The Netherlands have finally awoken! After two great releases this year, Day Six with The Grand Design (see review) and Pennyís Twisted Flavour with Sketches (review), hereís another new and sublime progressive rock album. In this case, itís the young band Sky Architect. After having seen them on the conservatory graduation concert of two of their members (see concert review) Ė which made a big impression on me Ė I was anxious to listen to their debut album Excavations Of The Mind. These young guys from the vicinity of Rotterdam have implemented the progressive rock sound from the seventies into the current symphonic progressive rock. And did they succeed? Yes, they did! By blending the original seventies sound with the heavier guitar-oriented bands like Pain Of Salvation, they created a unique sound.
While I write this review, Sky Architect are already working on a new album in Sweden. You might say these youngsters have a lot of inspiration that has to come out one way or another. But letís focus on this one first. Deep Chasm is the opening epic which is divided in four parts, starting with a bombastic instrumental intro that lasts for about three and a half minute. This already indicates the craftsmanship of the band. Rik van Honkís keyboards are responsible for the link with the seventies. They really sound great and in combination with Wabe Wieringaís guitar play, the original sound of Sky Architect was born. The other significant element is guitarist and lead vocalist Tom Luchies. His voice enters in the second part of the song. His singing gets a very special sound, especially when his voice gets doubled or when drummer Christiaan Bruin sings the second part. After a short part three that contains some fine piano play, part four returns to the previous parts with fantastic sounding keyboards, adventurous guitars and wonderful vocals. This song can compete with every epic in history! No time to give themselves a rest, because the next twelve-minute act of progressionís already waiting. The Grey Legend continues the high level Sky Architect have set for themselves. Orchestral keyboards and beautiful piano play are followed by some stunning guitars and relaxed vocals. The soaring (Hammond) keyboards give this song an awesome, back-to-the-seventies feel.
Russian Wisdom is a bit more relaxed. This song sometimes has an oriental sounding bass line played by Guus van Mierlo: very impressive and progressive. The title track is another twelve-minute song that brings you in higher spheres. Itís slightly experimental, vocally fantastic and atmospheric, and with guitar solos that would make Dave Gilmour blush. Iím talking about high quality music here. Gyrocopter starts with keyboards in the vein of Jordan Rudess, but than Wieringa takes over and his guitar sounds, together with the experimental vocals, make this a worthy end of an album recorded by this new and very promising Dutch prog band.
Sky Architect succeeded in making a combination of the old and the new. By doing so, they deserve a place in the international progressive rock scene. Apart from the wonderful compositions, this album has a mature production and is provided with nice cover art done by Mark Wilkinson, known for his work for Marillion, Fish and Judas Priest. Check this album out!
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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