Swappers Eleven was founded by and consists of Alessandro Carmassi (vocals), Luiz Alvin (keyboards, guitars) and Gary Foalle (bas guitar, guitars) and these guys were winners of the Marillion's swap the band contest at a Marillion weekend and they even stood on stage and played with the guys from Marillion.
For this debut album, titled From A Distance, the three members invited 17 guest musicians from 9 separate countries who also once played at the “famous” Marillion weekends. From A Distance is the self-penned debut album Of Swappers Eleven and of course this band definitely has a Marillion flavour; that is to say the Steve Hogarth era of the band. This album features two epic songs, Distance and Open Your Eyes, both clocking over 13 minutes and here you can experience the excellent musicianship of this band as both tracks are very diverse, filled with beautiful musical passages and an awesome vocal performance of Carmassi. Open Your Eyes even reminds me of Pendragon and that is mainly due to the twelve string guitar passages and the beautiful quiet passages and the Nick Barrett-like vocals on this song. Album opener The Collector is a great mid-tempo Marillion-like prog rock song featuring nice piano passages and a sparkling guitar solo. The best track according to yours truly is the last one called Hope Is A Stranger as it is by far the “heaviest” one on the album. A classic mid-tempo prog rock song filled with awesome hooks and riffs and two superbly played guitar solos which make me shiver every time I listen to this song; well done guys!
For a debut of a completely unknown band this is almost a masterpiece, so my advice for From A Distance is buy or die; I love it as it is doing overtime in my player!!!
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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