar work overlaid with some subtle keyboards but I’m afraid I am unable to listen to the chorus without being reminded of Genesis’ Driving The Last Spike.
Adverse Camber is a well-above average album and, like its cover, is definitely a bit of a departure from the band’s previous output. However, while there’s nothing actually wrong with the album, I still find myself preferring Awakening.
1. Diamonds And Leather
2. The Nobody Effect
3. The Thirteenth Floor
4. Through The Now
5. Script Switch Trigger
Rachel Cohen – Vocals & Percussion
Dylan Thompson – Vocals, Electric/Acoustic Guitars & Mandolin
Matthew Cohen – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Mandolin & Percussion
Maria Owen – Vocals
Tony Turrell – Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Owain Roberts – Electric Guitar
Jake Bradford-Sharp – Drums & Percussion