Duo review: By Cor Smeets (rating *) and Henri Strik (rating ***)
Review by Cor Smeets:
When I received Crysis, Modest Midget's second album, from my main editor some weeks ago, I was not very pleased. I remembered my first review of this international band with their base in The Netherlands. Maybe then I was too critical for their efforts. So give the boys a new change and I will do my best to write a positive review this time. And here it is: my final results, as they say in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The Grand Gate Opening, not more than 2 minutes, is played by Lonny Ziblat on his keyboard and has also some simple drumming by Willem Smid. The next one, A Centurion's Itchy Belly is not suitable for a symphonic rock CD. It's the music for a slapstick movie. In Rocky Valleys Of Dawn the sound of the happy sixties is back again. It could easily be a song from Hermann's Hermits or Gerry and the Peacemakers. A merry up tempo track of just four minutes. Also Praise The Day has no originality. A nagging little voice with an acoustic guitar. Thank God, not more than 3 minutes of slack music. It gets even worse in the next song Now That We Are Here. Again a very poppy song with the sphere of a very bad episode of the Muppet Show. And also their interpretation of a jazzy song - Periscope Down - is not my cup of tea. Their music is very outdated and has no draught at all. How many songs do I have to listen to? Another disaster is their version of a very beautiful Roy Orbison-song (Oh) Pretty Woman. You must be and feel very overestimated to rape this elegant rock song from the sixties. And Modest Midget is capable to write even worse songs. For example the instrumental Flight Of The Cockroach. Even worse than the 1971 hit Popcorn. To be a real good crooner, like Robbie Williams or Frank Sinatra, is not so easy as you can hear on the longest song Secret Lies. Simple lyrics, stolen choirs and guitar solos from Queen and Kayak. What a mistake this one, again. Please bring me a bottle of whiskey.... I want to get drunk.. Hey, The Carpenters are risen in the bad pastiche Gone Is. Musically the best song of the album is Crisis (Awake Of The Sheep), but the simple lyrics are of kindergarten level. And I won't waste any words on the last song Birth.
I wish the guys from Modest Midget a very good new year and lots of inspiration in 2015.
* Cor Smeets (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
Review by Henri Strik:
Sometimes the line between progressive rock music and other musical styles is very thin. A good example is the latest release of the in The Netherlands based outfit Modest Midget. This band, originally from Israel, has the capability to give you a wide spectrum of what is available in the music scene nowadays sound wise. The music on their second release Crysis proves this once again after showing this already on their debut The Great Prophecy Of A Great Man (see review) released in 2010.
While listening to the opening piece The Grand Gate Opening you have the idea you are going to listen to a progressive rock album. Even the opening of the next track, the instrumental A Centurion's Itchy Belly, makes you think you are dealing with a progressive rock band. The keyboards are way up front in the final mix and that's just how I like it from time to time. But when the second track continues the musical influences from Jewish music come to the surface as well. I guess many listeners had already pressed the stop button. But I am way too curious how the song develops and kept my hands off the equipment. The next piece Rocky Valley Of Dawn will probably go through as the least proggy song on the album, most likely as a fast-paced and cleverly composed pop-rock number. The very loving and highly melodic Praise The Day sounds quite as much as I would expect from Paul McCartney or The Beatles. Nothing more, nothing less! The following song Now That We're Here goes again into progressive rock territories. It reminded me a lot of the music made by The Flower Kings when percussionist Hasse Bruniusson was in the band. Prog with a smile on your face, so to speak! Canterbury-influences can be noticed on Periscope Down, an interesting guitar solo is included. On the cover version of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman the band uses ska rhythms. Well, you certainly have to be in the right mood to enjoy this humorous version of this classic pop tune! The instrumental Flight Of The Cockroach has the same kind of musical approach as you can hear on the earlier mentioned Now That We're Here. However this time Frank Zappa comes to mind as well. I guess not so strange as Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings is a fan of his music too! Secret Lies sounds a bit like a Kayak tune at the start, but turns into a rock ballad with strong progressive rock and psychedelic musical parts. The electric guitar solo towards the end is very well done and gives the song a lot of variety. Gone Is could be described as a kind of tribute to the Beatles. Crisis (Awake Of The Sheep) starts again as a progressive rock song but moves as the song continues more into a Beatles kind of composition. However the song is not completely lost for lovers of progressive rock. Several moments the music goes back to this kind of musical style. Sometimes I noticed a classical touch in the music they wrote. The final track Birth is a fine up tempo piece of music with a good short guitar intermezzo for some variety in the song.
Over all, you could say Crysis is quite a varied and interesting disc to listen to. Sure, I know not everything you hear can be regarded as progressive rock music. But that's, as I already mentioned, the thin line between this style of music and other genres that are available on this release! I guess you have to listen for yourself if this is your kind of music or not. As for myself I certainly had some fine moments while listening to Crysis!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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