Pictorial Wand -
Face Of Our Fathers

(CD 2009, 67:47, Unicorn Digital)

The tracks:
  1- The Wasteland(11:12)
  2- Struggle Of Autumn Leaves(8:41)
  3- Prince Of War(8:19)
  4- The Ghosts Start Dancing(11:44)
  5- Verse Of Despair(6:10)
  6- Face Of Our Fathers(9:33)
  7- Circle's End(12:05)

Pictorial Wand Website        samples        Unicorn Records

Pictorial Wand is a Norwegian rock opera project. It’s the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Mattis Sorum, who plays all guitars and bass parts and most of the keyboards. A Sleeper’s Awakening, the debut double-album of Pictorial Wand, was nominated for several awards just after its release. Now Sorum recorded a second rock opera Face Of Our Fathers, but he cut down the number of characters to only four sung by Tore Christer Storlid (Hope), Gry Tronslien (Love), Julie Christensen (Reason) and Petter Selliseth (Pride). The other musicians on this album are Arild Sveum (piano, organ), Tomas Di Sansimone, who provides the album with some very tasteful drums, Gunhild Olaussen (violins), Live Kostöl (cellos) and Hogne Moe (flute).

Pictorial Wand’s music can be compared to Ayreon and Avantasia, especially in the way the songs have been built up and the many different characters that participate. Well, this album gives a better overview than the many characters that were involved in Ayreon’s latest production. Smart move here! Listening to the long and interesting opening epic The Wasteland, I think that people who like Into The Electric Castle by Ayreon can appreciate this one. All vocalists have their own recognizable touch which makes it easy to distinguish between the four characters. Struggle Of Autumn Leaves is a relaxed and slower progressive rock song proving that Mattis Sorum is a great composer. He definitely gives this song its own identity, that is, the Pictorial Wand-style. The majestic vocals of Tore Christer Storlid deserve special attention in this great song. In Prince Of War, Sorum shows how to play guitar with much expression and emotion in one single guitar part. In the parts where the violin is mixed in the front, this song reminds me a bit of Kansas. The opening acoustic and electric twin guitars in The Ghosts Start Dancing, reminds me of the old Wishbone Ash, but when the electric guitar ceases and the acoustic guitar gets company of a beautiful female voice, that resemblance no longer exists. For me, all the additional tasteful instruments make this the best song of the album. Hats off for this track! The album continues with Verse Of Despair, a magnificent song with very emotional vocals, great guitar riffs and a tasteful, clear and wonderful sounding guitar solo. Back and forth from emotion to power; this is a treat for my ears. The title track is a nine and a half minute epic, starting with piano on top of an organ, changing to a fine guitar riff with powerful vocals. We hear emotional and expressive vocals that lead to a heavy climax of this perfectly built-up song. The final song Circle’s End is again very strong. It gives all musicians the opportunity to showcase their qualities for the last time. The heavy cellos, the compact flute solo and the great violin parts make this album a statement for the future: Pictorial Wand has made a brilliant album and they’re here to stay.

After a great first album Pictorial Wand produced an even better second one. People who like the aforementioned bands surely will love this Norwegian masterpiece. A very clear production, all instruments and vocalists are mixed perfectly and still have their own particular sound. I love this one!

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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