The John Irvine Band -
The Starships Are Gathering

(CD 2024, 47:30, Head In The Door Records HITDR-JIB007)

The tracks:
  1- All Systems Go!(5:07)
  2- The Archimedean Point(6:05)
  3- The Electrics Were Down(5:55)
  4- Lacus Temporus(10:52)
  5- Alien Interceptor(3:13)
  6- Baptism Of Fire: Gordian Knots(7:24)
  7- The Great Polyandrium In The Sky(5:28)
  8- The Starships Are Gathering(3:26)

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The Starships Are Gathering is the second release in The End Of Days trilogy, an instrumental concept journey based around a science fiction story, featuring The John Irvine Band, consisting of John Irvine (guitars, keyboards, and bass guitar) and Andrew Scott (King King and Paul Gilbert) on drums. The first part, Scanning The Dark Horizon (2023, see review) ,was indeed a more than excellent progressive instrumental jazz rock album packed with melodic guitar passages and keyboard melodies and the music on this second part is definitely at the same high musical level; guitar fusion with obvious musical roots in the progressive rock world and you can certainly hear YES inspired musical elements.

The first highlight hits you right from the start as the opening track All Systems Go sounds very breezy and light; the solid rock tempo and the addictive, melodic keyboard hooks combine almost perfectly with Irvine's amazing guitar melodies and solos; what a way to open an album; and you may wonder if it can get any better than this? And, yes that is possible as the best song is yet to come, being the epic Lacus Temporus, clocking in over ten minutes and being the centrepiece of this album, this one really is a killer. Scott entertains us with his amazing dynamic drumming and Irvine's synths and guitar parts are second to none indeed. The middle section of this mini epic is packed with rather subtle melodies and heavenly strings before "hell" breaks loose again with up tempo guitar parts and "pounding" drums, a true prog fusion masterpiece indeed!
The title track ends this album, the eighth and Irvine's best album yet by this Scotland based guitarist/composer, just as it started, more than excellent indeed, as The Starships Are Gathering is indeed a brilliant blend of jazz, fusion, and progressive instrumental rock.

However, the main question, still remains, how does the story end, will it end well?

**** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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