The history of the German progressive rock act Seasons Of Time started in 1993 in Bremen. One of the founder members is Dirk Berger (bass, keyboards, additional guitars, vocals). He recorded the debut album Behind The Mirror (1997) together with several other musicians. This record contained a dramatic concept dealing with a woman who killed her children for the sake of her new lover. In 2010 Berger decided to call it a day, because he was tired of the numerous line-up changes the band had gone through. Yet, a year later he decided to re-form the band and to make a fresh start.
Seventeen (!) years after the debut, Seasons Of Time recorded a brand new studio album called Closed Doors To Open Plains. The line-up consists of Dirk Berger, Florian Wenzel (guitars), Marco Grühn (drums) and K-ly-Bell member Malte Twarloh (vocals, guitars and additional keyboards).. They got some help from Kelly Bell (K-ly-Bell) doing additional voices and Pete Harrison who played some parts on the horns.
Just like the debut, Closed Doors To Open Plains is a concept album based upon a speech by the famous comedian Charlie Chaplin in the movie The Great Dictator (1940) in which Chaplin did a parody on Adolf Hitler. Chaplin concluded the film with a six-minute speech in which he looked into the camera and professed his personal beliefs. He stated: “We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there's room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, and has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.”
The band members state that Closed Doors To Open Plains deals with all of us striving for more power, more money, and more recognition regardless of those who stay on track. We seem to become blind to all the beauty of this world compared to the wonders of life itself. We have forgotten to relax and to enjoy what nature has given us. On this planet we are the only living creatures who can change that and therefore, we should do so as individuals and as a society.
To underline this message you hear birds sing like a flute at the beginning and the end of the album. However, in the end somebody says 'are you kidding me?' In between you hear music probably influenced by Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. The music in the vein of Pink Floyd fills the largest part of this record. Especially the guitar parts sound clearly in the vein of those of David Gilmour. Listen for example to An Overture In My Head, Closing Doors and The Station At The Border Of The Mind and you'll know what I mean. However, also the vocals refer to the singing of Roger Waters and David Gilmour. Using spoken words, footsteps and other soundscapes made me think of Floyd either. The Hawkwind-like space rock is less obvious in the overall sound, but if you listen to songs like Expectations I, Bite The Bullet and Expectations II you'll catch my drift. Other influences can slightly be heard as well, but these don't come to the surface that much.
All those influences make of Closed Doors To Open Plains a very entertaining album. The full hour of music is worthwhile listening to and it perfectly fits to the concept. This means that this CD contains no weak tracks and therefore it's very easy to listen to this musical trip in one go! Summarizing, it's easy to recommend this album to fans of Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. They should at least give this album a try. I think they won't be disappointed; I certainly wasn't!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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