Album review: MESSENGER – Illusory Blues

Svart Records – Out Now.

Forty years ago, Britain was the epicentre of all things prog and psychedelic, but with time, it started to gradually share its unique status with other European countries, mainly those in Northern Europe.

While one swallow doesn’t make a summer, the London-based quintet Messenger is attempting to somewhat readdress this situation through the release of “Illusory Blues” – their sensational debut album under the Finnish label Svart Records.

Messenger are a band, which, though clearly influenced by the works of some of the greatest outfits Rock music has to offer, have still managed to present something that sounds fresh and exciting.

Any Rock fans worth their salt will recognise influences from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Anathema and even Pentagram in the seven compositions on offer. However, a constant influx of highly addictive guitar melodies and layers upon layers of emotionally charged vocals stops one from focusing on individual themes and allows the listener to appreciate the general picture.

In short, “Illusory Blues” is an exciting trip in gorgeous musical landscapes that will undoubtedly excite and attract even the most demanding of listeners.

Emotionally charged acoustic guitar power chords, Floyd-influenced layered vocals, Folk infused flute melodies…the opening track “The Return” has them all in abundance. Closer to the music of Anathema in terms of feel, “Piscean Tide” features a stunning gypsy-style violin theme and an inspirational vocal collaboration by the guitar duet Khaled Lowe / Barnaby Maddick.

Short, but immediate in its effect, “Dear Departure” is another song that mainly focuses on interwoven vocal themes, while the follow up “The Perpetual Glow Of A Setting Sun” showcases the band’s affiliations with the 70s psychedelic Rock scene.

Perfectly balancing influences from acts as diverse as Opeth (see “Deliverance”) and City (see “Am Fenster”), “Midnight” is a nine minute epic which normally only a band with decades of existence is capable of creating, while “Somniloquist” offers more stunning moments of acoustic guitar wizardry.

The closing composition of the album “Let The Light In” may not be as long and thematically challenging as its predecessors, but its oriental-sounding woodwind instrument theme, Floydian background chants  and disturbing violin section provides a fitting ending to a truly jaw-dropping album.

There are quite a few Rock fans out there, especially those who were lucky enough to have been active gig goers during the late 60s and early 70s, who claim that Rock music died after 1977 and it is really albums like “Illusory Blues” which prove without a shadow of a doubt how wrong these people are.

This, my friends, is one of the most mature, emotionally inspiring and enjoyable Rock albums I have heard of late.

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)

Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)

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