I am familiar with the first four albums (between 2004 and 2009) by this Canadian prog band, but then I lost Red Sand. So this is my first musical encounter with Red Sand after more than 10 years, the new album Crush The Seed is from 2020, the precursor FoRsAkEn was released in 2019. On this new effort I notice that Red Sand still make simply structured prog with the focus on colouring the music with wonderful work on guitar and keyboards done by band leader Simon Caron, who was also responsible for the bass parts this time around. Singer Steff Dorval is with the band since the second album, he has a distinctive voice, very intense and with a strong melancholy undertone. Finally I have to mention that Perry Angelillo can be found behind the drums.
After the short and compelling opener Crush The Seed Part 1 (with a beautiful blend of twanging acoustic guitar, Mellotron choirs, moving electric guitar with howling runs and dramatic vocals) the next mid-long track sounds like an inspired tribute to Shine On You Crazy Diamond (reminding me of German prog legend Eloy on Silent Cries, Mighty Echoes), the guitar player turns into the second coming of David Gilmour!
The other mid-long track in the first part of this album entitled Human Claim also has obvious Pink Floyd hints (but more Eighties) featuring Fender electric piano, lush Hammond organ, harder-edged guitar and emotional vocals, the moods shift from dreamy to a catchy beat. The compositions Crush The Seed Part 2 (Mellotrons) and Crush The Seed part 3 (halfway an accellaration with heavy guitar) deliver wonderful interplay between piano and moving electric guitar, this is a typical trademark of Red Sand. In the second part Red Sand sounds more like early Marillion, especially in the epic Woman (over 17 minutes), the highlight on this new album, and also the most elaborate composition. It starts with a mid-tempo featuring fiery guitar runs (like Steve Rothery, with use of the tremolo arm), delicate Fender piano and melancholy vocals. Then the music turns into bombastic with majestic Mellotron choirs and powerful emotional vocals (this is how I remember early Red Sand). Next an explosive guitar solo with volume pedal and tremolo arm, in the vein of Rothery and Gilmour, later again joined by that awesome Mellotron choir sound, Red Sand at its full splendor, mighty Trons and howling guitar, wow! In the second part lots of flowing shifting moods and some surprising musical ideas. The conclusion delivers a compelling atmosphere with howling guitar, again this is the band at its full splendor. The bonus track Dust And Hope contains a slow rhythm, wonderfully coloured by moving guitar and a pleasant Hammond sound and topped with mellow vocals.
The Red Sand fans will not be disappointed by this new album, and I had another pleasant musical encounter with Red Sand, no more or less.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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