The Silent Man
(All Album Reviews by The Silent Man)
25 Yard Screamer are, for those unfamiliar with them, a Welsh 3-piece - this being their third album, and the first I have heard. I have to say, this is a hugely impressive album. Often, when reviewing an album by a totally unknown quantity, one is tempted to make some allowances for it being from an up-and-coming act, but that is not necessary here, as this impresses on any level.
Revolving around the two lengthy pieces (the 20-minute “Blacklight” and 30-minute epic title track), the influences are clear from the word go - Porcupine Tree and Hogarth-era Marillion are the obvious touchstones, with some nods to Rush, partly due to the 3-piece instrumentation.
The album starts solidly with the first lengthy cut “Blacklight” - a track which can be criticised slightly for being a little disjointed in places, it's a good listen with an undeniably rousing anthemic finale.
Following this is the album's only real misstep – “Insomnia” is an uninspired percussive based song whose main purpose appears to balance out the album's structure with two short songs and two long pieces, but following on the heels of that relative failure comes the magnificent “Boy In The Window”. With its soaring chorus and joyful sounding arrangement, this sub-four minute gem would, in a perfect world, be generating extensive airplay (and indeed in the hands of Marillion, in believe it would).
The exhilaration of that beautifully crafted track leads into the album's true epic and cornerstone - the 29-minute title cut. With an intriguing lyrical premise - taking the story of Cassandra (cursed with the gift of prophecy, but not of being believed) and applying it to the contemporary world - this is a truly impressive piece of extended music, with repeated lyrical and musical themes keeping it grounded and never losing sight of the fact that it is a single developed piece, rather than falling into the trap of stitching bits together.
All in all, this is a band that deserves a much wider audience than I fear they will get. This is genuinely impressive contemporary progressive rock delivered with flair and commitment, and as such is a Breakfast of Champions.
(All Album Reviews by Windhawk)
(originally written for www.prog4you.com)
25 Yard Screamer, a band with a highly original name, are based in Wales, UK. Cassandra is their third album, and was released in January 2007.
Cassandra is dominated by opening track “Blacklight” and the title track, lasting for 19 and 29 minutes respectively. Two shorter tracks have been wedged in between the long epic tracks, and although interesting tunes in themselves, this is a release that will have most of the attention on the epic explorations.
Both of these massive compositions are built up with similar elements, although with a slightly different structure of said elements. Atmospheric sections containing sounds and voices, and at times with space-influenced and psychedelic moods are found in both tracks, in particular in the title track. Mellow and melodic passages are one of two dominating styles in these tunes, with undistorted electric guitars or acoustic guitars conveying fragile and emotional atmospheres, strengthened by the melodic vocals and careful use of synths. These passages resemble the mellow moments produced by bands like Marillion; though with less extensive use of synths. The other dominating style in the two epic tunes here are slightly harsher riff-based segments, with influences from bands like Rush and U2 easily heard. Additionally, these last segments take on a darker and heavier tinge at times, becoming close to metal in style.
The songs move back and forth between these segments with ease, creating fascinating and interesting tunes highly listenable, performed skillfully and faultless.
The only negative aspect is that the two epic tracks last a bit too long; some of the segments do plod on for a bit longer than needed. Still, they are good and entertaining tunes nonetheless; and makes this an album worth investigating by fans of long, epic progressive rock tracks. Fans of acts similar to Rush will probably enjoy this release most; and people into Marillion that also appreciates harsher musical landscapes should also find this album fascinating.
My rating: 75/100