In the review of ThreeFour (2011, see review), the debut album by the Italian band Phoenix Again, I wrote the following lines: hopefully this album is not a one-off tribute to Claudio Lorandi, the musician who passed away much too young and left some wonderful guitar parts behind. I guess he should have wanted the band to create a successor to this strong CD sooner or later. Let ThreeFour be an inspiration to carry on. It's highly recommended to people who love the albums recorded by Camel.
Three years later the band indeed recorded Look Out, the successor to their strong debut. I was wondering of course, if they had managed to come up with a second strong record after the loss of Claudio Lorandi. Could they still proceed to create great compositions that would make the hearts of prog rock fans beat faster? Well, after listening to the long instrumental opening piece Adso Da Melk I could answer that question with a wholehearted yes! This piece starts with a male church choir which immediately impressed me. The fine acoustic guitar parts in the vein of Gordon Giltrap sound really brilliant and the amazing jazz-rock and fusion elements they have incorporated in the music didn't remind me of Camel at all. However, for a moment I thought they had copied a part of Lunar Sea since I heard the same kind of rhythm and even guitarist Andy Latimer crossed my mind as the song continued.
Well, every now and then I could still hear the influences of Camel, but not as much as on their debut. Especially the guitar and synthesizer parts occasionally reminded me of this band. This time it seems as if the Dutch outfit Focus inspired the band as well − listen for example to tracks like The Endless Battle and Winter - next to the many elements taken from jazz-rock, fusion, Latin-rock and progressive rock. Just as on the band's first CD the level of composing is high. So I have to compliment Antonio Lorandi (bass), Sergio Lorandi (guitars), Marco Lorandi (guitars), Giorgio Lorandi (percussion), Silvano Silva (drums, percussion) and Andrea Piccinelli (keyboards, cello) for doing a great job without their former mentor. However, he's still present as his voice can be heard on Invisible Shame, the only track that contains vocals.
Sometimes a band must go through hard times to come out stronger. This certainly applies to the musicians of Phoenix Again. However, they rose like a phoenix out of the ashes and presented some new music of which they all can be proud of. It's highly recommended to those who enjoy the music of Camel and Focus mixed with the aforementioned elements. To those people I would say: look out for Look Out!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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