As I really loved The Tall Ships (2008), their previous album, I was looking forward to the new CD from the British prog rockers of It Bites. The current line-up consists of John Mitchell (guitar, vocals, see interview), John Beck (keyboards), Lee Pomeroy (bass) and Bob Dalton (drums). Map Of The Past is a concept album and the eleven songs are all based on photographs from an old box. There seems to be no connection between the tracks, only that they all deal with photos from the past.
The opening piece Man In The Photograph is a rather slow track containing sounds and voices from the past on which you can even hear an accordion! Fortunately Wallflower features a lot of guitar passages, but the strings also play an important part. The title track somehow reminds me of good old Genesis, as it is catchy and very melodic indeed. Clocks could have been written for the album The Tall Ships; again a fine song, but nothing special and sounding like I've heard it before.
The first real musical highlight is Meadow And The Stream, a true prog rock song reminding me of Marillion at their best. However, the best song is undoubtedly The Last Escape. On this track It Bites really shines. It's well-composed, has a great melancholic melody and a breathtaking guitar solo by John Mitchell. Then the album ends with Exit Song, a very short track with acoustic guitar parts and the familiar sounds from the opening track meaning we have come full circle, I think.
My conclusion: I really like Map Of The Past as it is It Bites the way I like to hear them: catchy, proggy, melodic, melancholic and always surprising. The album is a compulsory purchase for all fans of outstanding prog rock as made by bands like Arena or Credo. Don't miss it!
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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