Album review: THORNE – At The Edge

THORNE – At The Edge

CD Baby [Release date 20.06.15]

Thorne is an international combo spanning three continents, whose members have never met.

They are a prog and classic rock band with psychedelic edges, who met on line via the music collaboration site and have forged their niche in the vanguard of the ‘virtual band movement’ .

In that respect ‘At The Edge’ is an aptly titled album which highlights the increasing modern way of recording, as each member contributes their respective parts to a surprisingly colourful aural canvas.

The result is a partial success that at its best contributes fiery acid rock and at its worst sound ragged, suggesting they have a way to go in the new ‘virtual’ discipline of goal oriented focus.

Thorne open impressively with the hard driving rock of the ambivalently titled ‘Lost And Wandering’. It’s punctuated by Brad Thorne’s mix of power chords and shredding, while ‘The Situation’ is a cool exercise in dynamics with a doctored voice, a seamless flow and a powerful guitar riff.

‘Carry On’ is too cluttered with unrelenting guitar, and where Mark Alan Dooley sounded confident on the opening 2 tracks, here he sounds uncertain on a muddy production.

‘Disconnected’ features Peter Rand on keyboards, Brad Thorne on buzz guitar and Dan Pisciotta  on the rhythm instruments, but the vocals are mixed just a shade too far back.

Vocalist Dooley is much better on the Zeppelin style ‘Just Because’, as the band wrap themselves round a crunching riff driven piece with spacey production touches.

The title track leans more towards an enveloping electronica feel that draws the listener in, while ‘Medicine Man’ is a piano inflected melodic piece with a fine vocal.

There’s a change of direction on the proggy psychedelia of ‘The Devil She Comes’ which builds an acid drenched wall of sound with lashing of buzz guitar and organ, as the band jams as only a virtual band can!

This track comes closest to what vocalist Dooley describes as the balance between perfection and accident. At times the band do indeed broach a musical mutuality and find an organic spark, while at other times they sounds like a bunch of disparate individuals furiously jamming along tp the core drum part.

‘No Excuses’ is a slice of tub thumping classic rock, powered by drummer Marco Meister’s, topped by an Ozzie Osbourne style vocal with proggy keyboard embellishments, but it ends in a bit of a mush.

The album finishes with a 4 part suite ‘Winter’s Silence’, suggesting the band has co-opted the kind of pomposity that blighted too much prog rock. The music has an early 70’s feel’s but part 1’s ‘The Warning’ lacks a sufficient structure or progression at the heart of the piece despite the burgeoning guitar solo and frenetic keyboards.

The wall of sound on part 2’s Winter’s Silence’ fleetingly evokes Pink Floyd and the vocals could have come from an early Hawkwind album.

The melodic instrumental ‘Arrival Of Spring’ features interwoven guitar and keyboards, while the concluding ‘Dawn of the Daye’ manfully tries to rock out on a track that is just too cluttered.

‘At The Edge’ is an inconsistent album that just fall short of its aim of uncovering the kind of free form spark that made the best prog rock band’s great. There’s no denying the collective energy, creativity, passion and drive, but ‘virtual band’ or not, what’s missing is the old fashioned concept of a producer to oversee and shape the international effort. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

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