F2 Music [Release date 24.06.19]
Second album by the Yorkshire based progressive rockers This Winter Machine, who are relative newcomers having formed in 2016. They consist of Al Winter (vocals), Mark Numan (keyboards, vocals), Graham Garbett (guitars, vocals), Scott Owens (guitars, vocals), Andy Milner (drums) and Pete Priestley (bass). They have picked up a few awards and nominations for best newcomer at various prog awards along the way too.
Prog fans will be delighted to know this is a concept album, based upon the premise that the main character throughout the album, the owl, is like an angel who stores all our feelings and memories in Tower of Clocks, meaning that nothing really dies while it can still be remembered. An interesting idea and one the band explore over the ten songs on the album that includes three instrumentals.
Speaking of instrumentals ‘Herald’ is a rollercoaster ride of tempos and features wonderful interplay between the keys and crunchy guitar riffs. ‘In Amber’ is a beautiful ballad, allowing Al Winter the chance to show his emotive singing.
The band’s love of Marillion comes through loud and clear on ‘The Hunt’, a satisfying mix of guitar-led parts and another couple of soaring keyboard solos. The band never let any one instrument dominate and the production is spot on.
Musicianship wise they are all top notch, special mention to the keys of Mark Numan and in particular his piano parts dotted throughout the album. Also bassist Pete Priestly who gives that bottom end some serious kicking when required (‘Symmetry And Light’) and at other times, a gently soothing bassline (‘In Amber‘).
This Winter Machine are a perfect listen for those who love Fish-era Marillion and neo-prog bands like Pendragon and Arena. A highly accomplished album and one that is set to win This Winter Machine more deserved awards and listeners. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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