In 2008 the Polish band Millenium recorded their latest studio album Exist (see review). After a short period of silence they returned with a couple of live albums. Back After Years was released on double-CD (see review) and on DVD (see review), but these were not the only albums that recently appeared. They reissued two older albums as well: Numbers And The Big Dream Of Mr. Sunders (see review) and Reincarnations (see review). In addition the album White Crow (see review) was released, containing principally previously unreleased songs. However, most people were waiting for a brand new studio album that would make clear how the band had developed in recent years.
Well, after waiting more than three years we can finally take note whether the band had changed their musical direction or not. Could they once again come up with an album containing their typical style of prog rock including elements of the music recorded by bands as Pink Floyd and Marillion? That question isn't very difficult to answer, because the double album Puzzles contains everything that you already could enjoy on their previous releases. So
once again the influences of the aforementioned bands are clearly present, but this time they treated their fans to a real concept album recorded by the original line-up consisting of Lukasz Gall (vocals), Tomasz Pasko (drums), Krzysztof Wyrwa (bass, Warr-guitar), Piotr Plonka (guitars) and Ryszard Kramarski (keyboards).
Puzzles deals with the complicated man-woman relationship, with characteristics like love, doubt, persistence and hope. In fact the concept is about Adam and Eve, two symbolic creatures living in two different worlds: in the present and in the Garden of Eden. In fact it is the story of us all. To create a good and long-lasting relationship you need persistence, patience, intelligence, awareness and determination. These are the same qualities you need to solve a jigsaw puzzle. The band use a jigsaw puzzle as a metaphor for this relationship: w hen correctly solved it brings satisfaction and fulfillment.
Puzzles is a double album containing fourteen tracks in an exclusive digipack. It's Millenium's tribute to albums as The Wall (Pink Floyd), The White Album (The Beatles), The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Genesis) and Freudiana (Eric Woolfson). All these albums had white covers and were released as a double album except for Freudiana. This becomes clear when you look at the cover of Puzzles which is strongly related to the artwork of The Wall. Also music wise you'll hear many references to these albums. Most striking are the influences of Pink Floyd throughout the album. Especially the excellent David Gilmour- like guitar work of Piotr Plonka is responsible for this comparison. Many times you can dream away on his perfect guitar solos. However, he can perfectly handle the acoustic guitar as well.
The lead vocals of Lukasz Gall are outstanding. He's able to use his voice in many ways; sometimes soft and tender, at other times aggressive or rough when the story needs it. Although the music for this album was written by keyboard player Ryszard Kramarski, his keyboards are not as dominant as Plonka's electric guitar, but yet he's present all the time with his acoustic piano, string synthesizer or organ parts over which Plonka can do his tricks. Sure the album can't compete with the above-mentioned classic albums, but this doesn't mean that Puzzles is less interesting. Songs like The Sin, Broken Rule, Farewell, Puzzled, We Try Again and Our Little Eden are high-levelled and belong to the best songs the band has ever recorded. Especially Our Little Eden is an excellent piece thanks to the beautiful vocal contributions of guest singer Sabina Godula-Zajac.
Puzzles is a very positive return of Millenium. The band delivered a strong album which is especially enjoyable for fans of Pink Floyd and for people who like the early albums recorded by Marillion. So welcome back Millenium!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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