I want to take you back to the year 2011. Day Six toured as opening act for the band Threshold. I did not know Day Six yet and was wondering what kind of music the band made, could they convince me? I can tell you that I was completely blown away by Day Six, what a power and energy on the stage, especially the expression of vocalist and guitar player Robbie van Stiphout. Yep, Day Six had a new fan....
For the new record I had to have patience for a long period. After the album The Grand Design in 2010 keyboard player Dolf van Heugten and bass player Nick Verstappen left the band in 2011. In the end the wait for the new record took seven years. In the meantime I listened a lot to their albums Eternal Dignity, released in 2003 and The Grand Design. Both albums inspired me a lot because of the wide variety of musical influences, never a dull moment. Still the albums are playing their rounds in the music player. My expectations for this third album, Solitary League, are sky high. In the meantime the line-up is complete again and is as follows: Robbie van Stiphout on guitars and vocals, Daan Liebregts on drums, Rutger Vlek on keyboards and Eric Smits on bass guitar. The big question is: Is there still a place for the music of Day Six anno 2017? Have patience, I will answer this question at the end of this review.
The music of Day Six is not easy to categorize. Looking to the whole album Solitary League it is a really alternating album. Whatever directions you think the music can go to, yep, it will happen, from quiet laid-back music to heavy progmetal, from jazzy to intricately intertwined prog, from quiet to heavy in only a few seconds and so I can go on for a while. This is also true of Robbie's vocals, one moment sounding relaxed and then very emotional, fantastic! All band members are doing a stunning job excellently, they do have great control of their instruments.
If I have to limit myself to the highlights of the album, all songs will pass because there is no weak number, really. I want to make an effort to describe some 'striking' things about the music.
The albums starts with a real powerful number, Hypervigilant. It is directly clear that the sound of Day Six has not gone in the past seven years. In almost five minutes everything you can imagine will pass in the music, from quiet keyboard intro to tight guitar riff, from melodious to danceable, from good teamwork to a beautiful, compelling, long guitar solo. The first track is a promise for the rest of the album!
The longest song of the album, Myriad Scars, is a really proggy number. Everything that happens in this song is really too much to mention, a real musical rollercoaster. The almost ten minutes are over before you can imagine, very clever instrumental passages, there is room for everyone.
The title Math's Patterns is rightly chosen, a lot of tempo changes and you are regularly misled, good job! Robbie sings the stars of heaven and you feel the pain that the lyrics evoke.
The Cloud is an ode to Pink Floyd. It could have been a bonus number on the Animals album. Very well done.
The closing track, Modern Solitude, reminds me of Dream Theater's Space Dye Vest or Disappear atmosphere. Feel the emotion, you are immersed in it. After this number you will stay behind in your own'solitude', how special is that.
All-in all, Solitary League is a grower. After the first laps I was a bit disappointed, but could not really explain why. Since then, the album has made about twenty turn rounds and it really took me away. The musicians are very similar to each other, there is room for all instruments, it reinvents many music streams and there is plenty of room for emotion. I really hope the fourth album will not take another seven years, I simply cannot handle that.
****+ Michel Stolk
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