World War I (WWI or WW1 or World War One), also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war, centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the war, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents' technological and industrial sophistication, and tactical stalemate. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved. Now, one century later the British band Freedom To Glide paid tribute to the fallen soldiers in this meaningless war, by releasing their first full album titled Rain. A concept album about war and conflicts around the world in general!
Those who read the reviews on this website know that this album was not the first musical effort by Freedom To Glide. Founding members Andy Nixon (vocals, guitars, bass, programming) and Pete Riley (piano, synthesizers, organ), both members of the British Pink Floyd tribute band Dark Side Of The Wall, already gave off a musical signal to the world in 2011. They did this by releasing the Rain EP (see review). It was a kind of musical taster for what they were working on together. On this three-track EP Pete Riley and Andy Nixon sounded, most of all, like Pink Floyd. One year later they came up with the follow-up release The Wait (see review). Another sign to let everybody know how far they'd progressed in releasing their lifetime achievement. Just like on their debut, they recorded a professional product once again that made me curious about their first fully-fledged album. Again, this British duo made their mark on the world of progressive rock with this six-track album.
I was really glad Rain finally arrived, because I had waited for this album way too long. Their earlier releases indicated that I certainly had something to look forward to. Well, they didn't let me down, that's for sure. Rain grabbed me by the throat right from the start. Although some of the songs on this 15-track release were not new to me, I couldn't resist to label them all as high quality progressive rock tunes and, as I mentioned before, most of all related to the music made by Pink Floyd. The first three songs were taken from the Rain EP. In my review of this EP, I already mentioned that the title track was inspired by the story of a Corporal Robert Wilson. His experiences in WWI sowed the seeds for the album which has evolved into a compelling and sometimes personal journey through a century of war, and the consequences that affect us all. It's also a song about the soldiers in WWI falling like rain on the battlefield. You probably remember I wrote that musically, Rain, part 1 sounds like a combination of the Floyd-tracks Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Run Like Hell and foremost Great Gig In The Sky, because of the strong vocal contributions from Francesca Genco. That not every song is related to the music of Pink Floyd comes to the surface right away on the second piece of music. Anywhere Else But Here could have been influenced by the Gaelic sound of bands like Clannad and Iona. The same goes for the third track Path Of Reason. Again, no Floydian style of music, but music-wise more related to a band like Porcupine Tree. After the songs from the EP end, the following songs walk the same musical path very well, and bring out a very high level of musicianship. Well, I am not going to mention each and every track, but I can point out some of them, because they bring out some extra surprises, such as the fabulous Price Of Freedom, on which the beautiful Irish music can be heard again and is wonderfully mixed with Dave Gilmour- like sounding guitar parts. Rain (Part 2) is again such a track that should be mentioned. The radio fragments at the start bring you back to the times when Germany ruled the world very well. Rain (Part 4) is also a song that really grabbed me by the throat all the way; especially the contribution of the Elation Community Voices Choir impressed me a lot! Or what about the beautifully orchestral sounding Home Again with some spoken parts and excellent acoustic guitar work. The contribution of Stephen Bell on the trumpet on One Hundred And Twenty is excellent as well, and made me think of the Last Post; the traditional final salute to the fallen.
Well, words can hardly describe what Riley and Nixon achieved on Rain. The way they explained the useless wars around the world throughout the last one hundred years in music, is something that couldn't have been done any better by anyone else. Therefore I can only be positive about this true masterpiece. A masterpiece that can easily be compared to Pink Floyd's albums like The Wall (1979), Wish You Were Here (1975) and Dark Side Of The Moon(1973), so the awarded highest score of five stars is certainly in place and well deserved!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)
Where to buy?