When insiders look at the summary The Manic Street Preachers, The Alarm, Stereophonics, they immediately will find a connection. The connection is Wales, UK. 25 Yard Screamer is also from Wales. This neo progressive band was founded in 2002 and their debut album The Pictures Within saw the light in 2003. That album was an interesting one and it scored high in many reviews. Natural Satellite is their seventh studio album and I must say that my expectations were rather high.
25 Yard Screamer has the following line up: Nick James (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards), Matt Clarke (bass) and Donal Owen (drums). On this album the following additional musicians participate: Rob Reed (keyboards), Jeff Rees (lead guitar on track 6), Abbi James (backing vocals, spoken word) and Aled Bryn Pennock (spoken word).
The first track on the album is The Storyteller. The track starts as can be expected from the band. The intro has dark atmospheres and soundscapes. Immediately you can draw the conclusion that the mixing and recording sounds good. It sounds open and beside that also very clear. That's what I personally like in productions of an album. As always 25 Yard Screamer fits perfectly in the catalog of the neo progressive rock. The 8 minute opening song has a threating atmosphere. The kick off couldn't be better in my opinion.
The opening track resolves perfectly in the second track Devastate. Devastate is also a track with dark atmospheres. It also lingers on in a mid-tempo speed. The chorus is one that easily gets into your head and will stay there for a while. In my opinion 25 Yard Screamer always uses some New Wave influences in their songs. In particular it reminds me of the darkness of for example The Cure.
After the second track the album slightly fades away into an average mode. The first two tracks are the highlights of the album. The rest of the tracks are unfortunately far beyond that level. To me it looks like these tracks are missing something. They sound rather monotone and don't have the tension that they should have to amuse the average listener.
The Listening Rising is a mid-tempo lingering track. It sounds dark once more but misses the tension and variety. A Space Where Someone Should Be contains lots of space atmospheric soundclouds and in general it sounds darker than all the other tracks. Most of the themes are stretched and maybe they should be shorter.
While We Are starts a little bit Radiohead-like. But after a short intro it develops into a song with not enough adventure to be interesting.
Never In The Detail is a track that start heavy. But after ten seconds it lingers on in the known tempo and the known atmospheres. The song doesn't distinguish itself from the rest. And that is probably the main problem of this album. A lot of tracks are more or less similar and don't have any variation.
The fourteen minute Coda Jeremiah is the closing track of the album. Luckily it gets a little better at the end. This song at least has some tension and variation. But this isn't enough to bend my overall conclusion very positive.
Because of the fact that the first two tracks are rather good, I will give this album 2,5 out of 5.
Hopefully the next release of 25 Yard Screamer will reach the quality from the previous ones.
**+ Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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