Reviewing CD's for Background Magazine sometimes takes you to the edges of progressive music, but the album League Of Lights goes beyond the definition of progressive rock. So why a review, you might ask? The answer is easy. When some great names in progressive rock like to do something other than the expected music, I am curious what the result would be. League Of Lights is the brainchild of Threshold keyboard player Richard West and his wife Farrah, who is the vocalist on this band project. Other instrumentalists who were invited to play are Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation, For All We Know (see review), Maiden United and Damian Wilson), ex Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder and bass player Jerry Meehan, who got his fame from his work with Robbie Williams and Bryan Ferry. Reason enough for a review, I guess.
Musically League Of Lights is a melodic rock band with references to the pop music of the eighties, but the orchestrated keyboards still have a progressive touch. I'm Alive is the opening song of the album and the killer riff sounds very promising, but when the vocals start the atmosphere changes into AOR. Farrah's vocals are very pleasant to listen to, relaxed and never shouting or over the top like a combination of Kim Wilde and the lighter parts of Lana Lane. The orchestrated parts have a slight Within Temptation feeling over them (listen to the intro of Cover Me Now or Ambertown) but the music that follows is too different to compare to this Dutch band. Last Sunset is an epic ballad, which grows from electronic drums to a powerful crescendo, in the same line as the song Don't Leave Me Behind. Cool Of The Day is almost a piano ballad, the combination of the dark and moody piano and Farrah's voice works perfectly. My personal highlight of the album is the last song on the album, Heaven Sent A Star, which has a lot of power, majestic keyboards, nice heavy guitars and a double bass drum.
As expected the majority of the songs are keyboard orientated, melodic and radio friendly. It is nice to hear some progressive rock musicians cover a different side of the music we are used to hearing them in. The result is a very solid album; Farrah has a beautiful voice, which suits perfectly this kind of music. Richard plays quite different than he does in Threshold- here the keyboards are much more orchestrated and piano minded, which I think sound great. The instrumentalists do a great job. Ruud lays down some nice guitar lines and the rhythm section is steady but not over present.
League Of Lights is a nice album you can play to people who always nag you about the complicated music you normally play; a perfect melodic album.
***+Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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