About fifteen years ago, I was surprised that all of a sudden several excellent progressive rock bands from Poland, a rather unknown East-European country as far as progressive rock music is concerned, invaded The Netherlands. Bands like Collage, Quidam and Abraxas recorded some extreme good albums and performed more than once in the Dutch venues. Unfortunately, probably because of lack of international success, most bands split up soon after and so did Abraxas. However Adam Lassa, the voice of Abraxas, is now back with a new band called Ananke. Together with his musical buddies Krzystof Pacholskin (keyboards), Karol Szolz (guitars), Bartek Stys (bass) and Viktor Wyka (drums, percussion) he created his first album Malachity.
The musical style of Ananke is modern progressive symphonic rock in the vein of the contemporary music of Marillion and their Norwegian friends of Gazpacho. So after listening to this album a number of times, I have to conclude that all songs on Malachity are more or less interesting also caused by the rather curious Polish language - for Dutch ears that is. To me, it's a bit of abacadabra, so I've got no idea where all the lyrics are about. This time I only needed to concentrate on the music without paying attention to the lyrics.
Opening song Wysted is quite surprising with all kinds of flashy solos, but that's one of the reasons I like progressive rock. Second song Amidalla has some interesting piano and bass parts and a beautiful melody line. Ananka knows how to create a three-minute song. Perfumy is another fine piece with the piano and the guitar duelling all the time. Prana is a good example of the musical qualities of the band. In this song a heavy guitar riff is followed by Adam Lassa's melodic voice. For me, the longest track Asyz is the highlight of this album. It sounds rather dark and this time I realized that it's a pity that I don't understand the Polish language. In the background you can enjoy an excellent guitar solo of Karol Szolz in the vein of Steve Rothery's early-Marillion. The middle-section is striking and distinctive; play this one loud and listen to it carefully and you will enjoy it. Next song Akasha is a ballad and again well-played by the whole band. Without forcing his voice Adam Lassa easily reaches the higher notes. Latawce and Talisman are both written in a medium tempo and Mojra is the final jewel of this album. The slow drum pace is wonderfully supported by the dreamy synth and guitar sounds. The bombastic ending is the final surprise of this very enjoyable album.
Malachity is a fine debut album of this new Polish band. Hopefully Ananke is not another one-shot band. I would like to hear more of this band in the near future.
**** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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