The Anabasis is a progressive rock studio project formed by two Americans: multi-instrumentalist Barry Thompson, who wrote all the music and plays guitar, bass and keyboards, and freelance writer and author George Andrade, who wrote all the lyrics. Barry asked if George would write a story including the ancient history of mankind. This resulted in the concept for the album Back From Being Gone. After that some talented musicians from all over the world were invited to participate in this project. Right from the start their goal was to provide a basic framework for the songs and then to allow the musicians to play their parts with their own style and sound.
Another key member of The Anabasis project is the internationally renowned virtuoso musician Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard, K2) being the primary keyboardist and arranger. The number of musicians that realized Back From Being Gone is pretty long, but amongst others it features lead vocalist Per Fredrik 'PelleK' Åsly (Damnation Angels), drummer Gerald 'Mully' Mulligan (Lee Abraham Band), singer Gordon Tittsworth (Images Of Eden, All Too Human), guitarists Stefan Artwin (Relocator) and Brick Williams (Hourglass) and last but not least bass player, producer and mixer Lee Abraham (ex- Galahad, Lee Abraham Band).
Back From Being Gone is a concept album anchored by a suite of epic pieces called The Anabasis Suite. The songs of this suite are based upon three great ancient civilizations namely the Romans, the Norse and the Egyptians. It not only tells the story, but also comments on the selfish actions of 'simple men thrown upon the stage of history' and affected the lives of the people living under their rule along the malls, the fjords or the Nile. During this process Barry and George hoped to succeed in letting us look into the mirror of our own lives, the microcosm, and our relationships with our respective societies and governments, the macrocosm.
When you listen to the music on this album you'll discover that Mr. Thompson has been influenced by bands as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dream Theater, Spock's Beard and Black Sabbath. However, he very well managed to find a balance between the metal-orientated songs and the progressive rock orientated material. The lead vocals and the aggressive guitar parts are mainly responsible for the connection with metal or hard rock. Due to the strong keyboard playing the music tends more to the type of music I prefer the most: progressive rock. It's mainly the way Okumoto shows his talents on the piano and synthesizers that made this release very enjoyable for me. Throughout the album it's a delight to listen to his playing.
Most of the songs are very high-leveled. The compositions are well-written with both up-tempo parts and mellow passages. By doing so you never get the feeling that all tracks sound alike or that the music babbles on without any variety. You might say that in the last track Egypt all elements come together thus featuring the finest musical moments. The almost 24 minutes of music never have a dull moment. It remains entertaining and fascinating until its dying seconds.
After listening to Back From Being Gone several times it was easy to conclude that especially lovers of prog metal will find something here that will suit them. However, I would like to advise people who fancy Spock's Beard to give this album a try since Mr. Okumoto is at his best on this album. If you don't like prog metal, I'm afraid The Anabasis isn't your cup of tea!
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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