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Aethellis

Northumbria

Review by Gary Hill

The new release from Aethellis, this one seems to stretch out a bit further than the previous set did. It’s still all progressive rock, but there are a lot of variants on that general musical theme here. This is a great disc. Those who liked the first one should really like this one, perhaps more so. It would also make an excellent introduction to a killer modern progressive rock act.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Northumbria

Great waves of vocals start this and it carries without musical accompaniment for a time. There’s a quick burst of ELP like keyboards. Then it shifts to another vocal driven section, but this time piano accompanies. Eventually it turns to a hard rocking progressive jam. There’s certainly plenty of ELP in the mix, but it’s kind of jazzy and has hints of Deep Purple. It works through several changes and alterations and really rocks. There’s a lot of groove built into this music and it’s both very progressive rock oriented and yet a lot of fun. The organ soloing on this is quite tasty. Mid-track we get another vocal dominated section. It builds out from there into some mainstream prog melodic sounds. This section is less ELP-like, but is seriously prog oriented. It’s very satisfying and powerful. At over ten minutes in length, this is definitely epic in proportion.

The Awakening
There’s a real jazzy groove to this melodic tune. It’s a lot of fun. It calls to mind Jan Hammer a bit. It’s strictly instrumental and features great performances all around.
Dire Need
This comes in feeling like something from Asia or Genesis to me. It grows out from there and the vocals bring an almost Pink Floyd air to it. This is a rocker, make no mistake, but it’s also definitely prog. There’s also a rather Yes-like section near the end.
The Penal Colony
Pounding in hard edged, rhythmic and dramatic, this turns towards a rather complex and melodic arrangement after the understated fury of that introduction. This instrumental works in a satisfying and organic way through a number of changes and alterations. It’s intricate, poignant and evocative, all built around a melodic sound. It’s quite pretty and rather jazz-oriented, at times.
Without A Sound
Here we get a pretty ballad that’s mostly based around vocals and piano. It’s a powerful and evocative song. There’s a classical opening section and it returns mid-track to give way to a melodic instrumental movement that basically complements the main musical themes. They create a more powered up version of the main song from there.
Celui Qui Soit La Bosse
This killer instrumental has a lot of jazz built into it. It’s melodic, quirky and energetic. It’s also very catchy. There’s some awesome instrumental interplay on this thing, and yet it’s all delivered with a killer groove.
Exchequer Prague
This starts with a slightly odd jam that’s got some RIO built into it. From there we get a keyboard heavy groove that feels a bit like a proggier version of Thomas Dolby’s music. There are some more fusion-like sections, too. It gets some more dissonance and weirdness thrown in for good measure here and there.
The Peace Path

As this powers out it resembles a fast paced melodic progressive rock sound with a lot of fusion and some funk in the mix. The introduction is over a minute in length and gives way to a piano solo type section. The vocals enter over the top of this basic musical concept. It grows out organically from there with female vocals and other instrumental elements added to the arrangement. Then around the three and a half minute mark it fires out to fast paced melodic progressive rock that has some semblance to Yes. A cool melodic prog jam takes it from there with hints of George Harrison to my ear.

Sounds Good
There’s a cool jazz element early on with this piece. It fires out into faster paced prog jamming that’s got a real playful element to it for the counter-balance. There’s a cool bass guitar driven section later that takes it on a short detour. This instrumental definitely makes for a satisfying closing piece.
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