As a phoenix, risen from the past, Dutch progressive rock band Dilemma returns from a six years silence to release a new album under the title Random Acts Of Liberation. Both founder and initiator; keyboard player Robin Z (Zuiderveld) and drummer, producer and more; Colin Leijenaar (Kayak, Affector, Neal Morse) are still present. The line-up is completed by the newcomers; British vocalist and guitar player Dec Burke, known from his participation in Frost*, Audioplasik and for his solo work, guitarist Paul Crezee and bass player Erik van der Vlist.
After a number of listening sessions, I think the album certainly has a very positive vibe, a dedicated progressive rock touch, but on the other hand, also a very poppy side. When you listen to the album's opener; The Space Between The Waves, you are treated to a solid progressive rock song, filled with catchy hooks, a fine technical, progressive interaction between both keyboards and guitars and very accessible vocals by Dec. A great start, light and still progressive rock. When Amsterdam kicks in, you will get to know Dec's strong points, if you were not aware of his abilities. A bit more poppy this time and certainly referring to Steven Wilson at certain points, during his vocal parts. More spherical is the continuing Aether, Colin's fine drum patterns are the base for this atmospheric track where Paul Crezee lays down a solid Pink Floyd kind of solo over delicate keyboards. After the first few tracks there is another influence I come to notice, some of the compositions are kind of inspired by the eighties melodic, electronic progressive scene. So, All That Matters certainly has this vibe, a classic rock touch, very accessible and pop influenced. Luckily the over twelve minutes lasting track; The Inner Darkness, takes the album back to the progressiveness we all appreciate so much. For me, by far the most impressive composition on the album. All the fine progressive rock elements are fused together in these twelve minutes. Talking of highlights, you should really checkout the minimalistic Dear Brian; just vocals, an acoustic guitar and a cello. Absolute brilliant. With Prodigal Son, the electronic, accessible eighties return. Although the composition is a solid one, listening to this one after both previous tracks, doesn't do justice to this song. Dark, different, but still very suitable to the other tracks is the powerful Pseudocomaphobia, filled with great keyboard parts and a nice distorted bass. Supported by Colin's heavy drum patterns. Spiral Pt. II is a short atmospheric interlude, highlighting Robin's piano combined with sounds from movie scenes. Openly, again is a super solid progressive tune; great guitar parts and haunting keyboards are the base for this slightly more heavy progressive track. Intervals highlights Dec's vocal parts again, although the vocals are a mix of pop and prog, the guitar solo definitely takes this song towards the prog side of Dilemma. Electronics meets heavy prog with dedicated vocals during Play With Sand, fine and solid, Colin's double bass parts nicely blend in with Paul's furious guitar and Robin's beds of keyboards. Although there is a twelve minute lasting song on the album, I think Wonder is the album's epic track; great guitar parts, dominant background vocals and fine drum patterns define this fine six minute song. The Mist Of Vale is perhaps not the best chosen way to end an album, I prefer to go out with a bang, but the spherical sounds that The Mist Of Vale is doesn't really add anything in my opinion.
In the end it's good the see/ hear Dilemma is back in the scene. In Dec Burke they have a very good vocalist, who suits the band's music. The songs on Random Acts Of Liberation represent both the progressive rock side as well as a more pop oriented side of music. But this last side of music has been done incredibly well and the combined result is a good one. So, if you are in for progressive rock with some fine accessible touches, You certainly will enjoy the resurrection of Dilemma.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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