Gentle Art Of Music - [Release date: 14.02.20]
German progressive rock titans RPWL have been ridiculously busy lately, both collectively and individually.
Their ‘Tales From Outer Space’ album from early 2019 was deservedly five starred, as was their double live follow-up ‘Live From Outer Space’. Add to this a tremendous solo album from the band’s vocalist/keysman Yogi Lang ‘A Way Out Of Here’ and tack on a European tour and you get some idea of their recent upward trajectory.
Now, as if all that was insufficient, along comes guitarist Kalle Wallner’s side project Blind Ego’s fourth studio album ‘Preaching To The Choir’.
And it’s an absolute monster.
As with 2016’s ’Liquid’ album, it’s as if he’s slipped the leash of RPWL’s progressive rock constraints, turned the volume up to eleven and decided to blow us all into next week.
The dystopian cover art presages the album’s fatalistic blueprint, and for fans of RPWL’s brand of intelligent and thoughtful progressive rock a rude awakening lies in wait.
From the powerful, bass-heavy riff of the appropriately monikered opener ‘Massive’ it is immediately apparent that this is a wildly different beast – and yet, and yet, despite much metallic mayhem, throughout the album the tune is always at the centre of things.
Metallica, and particularly the ‘Black’ album is a good touchstone here as the band are able to switch from grinding metal riffs on the likes of the title track and ‘Line In The Sand’, to delicate arpeggios on ‘Dark Paradise’ and ‘Heading For The Stars’.
There’s even a touch of commerciality here and there with ‘Burning Alive’ and ‘In Exile’ and classic rock a go-go on ‘Broken Land’.
The eight minutes plus of closer ‘The Pulse’ is the only glimpse we get of RPWL’s progressive rock tropes – with its pulsing, ear-worm of a riff, it’s one of those tracks where you wonder just how does a riff like that come about…simple yet complex at the same time.
Across the album, Wallner’s fretwork is exceptional – incendiary when it needs to be but with deft subtlety if required and aligned to the vocals of Scott Balaban – which are just what this music needs – it’s a heady brew.
For many fans of RPWL ‘Preaching To The Choir’ may be a step too far into the world of sledgehammer rock but for metal-heads who enjoy a side-order of subtlety with their bludgeoning riffs it’s probably just the ticket. ****
Review by Alan Jones
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