When you read the name Declan Burke, the true progressive rock fan will link it to Darwin's Radio or Frost*. Burke started Darwin's Radio together with Mark Westworth, who was IQ's keyboard player only for the Frequency- album, but after their second album Temple For A Generation (2009), Dec Burke quit the band to pursue a solo career. He joined Frost* and played on their latest live album The Philadelphia Experiment (2010) and hopefully he will record some new material with them. If you want to dig a bit deeper Burke once played in a tribute band called The Spirit Of Radio. He has worked to become an esteemed name in the British progressive rock scene and now it's time to present his first solo effort Destroy All Monsters.
On his debut album Dec Burke plays together with Nathan King and Steve Knightley on bass and Tim Churchman, Dec's old band mate from Darwin's Radio, on drums. Guest musicians are Carl Westholm, who plays keyboards on one song and Hywel Bennett playing a guitar solo. I nourished high hopes regarding the outstanding quality of the latest album of Darwin's Radio. However, after I had listened to the album a number of times I felt a bit disappointed. Destroy All Monsters never reaches the high quality of the albums of the aforementioned bands. I can only think of two reasons why it hasn't become the album I was waiting and hoping for. The first reason is the lack of progressive rock or better to say: Burke plays pop rock. He still writes good compositions, but I think they're more suitable for a pop group than for a highly respected rock musician like Declan. Most of the compositions are built around a programmed keyboard sound, which blows the guitars completely away. In my opinion, Dec Burke is a great guitarist, who plays some mean guitar on the album which brings me to my second point of criticism. The whole album has been mixed in an odd way: vocals go through the mix from left to right, the keyboards sound way too loud compared to the guitar and the only drum sound you can hear has been made by a drum computer. I've got nothing against programming, but the entire album has that programmed feel. Since real instruments sound superior to computer sounds, the total result would have been much better.
On Destroy All Monsters, Burke chose to show a more pop rock side. I missed the enthusiastic Declan Burke that I like so much making progressive and expressive music. Basically the compositions are not that bad; some of them are even quite good, but the way the album has been produced and mixed, make it difficult to listen to it without having any negative remarks. I sincerely hope that Dec Burke will return to the music where he's good at: guitar-orientated progressive rock. The solos in Promised show that he hasn't lost it, so there's hope for the future. As a musician Burke is to much a professional and therefore this album is unworthy to him.
**+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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