Airbag -
The Century Of The Self

(CD 2024, 46:59, Karisma Records)

The tracks:
  1- Dysphoria(10:38)
  2- Tyrants and Kings(6:47)
  3- Awakening(6:44)
  4- Erase(7:50)
  5- Tear It Down(15:00)

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Four years ago I "rewarded" the Norwegian prog band Airbag with five stars for their awesome album A Day At The Beach (see review) and now Bjorn Riis (guitars, keys, bass guitar and backing vocals), Asle Tostrup (vocals, keys) and Henrik Fossum (drums) return with a brand new album called The Century Of The Self.

This album features five tracks, all recorded and produced between May 2022 and January 2024. The question of course is, is The Century Of The Self as good as its predecessor.... And after a couple of thorough spins I, sad but true, have to say that this new Airbag album is slightly disappointing. Now, why am I disappointed; I loved their previous album, as it was packed with awesome, breathtaking guitar solos and that typical Pink Floyd sounding prog rock style! However, this album sounds almost exactly like their last three albums - only not as good - meaning that Airbag has not really progressed and especially their vocal melodies are getting more "boring" and uninteresting indeed.

Still, there is also some good music to enjoy on The Century Of The Self as Airbag - read Bjorn Riis - has its moments of brilliance, like for example in Tyrants And Kings, where you can enjoy a virtuoso lead guitar solo indeed. Opening track Dysphoria features a strong guitar melody but the song sometimes "drags on" far too long, while the soaring guitar solo in the end is again wonderful. Awakening is the ballad of this album and Erase is "dominated" by a thunderous bass hook. Airbag ends this album with the epic Tear It Down, which clocks in at fifteen minutes, and it is a very decent prog rock song indeed, but these guys have played/composed better epic ones (Into The Unknown, Disconnected or Surveillance PTs 2-3) for sure, as Tear It Down is a very dark and atmospheric track without the breathtaking guitar solos I was expecting.

So, The Century Of The Self is not their most original-sounding album indeed but it still is a treat for everybody's prog ears and mind, featuring lots, but not enough, of emotional guitar solos and therefore still highly recommended as Airbag's music can still move you very deeply.

***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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