When I was asked by a friend to give my opinion about a new band, consisting of the guitar tech of Iron Maiden, I became very curious. Especially when he told me their music was as well heavy as progressive rock, I just needed to get my hands on the album. After contacting Eddie, a promo was sent my way. Nine Miles Down consists of vocalist, guitarist Andy Makin, who also sang in Adrian Smith's Psycho Motel and worked with Uriah Heep's Phil Lanzon. Guitarist Eddie Marsh, known from Intense, Lionheart and is now working for Iron Maiden. Last member is drummer Tom Williams, who also plays bass on the Fractures album. After the band recorded the album, the trio expanded to a quintet with bass player Adji and keyboard player Rob Wilsher.
Fractures turned out to be one of those albums that immediately grabbed me by the throat; musically right up my alley; interesting, great compositions and an amazing vocalist. Take the opener Mockingbird; where the first part sounds like Fates Warning with Ray Alder in his best period, but moving further into the song, the melodies and vocal lines become catchy and accessible, like someone shifted Fates Warning to another gear. As I wrote, the vocals, including the choirs are amazing, but also listen to the brilliant bass guitar that leads in the second part of the song, which highlight the guitar escapades of Eddie Marsh. All in all, a more than fantastic song. A nice and dirty riff enters Where We Belong. At first, the growls; Parkway Drive style, could indicate this song completely differs from the previous, but Andy's regular voice is already recognizable and defines Nine Miles Down musically. Personally I love the growls in combination with the normal voice, but I know not all prog fans agree with me on this one. Where We Belong is topped with an amazing guitar solo, one that could make Dave Murray blush. Nine Miles Down's progressive metal gains an alternative edge when we enter Faithless. Dead solid, great riffs, highlighting the solid groove machine that is Tom Williams, completing himself on drums as well on bass. Great vocal parts and down tuned guitars emphasize the even more powerful side of the band. Where I wrote about the more alternative side of music, that obviously entered during the previous composition, Beautiful Lie sees guitar riff that normally can be found in Alter Bridge, or better in Mark Tremonti's own band: Tremonti. It's only for the keyboard parts and musical style of soloing that make this one a true Nine Miles Down composition. The prominent use of keyboards and über cool massive guitar riffs, make Icarus a perfect progressive metal song. The smoother part in the middle, including a brilliant bass builds the tension and again the melodic vocals of Andy are everything this bands need to become the next big thing! Being so happy about the music I have heard so far, Long Way Down could not be able to top that, but no way, the incredible solid guitar does it for me; massive riffs, for the second time an occasional growl and great vocals take me to another high. All topped by again a fantastic guitar solo. The final track takes you back to highlighting the progressive side of the band. My Last Fire has everything to become the epic of the album, perfectly built, smooth passages, dirty riffs and great solo's and vocals.
After listening many times now, I cannot thank my friend enough for introducing me to Nine Miles Down. This band has all the ingredients to become the next big thing. Fractures is well produced and the music really comes to life when listening. I only can pay my respect to the band by granting them the highest score. Wow, speechless!!
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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