After a hiatus of 33 years Dutch symphonic rock band, I Spy are back and the title of their new double album is While The War Began. I Spy, hailing from Groningen, released their debut The Crystal Fire in 1988 and their follow up Kite two years later. The band nowadays consists of Peter Duinkerken (keyboards), Harrie Poelman (bass), Aernout Steegstra (vocals), Coos Grevelink (drums) and Erik Westerhof (guitars).
While The War Began consists of four long tracks and the music of, I Spy is obviously inspired by prog rock bands like Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull, but also by neo prog bands like IQ, Egdon Heath and Big Big Train.
Opening epic Unforgotten, consisting of five parts, opens very quietly with guitar sounds and the typical voice of Aernout Steegstra, which is a kind of love or hate voice actually... The song is also packed with horns and strings, it is extremely diverse, melodic and 100% pure symphonic rock indeed. Fearless, consisting of seven parts, truly reminds me of the good old Genesis and it also features a lot of horns: in fact, a bit too much in my humble opinion. The second CD is clearly much darker and more melancholic with the songs War and Odyssey and especially War features again too much wind-instrument passages and it has also some true Big Big Train musical elements. Last but not least you can enjoy Odyssey; a traditional symphonic track packed with impressive melodies and musical twists and turns.
A great ending to this epic, energetic, intimate album which is an album that you should really listen to with headphones and then you can enjoy the dreamlike atmosphere of While The War Began at its best.
***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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