In 2011 I reviewed Visions, an album recorded by The Inner Road. Then I wrote that The Inner Road is a British duo arisen from the ashes of the progressive rock formation Coalition. I also stated that band members Steve Gresswell (keyboards, drums, bass guitar) and Phil Braithwaite (guitars) decided to record an album on their own after the lead singer quit the band. I ended my review as follows: 'the style of music on Visions can be described best as neo-progressive rock. So, people who enjoy music recorded by bands as Pallas, IQ and Pendragon should check out this album, but you have to bear in mind that singers like Peter Nicholls or Nick Barrett are absent. After listening to the album several times I can only compliment these musicians for creating fine instrumental music. Well done and I'm looking forward to their next musical effort'. Now, a year later the duo found a new singer and they recorded a brand new Coalition album.
After listening to In Search Of Forever it wasn't that difficult to notice the resemblance between Coalition and The Inner Road. The only difference is singer Paul Bulger. The above-mentioned bands may again be used as musical references, although hints of Abacab by Genesis are present as well on the opening track Spirit Guide. However, on Changes a band like Kansas crossed my mind, especially because of the use of a synthesizer that perfectly copied the sound of a violin. Finally I heard traces of Yes in Coalition's music thanks to the strong vocals of Paul Bulger. However, he can't be compared to Jon Anderson, but to those who replaced him: Benoit David (Mystery) and Jon Davison (Glass Hammer).
I knew that Bulger is an experienced and great singer because before joining Gresswell and Braithwaite he sang in a number of other bands. Maybe it would have been better if he had co-written the compositions as well, because as far as I know the songs were already written before he added the vocals. After a while the singing tends to sound alike despite the fact that it's strong. This more or less also applies to the high-levelled compositions in spite of the excellent guitar and keyboard parts throughout the album. Maybe this could have been avoided by making the album shorter. At most one hour of music could have been enough because after some time you tend to lose interest. Also the drum parts lack enough variety which was also the case on the album of The Inner Road. Maybe they should get a real drummer on their next album!
Reading the previous lines about this album could give you the impression that I'm rather negative, but that isn't the case at all. With In Search Of Forever, Coalition recorded a very strong album with no weak tracks at all. I enjoyed every second of it, so in general I think that most tracks will be enjoyed by lovers of neo-progressive rock. Also devotees of prog rock bands as Kansas, Camel, Yes or Genesis will be pleased with this album. I hope that the musicians will learn from my remarks and will record an even stronger album in the future. My critical remarks didn't prevent me from a positive judgment for In Search Of Forever.
****- Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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