Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion (HFMC) have been together as a band since the release of their first album; Future Past (see review) in 2010. Although the band has a steady line up, bandleader, vocalist and guitar player Hasse Fröberg sees the new album Parallel Life as a fresh start with more focus on the arrangements and production. For the progressive rock aficionados who have not heard of HFMC here is some minor info. Back in 2010, The Flower Kings vocalist Hasse Fröberg launched his own band that would function alongside TFK. Since the beginning, his band members have consisted of drummer Ola Strandberg, bass player Thomsson, keyboard player Kjell Haraldsson and guitarist Anton Lindsjö. After their debut HFMC released Powerplay (see review) in 2012 and HFMC in 2015. In 2017, the band released a live CD/DVD called No Place Like Home.
Back to Parallel Life, which also is the name of the opener of the album, an over twenty minutes lasting progressive rock highlight, where during six segments it is explained how we (don't) handle the social media nowadays. This pure progressive rock epic is bursting with wonderful vocal parts as well as numerous interesting keyboard parts and solos and on top some powerful solos by Anton. Where I, when listening to TFK sometimes get distracted during a song, this twenty-minute HFMC track keeps me focussed from beginning to the end. An interesting composition is Time Waits, which has a bit of a retro feel. Very pronounced keyboard parts are accompanied by several brilliant guitar solos, while Hasse's vocals are emotional and intense. Talking about intense, check out the nine-minute lasting Rain. A song that features the best guitar solo of the album. With a jazz/blues feel Anton plays over some delicate keyboards and solid rhythm section. As a kind of contrast the following Friday is a perfect (hard) rocker. The albums final track, Never Alone is one of the epic style compositions, powerful parts and moody slower parts are perfectly in balance. Finishing the album in a very fine way.
When Hasse was talking about a fresh start I now see what he meant, the compositions have gained more depth and both keyboards as well as guitar parts have been worked out to perfection. During the album I was wondering which of those two instruments is standing out the most, but in the end it is the incredible solid and motivated guitar solo's that have done it for me. The icing of course is the beautiful voice of Hasse himself.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Dave Smith)
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