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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Fish on Friday

Black Rain

Review by Gary Hill

I previously reviewed another set from this act and was very impressed. I feel equally impressed with this new release. In fact, I'd say that this is likely to make my "best of 2020" list. These guys create a form of melodic prog that probably has as much in common with Genesis and Pink Floyd as it does with more modern prog acts like The Pineapple Thief and Porcupine Tree. It's just four guys (Nick Beggs, Frank Van Bogaert, Marty Townsend and Marcus Waymaere), but Lula Beggs is a guest vocalist.

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Track by Track Review
Life in Towns
Coming in from ambience, piano leads this out from there. The cut shifts to more of a guitar-oriented balladic arrangement as it continues. It works onward gaining a bit of a volume, but remains on the mellow side. It hits a peak and drops back down. The balladic approach restarts it from there. There are some really soaring moments as the cut evolves. That's especially true of the instrumental section. It drops back to a mellow section with something that sounds like typing along with a spoken voice. We're brought back into the song proper from there for the return of the sung vocals.
Murderous Highland Highway
Another that is a melodic prog cut, there is a lot of Genesis in the jam around the mid-point. The track has a dreamy, almost Pink Floyd meets Pineapple Thief vibe on the vocal sections. It is another with a fairly wide dynamic range and powerful movements. When it shifts to a keyboard and rhythm section dominated movement further down the road, the female backing vocals reinforce that Pink Floyd thing. The killer keyboard solo that takes over after a time is not very long, but so stylish. We're brought back into the song proper as it continues from there, and the Pink Floyd element is even more pronounced as we are.
Black Rain
A faster paced prog jam brings this into being, quickly intensifying as other instruments are added. It works through a dropped back movement before working out into a sort of mid-tempo section that feels a bit like U2 goes prog. The vocals come in over the top of that section. This cut works through all kinds of shifts and changes. It has a lot of range and a lot of style.
Mad at the World
Coming in a bit tentatively, this works out to a more mainstream cut that leans toward balladic as it coalesces. As is generally the case here, this number is quite dynamic as we're taken through different sections. The closing movement is especially powerful.
Letting Go of You
There is an almost symphonic feel to the mellow opening section of this number. The cut works outward as a guitar ballad type piece from there. The first vocals are male, but female vocals enter for the second vocal performance of the cut. While this is, in many ways, a mainstream ballad, it also has plenty of prog elements on display. The duet between the two voices is such a nice touch, too. There is a drop-back movement after the halfway point that takes it to ambience with the sounds of a Trump rally. Then the cut grows outward from there, taking us back into the song proper. It intensifies from there as it continues. This gets quite powerful, while still remaining very melodic.
Angel of Mercy
This cut includes some of the most rocking music of the disc. It's a powerful piece with plenty of melodic textures leading up to that
We've Come Undone
Keyboard textures bring this number into being. Vocals come in over the top, synthesized or processed a bit. The cut fires out from there into a more powered up prog jam that runs along, taking it in new directions. It shifts back to the mellower section as it continues. I really love the female vocals and keyboard sounds as it drives back out into a more energized movement. The cut continues to modulate and evolve from there, balancing the mellower and more powered up sections with style.
Imagine merging the mellower side of Pink Floyd with that same zone from old-school Genesis. You'll find yourself somewhere in the vicinity of this piece. This is melodic, effective and quite pretty. The acoustic guitar solo is particularly cool.
We Choose to Be Happy
The rhythmic element that starts this feels synthetic. The cut fires out from this opening to a faster paced, but equally melodic, prog jam.
Trapped in Heaven
The opening section of this has a dramatic mellower mode. Somehow it feels a bit tentative. The cut grows into a more soaring and beautiful arrangement that is still on the mellower side.
The mellower melodic prog concept is at the heart of this piece, as well, at least at the start. It begins to really soar later and there are some killer keyboard sounds that dance over the top. The female vocals bring a lot of the proceedings, too. This is a particularly effective and powerful piece, making it a great closer.
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