Hear No Evil [Release date 07.10.13 ]
Having signed a new deal with Hear No Evil/Cherry Red Records, Touchstone have adopted the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ principle with their fourth studio album and leading single ‘Flux’.
Recorded and produced at Outhouse Studios, with long term producer John Mitchell once again guiding proceedings from behind the desk, Oceans Of Time has a clear line of sight back through the band’s previous albums.
In particular, the title track provides a sequel to the title tracks of Wintercoast (2009) and The City Sleeps (2011), while ‘Shadow’s End’ completes the Shadow trilogy, which started with Shadow on Discordant Dreams (2007).
But while there’s continuity, Oceans Of Time continues the subtle shift evidenced by The City Sleeps towards a harder hitting guitar-orientated set. And with no narrated intro this time around it’s a groove the band kick into from the outset with their commanding new single ‘Flux’.
It’s a pace from which they seldom raise their collective pedals from the metal, drummer Henry Rogers (who won best drummer at the Classic Rock Society awards) in particular, putting in an absolute powerhouse performance throughout. Where they do rein back, as on ‘Contact’ – a wonderful bluesy slow burner, and my own personal favourite here – they reveal the full range of the band’s talents.
Which brings me to another area where clear progress is evident – Kim ‘Elkie’ Seviour’s vocals. Now very firmly the vocal centre point of the band, there’s a new confidence and authority in her delivery and on the likes of ‘Contact’ she demonstrates why she’s fast developing into one of the ‘best in class’ melodic female vocalists on the circuit.
Elsewhere the power and passion of Adam Hodgson’s guitar work and Rob Cottingham’s keys is as exemplary as always and Oceans Of Time is destined to find favour with the band’s growing legion of fans. But as they move inexorably towards the rock end of the spectrum, they’re probably going to appeal to an increasingly younger audience. No bad thing from a longevity perspective, but it may alienate those who prefer their prog served with a broader sound palette.
Oceans Of Time will get its first on the road outing on a 6-date UK tour in October, where the band will be joined by Finnish co-headliners Von Hertzen Brothers. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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