The new Dutch progressive rock band Pennyís Twisted Flavour started about two years ago and recently released their debut album Sketches. This CD contains a very impressive collection of songs, technically at a very high standard and influenced by bands like Dream Theater and Genesis, as they say themselves. Well, I get the Dream Theater link, but the Genesis connection is hard to find in my opinion. Personally, I would like to add some influences of Spockís Beard, Shadow Gallery and even Threshold. The band consists of Marc Mes (vocals), Mark Bogert (guitars), Wendy Heuvelmans (keyboards) and the brothers Matthijs Kieboom (bass guitar) and Harmen Kieboom (drums). As a friend Ton Scherpenzeel, well-known from Kayak and Camel, participated as a guest musician on Sketches.
The instrumental opener Pennyís Twist represents the contents of the album: complex, virtuoso craftsmanship, changing of moods and tasteful arrangements. When Marc Mes starts to sing on Inside he reminds me of Russell Allen (Symphony X), but also of Kansas. However, strangely enough I donít know exactly what it is that causes that resemblance; itís just there. Anyway, Inside is a nice and heavy prog song with some fine guitars that stand out. The entire album has a great diversity in keyboard playing, but I donít know to what extent this is due to the influence of Ton Scherpenzeel. Falling for instance, has many layers of keyboards with heavy guitars on top, which make this piece a treat to listen to. Forgotten Words is an almost acoustic ballad, relaxed, full of emotion and just a moment of rest on the album. A stunning riff marks the epic A Way Out, which has a nice aggressive touch with a contrasting solo part: relaxed, but waiting to go full speed ahead. Wasting Time has some massive bass and guitar melodies, fine keyboards, some of the best vocal lines of the album and great variety. In Dying Dream youíll hear fantastic, bombastic symphonic keyboards over a heavy pounding bass and rolling double bass drums. Itís getting emotional in What We Become, a marvelous ballad-like epic with an excellent guitar solo and again many keyboards. The 8-minute track Motion sounds like Dream Theater with some hints of Kansas. This is a nice, long, moody and very progressive piece. More impressive craftsmanship in the albumís final and second instrumental piece Back Home, which gives all musicians the opportunity to show their skills.
Pennyís Twisted Flavourís music is like good whisky: sit back and relax, sip it and let all the flavours do their job. By releasing Sketches, Iím sure this band will find its way to international acclaim. They have all the potentials, they write great songs and they have proven to be real professionals on their instruments. This splendid album Sketches is only the beginning: the worldís waiting for you!
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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