Iamthemorning are certainly no strangers in the progressive rock scene. The Russian duo, comprising of virtuoso classical pianist Gleb Kolyadin and charismatic vocalist Marjana Semkina are releasing their new album, entitled The Bell, this year. Their fourth since they formed the band in 2010 in St Petersburg. It took them a little bit longer to record a successor for Lighthouse (2016, see review), because Kolyadin came with a solo album (titled Gleb Kolyadin, see review) last year.
According to Semkina the ten songs of the album, each tell a story. Furthermore she tells that The Bell is divided into two parts, but each song is a proprietary story. All of them are fuelled by human cruelty and pain caused by it. If I liked those stories is difficult to tell. Because you certainly have to be in the mood for mellow music. For people who like their progressive rock music with up tempo parts can avoid all of the bands earlier releases. As far as this release is concerned, it is easy to say that the two musicians did not change their musical style at all. However, when I first heard the opening piece Freak Show, I was a bit surprised and had hoped they would include more up tempo parts with heavy guitars. Yes indeed I heard beautiful fast musical parts which made my feet start jumping around. But unfortunately it was only for a very short moment and only on this track. Well I heard sometimes beautiful piano parts which brought the tempo a little bit faster than normally on the bands compositions. Good examples are tracks such as Lillies and Salute. Here Gleb shows why I referred to him earlier as a virtuoso classical pianist. I have to mention as well that the last mentioned piece also includes fine up tempo drum parts done by Evan Carson and an excellent guitar solo performed by Vlad Avy. The musician who was also responsible for engineering and mastering the album.
Many people already compared the vocal parts of Marjana to those of Kate Bush and Tori Amos. And with piano to accompany her vocal parts the link to both acts are easily made. However I have to say that the vocals of Semkina are very limited compared to the way Bush and Amos sing on their albums. It's too bad that she doesn't sing in an aggressive way. Throughout the whole album she sings too much the same way. Too sweet like an angel and never dares to go over the edge music wise. I guess it's just the way she choose to sing their songs. And of course many people love it the way she does it on each Iamthemorning album released. But for myself, a little bit more power and up tempo would work for me. And above all a bit more aggression in the music wouldn't harm at all.
As for all fans of Iamthemorning this new album is certainly a release worth buying. Why? Because it contains all the ingredients which can be heard on their previous albums. As mentioned they didn't radically change their musical style and I don't see it happening on short notice. That's good news of course for their fans. They can buy The Bell without even listening first! Musical highlights Freak Show, Lillies and Salute.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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