Self Released – 30 June 2013
Active Heed, despite having a name that suggests something a Glaswegian would use in a Saturday night ruckus, is actually the musical brainchild of one Umberto Pagnini – an Italian composer and lyricist who has called upon a number of fine musicians to realise his vision of creative musical collaboration.
Although obviously aspiring to have both feet in the progressive rock genre, complete with the Roger Dean-alike artwork – I would suggest that one foot has definitely strayed into the Abacab-Phil Collins-Genesis-lite world of pop/prog.
This is a bit of a shame really as there are many good musical ideas scattered throughout the fifteen tracks on offer here.
Many of the tracks start really well with acoustic guitar and layered keyboards but they either end too soon (seven of the tracks clock in at less than three minutes) or overstay their welcome, which results in a rather disjointed listen.
Added to this are the decidedly like them or loathe them vocals of singer PelleK whose trembling vibrato and breathless delivery sound, at times, like a cross between Michael Buble and Bono.
However, despite all this negativity, there is still much to like here with tracks such as ‘Awake’, ‘Now What?’ and ‘The Weakness Of Our Spinning’ underlining the band’s progressive rock aspirations and an abundance of excellent playing – especially from the acoustic guitar of Lorenzo Poli. There’s also some additional vocals from Mark Colton (Credo) that highlight where the band wish to nail their colours.
As mentioned, there is plenty to enjoy here but it sounds like the band have fallen between two stools – they’re too pop for those of a progressive persuasion and too diverse for the pop crowd – not an insurmountable problem, but one that needs sorting.
Review by Alan Jones
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