When bass player Kerry Chicoine left Mars Hollow he told me he was going to join a brand new American progressive rock band. Together with musicians who had played with Ten Jinn, and the Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet he had joined the ranks of Heliopolis. I certainly loved this because I always had admired the way Kerry sounded while playing on his Rickenbacker bass guitar. Many times reminding of one of his musical heroes, namely Chris Squire. Therefore I more or less expected he was in a band nowadays that would sound like the band in which Mr. Squire handles the bass. I am of course speaking about Yes. I could only find this out by listening to City Of The Sun a couple of times.
However when I heard the first notes of the opening piece on the band's debut album I was a bit puzzled, because at first New Frontier starts as a track which could have been played by King Crimson. So my theory went out of the window. But wait a minute! I had to close the window very quickly, because the first resembling sounds of Yes very soon came to the surface. The same kind of high pitched vocals of Jon Anderson came out of the speakers. Also the typical Rick Wakeman keyboard tricks could be heard. And what to think of the guitar parts. Well, Steve Howe could have done them himself. Not to mention the Chris Squire kind of bass parts. Or the same kind of strong harmony vocals. So there you go, I was right after all. The second track Take A Moment moves into the same direction music wise, with the difference that the organ parts could have been done by Keith Emerson. Emerson comes to the surface again on the third song. On the short keyboard dominated instrumental Mr. Wishbone the music moves towards Emerson, Lake & Palmer even more. But also a possible influence from a band such as The Flower Kings can be heard. A lot of musical parts reminded me of the title track of their in 1996 released album Retropolis. TFK returns also as a possible influence on the next track. But then again Yes can be heard as well on Elegy. On the final track Love And Inspiration Kerry and his musical companions Jerry Beller (drums and vocals), Matt Brown (keyboards and vocals), Mike Matier (guitars) and Scott Jones (vocals) show for the last time what excellent musicians they are. All of their musical tricks are used to create an amazing epic piece of music. Once again influenced by the music made by Yes, The Flower Kings and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But this time not only progressive rock influences are used, also elements taken from jazz rock and fusion can be enjoyed from time to time. Most of all the fast Jan Hammer kind of synthesizer solo and the short Billy Cobham-like drum solo reminded me of the famous Mahavishnu Orchestra. Well, I certainly liked this combination a lot.
City Of The Sun is without doubt a very strong debut made by Heliopolis. Most of all fans of Yes, The Flower Kings and Emerson, Lake & Palmer will embrace this album. Hopefully they will come back with a follow up release very soon! Because I'll never get enough hearing this kind of music!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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