Album review: 25 YARD SCREAMER – Natural Satellite

25 YARD SCREAMER - Natural Satellite

White Knight [Release 08.08.19]

25 Yard Screamer might be like the proverbial curate’s egg – very good in patches.  The Welsh prog rockers have been toiling now for the best part of a decade, first achieving GRTR! seal of approval with 2007′s superb ‘Cassandra’.  This led to an appearance that year on our “Rising Stars” stage at the Cambridge Rock Festival.

Their more recent releases have maintained a consistency, often dense soundscapes that may seem impenetrable without further listening.  This also applies to the latest offering. At times you just want to hear more melody and not least with Nick James’ distinctive vocals.  It’s in there somewhere on the opener ‘The Storyteller’ and there are nice reflective moments in ‘Devastate’.

Things start to perk up with ‘The Silent Rising’ which does connect with their earlier sub-Marillion/early Hogarth period and reiterating their love of Rush.  It’s really what they do best, thoughtful lyrics lulling you into a false sense of security before grinding guitar riffage breaks up the sense of familiarity.  But this soon descends into more aleatoric agonising before a more accessible playout.

The band have experimented with some quirky sound effects on this album and, with two tracks beating the 14 minute mark, progressive in the truest sense.  This band doesn’t really do the short snappy single, even if with a proggy twist.  Perhaps this is an oversight.

I’ve often commented on the poor production values of previous releases, ‘Natural Satellite’ is a definite  step forward but given the album’s density it does still need some studio gloss and producer know-how.  Interestingly Rob Reed of Magenta, no slouch himself at the mixing desk, contributes keyboards to one track where perhaps he could have brought more expertise to bear.  This might not be the album for end of day unwinding but it certainly demands attention.  ***

Review by David Randall

Album review (Keep Sending Signals, 2016 )

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