(All Album Reviews by Boceephus)
- Tim LaRoi / guitars, keyboards, vocals
- Bill Kiser / drums
- John Sahagian / vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Tom Burke / bass
After a long hiatus, 1999, Relayer has finally returned with Façade. There are a few changes in the band’s sound; growth as musicians and humans being the first thing I noticed. Maturity shines through, but the strong melodies and crafty song writing are still there, better than ever.
Relayer plays a fine line between hard rock, emotive ballads, and pop ditties with classic progressive rock flourishes. I detect touches of Yes, Rush, Queen and Pink Floyd slithering within the music. For me, the highlights are the soaring vocals of John Sahagian. Combining the range of Freddy Mercury without the pretentiousness and vaudevillian flamboyance, with gritty rage and schoolboy charm, Sahagian delivers a powerhouse performance on each tune. LaRoi’s guitar playing is really picking up some individuality, shifting between power chords and intricate finger-picked melodies. I’m happy to hear Tom Burke’s bottom heavy Ric-o-sound intact and a busy as on previous releases. Bill Kiser’s drums still sound great pounding out polyrhythms to keep the band moving forward.
“Slipstream” opens with a Rush-like open chord guitar melody, before the vocals take over with hopeful, uplifting, “don’t miss your time in the sun” lyrics. A spiritual tune, “My Damn Self,” is beautiful and heartfelt song that is part Styx, part Queen. “LaRoi’s guitar work contains some Gilmouresque qualities on more than a few tracks. LaRoi even takes some lead vocals on “Bring Home the Sun” and “For Future Days,” acoustic based songs that would have found a place on Animals or Wish You Were Here. “Parabola” is a fine instrumental workout with LaRoi’s searing guitar and Burke’s solid Rickenbacker bass-lines playing off Kiser’s super-charged drumming. “Freedom” begins with a loose drum machine track and eerie guitar effects and builds into a galloping romp, a perfect driving tune, relating the freedom from a bad relationship. “Liberator 24” is another powerful rocker which screams to be cranked whilst cruising on the nations highways, with it many twists and turns. “Hope in Fairytales” would sound great tracked between “Too Late” and “Spread Your Wings” on Queen’s News of the World. I can’t help but think RPWL when I listen to “Murdered a Friend.” The finger-picked acoustic reminds me of some 70’s singer-songwriter music. Tom Burke’s bass is in your face on “Pretty Toy Guns” opening moments, propelling the music along before LaRoi takes charge with a churning solo. Lyrically “PTG” has some heavy political overtones. “Mid Day Moon” features a sweet synth underlay for the verse and deft piano work throughout.
Relayer’s Façade should appeal to fans of IZZ, RPWL, Singularity, Queen, Styx, Pink Floyd and those who just love melodic thoughtful music. I’m happy to hear the new music and hope for more in future days.