Jury's Verdict #3

On this page we will list a multiple review of a selection of 3 albums out of the (in our humble opinion) most important or interesting recent releases.

  X Abarax
Blue Room
Full review
X Blue Floyd
Live In Pennsylvania
Full review
X Supernal Endgame
Touch The Sky Volume I
Full review
X Henri
Crying Of The Whales was a great debut album made by German band Abarax. On this release we could hear influences taken from the music created by Pink Floyd. Therefore my expectations were pitched when I received their second album. However, after listening to Blue Room a couple of times I came to the conclusion that they couldn't reach the high level of music performed on their debut album. All songs start in a nice way, but I lost interest after a while. All tracks tend to sound the same and the band never actually peak. For me, Blue Room is just too mediocre. Sadly, but this second effort of Abarax falls short of my expectations.

Pink Floyd are one of the best known progressive rock bands on the planet. It's obvious that a lot of bands want to play their music. Blue Floyd is such a band that consists of a number of musicians from other well-known acts that try to perform their music in a different musical style. I love Floyd's music and it's nice that other people try to do something different with their songs, but this is not a release I was waiting for. I listened to it a couple of times even with a smile on my face, but unfortunately that has been my only reaction. It's nicely done; no more, no less!

Rating: **+
Certain album releases sometimes contain a message that comes along with the music. Some of them deal about faith and religion which is also the case on this album. Many people can't separate the music from the lyrics and that might become a problem. That doesn't apply for me because I always give preference to the music which is superb on this release by the American three piece Supernal Endgame. All tracks contain progressive rock the best way possible. The music sometimes reminded me of Neal Morse, Kansas, Styx, Iona and even Yes. For me, this is certainly one of the best albums released in 2010. I'm looking forward to Touch The Sky, volume 2.

Rating: ****
X Peter
I liked Crying Of The Whales (2005), the debut album of German band Abarax very much, but the similarities with the music of Pink Floyd were obvious. They even thanked Pink Floyd in the booklet for 'inspirations and a music style we miss so much'. On their second album Blue Room the band seemed to have found their own identity, much to my pleasure. The music can be characterized as neo-prog in the finest tradition with outstanding melody lines, excellent guitar solos and great harmony singing all very melodic and mostly mid-tempo. André Blaeute sings much stronger and more self-assured than he did on the first album. There's no song on this album that really stands out, but in my opinion the entire album is one great highlight with no weak spots at all. Blue Room will definitely end in my top-5 over 2010. Great album!

Rating: ****+
After listening to this triple (!) live album twice, I've got ambiguous feelings. On the one hand this is not the way I like to listen to the music of Pink Floyd, but on the other hand American project Blue Floyd get my appreciation for doing a great job giving its own interpretation of Pink Floyd's music. From that point of view Blue Floyd are unique unlike The Australian Pink Floyd for instance. The latter has reached a certain degree of perfection by imitating Pink Floyd. Blue Floyd, however, leave a lot of room for improvisation, jamming and using a different musical style thus giving their own interpretation of Pink Floyd's music. Just for those reasons many things go wrong (that's live!) and not all renditions are equally played well. Nevertheless, these musicians get my respect for creating adventurous versions of the well-known Pink Floyd-pieces instead of imitating them. 

Rating: ***
If you like progressive rock in the vein of Kansas, Glass Hammer or Neal Morse or other typical American bands and moreover you're a true believer of Christianity, then you should try Touch The Sky of American trio Supernal Endgame in order to enjoy both the lyrics and the music. Other people, who like the aforementioned bands, should listen to this album as well trying not to concentrate on the lyrics, but on the music. And the music is excellent: outstanding guitar solos, perfect harmony singing and solid compositions. However, sometimes it's just a bit too radio-friendly, but it always remains tasteful. For people who wanted to know everything about Roine Stolt: as a guest musician he's playing a marvellous guitar solo on Grail, one of the two epic pieces. I enjoyed listening to this album, one of the better releases this year, but unlike Neal Morse the lyrics are a bit too explicit...    

Rating: ****
X André
de Waal
It took German band Abarax four years to come up with a successor for the magnificent debut album Crying Of The Whales. Finally Blue Room has arrived and I have mixed feelings about it. The nice thing about Abarax was that the band had specifically started to fill the void of Pink Floyd who will never release new music anymore. Blue Room however, contains a song which reminds me way too much of Scorpions' Wind Of Change: bombastic singing with big refrains and keyboards. This song might not be exemplary for the rest of the music on Blue Room, but it's nonetheless indicative: songs which are sung with a raw rock-like voice and bombastic compositions that are not interesting enough for their length. Low point is the shamefully commercial ballad Red Roses And Bullets which seems to be meant to catapult Abarax in the MTV Top 10. Rather disappointing.

Rating: **-
My criterion to judge cover bands is: do they indeed give a fresh outlook on the originals? A band which is very much able to do this is Blue Floyd, a collective consisting of musicians from American southern rock bands Allman Brothers Band, Gov't Mule and Black Crowes. On this triple live CD, recorded in 2000, the accent lays on jamming. Almost every songs starts as the classic Pink Floyd music, but then turns into an extended jam with the emphasis on the organ and on solos. Many of Floyd's classics get a marvellous treatment of jam band and fusion bliss for extended periods of time. I keep playing the three disks in a row, time after time. This is an obligatory purchase for every Pink Floyd and jam band fan, hell, basically for everybody!

Rating: *****
It's kind of strange that in general reviewers have a dislike of overly Christian bands. Although in all fairness, the words these bands use are often overly sweet and pushy. Neal Morse is one of the few Christian artists who has been able to find the right balance of bringing the Christian message and offering excellent music. Supernal Endgame has unfortunately not found this balance yet. Unfortunately, because the music is quite worthwhile, especially the longer songs bring a lot of proggy pleasure. The short ones are too radio, or should I say too church-friendly. I could do without these. You also have to be able to ignore the signing. And if you do, then this is not a bad album to listen to.

Rating: **+

November 2010

Previous Jury's Verdicts:
Jury's Verdict #2: Parzival's Eye, Glass Hammer & 3rd World Electric
Jury's Verdict #1: Metamorphosis, Martigan & Agents Of Mercy

Next Jury's Verdict

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