When a couple of high regarded names from the progressive rock scene embrace each other in a new band/project, the expectations immediately are sky high and the references to a new “Supergroup” soon will be aired. So, that is what these four musicians just did not want, their goal was to just play cool rock music that sets you back to the seventies, when bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin ruled the world. Kiama pays tribute to that era in the best possible way, by releasing an authentic sounding honest album, without any fuss.
Sign Of IV is the name of the album that was put together by four fabulous musicians who have earned their fame in music; Dylan Thompson left The Reasoning and is in Kiama responsible for the lead vocals and guitar, drummer Andy Edwards, became well respected for his participation in IQ, Frost and as a musician for Robert Plant. Luke Machin is perhaps one of the best, but underrated guitar players from the scene and known for his work in The Tangent and his own band Maschine. Last but not least is Magenta and Kompendium's Rob Reed; basically multi-instrumentalist, but in Kiama playing bass, keyboards and occasionally guitar.
Sign Of IV does take you back to the seventies within a few seconds when the up tempo Cold Black Heart starts. Retro guitars and a soaring keyboard are forming the base of this Led Zeppelin meets Uriah Heep composition; passionate vocals and an intriguing bluesy guitar solo are right in place. Tears reduces the speed and is focussed on the intense vocal parts, sometimes reminding a bit of Steven Wilson during the smooth parts. This song handles human relations going from bad to worse and has a great build up towards the furious end. Pink Floyd comes to mind when Muzzled continues; again the vocals are excellent during this mesmerizing composition, with a huge Moog solo and angelic female vocals accompanying Dylan to the end. The following; Slime turns to power on again, adding a spacy element to their music. Slime combines the original seventies music with elements of Steven Wilson's music, during the period he honoured the same era. Sorrow is the main theme for I Will Make It Up To You and the intensity not only shows in the vocal parts, the melancholic guitar definitely adds to the atmosphere, as well as the retro keyboards. To The Edge is a fine up tempo song that vocally tributes Robert Plant during the smoother mid-section, the other parts are rough and catchy, with additional female background vocals. Beautiful World is another song that starts as a smooth, intense composition, one that gently grows in power and holds a strong guitar solo, a bass versus drum solo spot and a wonderful keyboard that leads you through the instrumental part at the end. In the vein of the long epical compositions of the honoured era, Slip Away could easily fit in. Everything is present; the voice, bombast, a cool solo, a tough sounding bass and plenty of inventive keyboard sounds. The song that finishes the album is called Free, one of the most intense on the album, but certainly the one that holds the best guitar solo of the album.
When Kiama takes you back in time they do not only pay tribute to the music of the seventies, but also use a number of their cliché's, lyrical wise. For me this album, recorded in Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios, is a perfect way to honour our roots. Four experienced, enthusiastic musicians have gone out of the box and exceeded our expectations, but in a different way than we would have predicted.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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