While listening to Afterglow, the opening track from Sparrows, my prog heart beat a bit faster. This track shows that the music of the Dutch Barstool Philosophers, has everything to please people who are interested in progressive rock music with metal influences. On Afterglow, I heard influences from bands as Saga and Queensr˙che. Lead singer Leon Brouwer has a fantastic voice reminiscent of the former Saga-singer Michael Sadler and Geoff Tate. Just like Geoff Tate in the early years, he has no problem at all singing in the high regions.
For Sparrows, the band not only recorded up-tempo tracks. Variety is a good thing; otherwise, you might decide to disrupt a CD before it has ended. On Lies, Mr. Brouwer screams his heart out accompanied by René Kroon on acoustic piano and string synthesizers. Dreamscape is another example of a very good sounding slow song, but this time all band members participate and the pace is a bit faster than on Lies. Like many other progressive rock albums, Sparrows is a concept album telling a story about the pain one feels after a divorce. That happened to singer Leon Brouwer. It was a very difficult period in his life, but his emotions, feelings and thoughts deriving from this sad event made him sing the lyrics with a lot of passion. The compositions combined with the lyrics make this album a strong musical concept. I couldnt find any weak spot at all on this fine album. You can hear that all band members played in several other bands before they joined forces to make The Barstool Philosophers a strong musical unit. They must have learned a lot from their mistakes in the past. I hope we can enjoy more strong releases of this band in the future.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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