In the last couple of years several German bands impressed me with their records and they also reached high positions in my personal top-15 list of the year. In 2009 Martigan recorded their outstanding album Vision (see review). In 2010 Jack Yello made a stunning album with Xeric (see review) and 2011 marks the release of another excellent album made by a German band. Graffity's Rainbow by Shades Of Dawn contains the same kind of neo-progressive rock music as the above-mentioned albums. The band created a fabulous album which hardly contains weak spots. Graffity's Rainbow is the band's third album after their debut The Dawn Of Times (1998) and From Dusk Till Dawn (2005). As you can see the band takes quite some time to record a new album, but that's mainly due to problems on a personal level.
Before and after the release of Graffity's Rainbow the band again suffered serious problems. Drummer Chris Struwe got cancer, and he sadly died on June 6, 2011. In the meantime their excellent bass player Klaus Lohr left the band. Listening to Graffity's Rainbow makes clear how good these musicians were. Of course they weren't the only ones who did an excellent job. The other musicians responsible for this fine album are Hans-Jürgen Klein (guitars), Bernhard Marx (keyboards, saxophone) and Peter Schneider (keyboards, bass pedals). They were actually the reason that I kept playing this record over and over again; their tasteful solos were a real treat to me. However, it must be said that the band's weakest link are the vocals by Klein and Schneider. It's easy to hear that they're no natural singers. Therefore the band not only needs a new drummer and a bassist, but a new lead singer as well. When the vocal contributions would have been better I would certainly have given this release the highest possible rating of five stars.
All compositions are of a very high quality level and the musicians have a good feel for melody and drama. Especially the title track shows the craftsmanship of the musicians. On this epic piece, inspired by the novel Graffity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, you can hear that they're able to write excellent compositions. The keyboard intro is fantastic and throughout the remainder of the track the guitars and synthesizers are dominant. If you listen carefully to this piece you might recognize some familiar classical parts like Franz Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and The Great Gate Of Kiev by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky.
Unfortunately the vocals are detrimental to the compositions otherwise this album would have been a masterpiece. The band should work on the vocals for their next album. Hopefully they'll get a drummer and a bass player having the same musical skills as the musicians on this CD that is highly recommended to people who enjoy neo-progressive rock in the vein of Martigan, Jack Yello, Pallas, Pendragon and IQ.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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