Album review: RPWL: God Has Failed – Live And Personal

RPWL - God Has Failed: Live And Personal

Gentle Art Of Music [Release date: 30.04.21]

RPWL started life way back as a Pink Floyd tribute band, and, rather like Marillion and their relentless (and wrong) “Genesis Clones” soubriquet, struggled early on to free themselves of the PF comparisons.

Twenty years on and with ten studio and seven live albums behind them, they have deservedly put that issue to bed and are now hailed as one of the foremost progressive rock bands in Europe.

And here is where it all began.

The band was fully rehearsed and all set to embark on on a multi-week, multi-country tour to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their debut album ‘God Has Failed’ before the pandemic intervened.

So, rather than let all that work go to waste, and similar to Katatonia with their “Dead Air’ album, they assembled in a concert hall in their home town of Freising (Germany), played the whole thing live in front of an imaginary audience and filmed it for posterity.

And it’s interesting to listen to a band play an album in its entirety with twenty years more musical experience on the clock.

It was a great debut album anyway but this is a step-up and sounds much fresher and more muscular in the live setting.

Although there are recurring themes throughout, ‘God Has Failed’ is not really a concept album per sé. There are love songs, songs about the state of the world (yes, even then) and songs about loss, all pulled together with outstanding musicianship and, as is always the case with RPWL, an articulate and challenging libretto.

You WILL hear the odd ‘Floyd trope here and there (which progressive rock album is completely devoid of them?), but this is RPWL’s own sound and set a precursor for the exceptional albums that were to follow.

The descending riff of the three parts of ‘Hole In The Sky’ is the touchstone for the album and it keeps showing up here and there to keep the flow.

Kalle Wallner’s guitar work on ‘Who Do You Think We Are’, ‘Spring Of Freedom’ and ‘In Your Dreams’ is just sublime, there’s nice acoustic on ‘What I Need (Pts.1 & 2)’ and a six string blow-out on ‘Hole In The Sky (Pt.3)’ – but overall this is a collective effort where everyone plays a key part in making it sound as good as it does.

Strangely, despite the album title, the songs are not as acerbically anti-religious as you would think, but certainly laid down a template for the recurring atheistic theme of subsequent work.

So, a great debut album given new life and, if you’ve never heard RPWL (shame on you!), as good a place as any to begin to appreciate one of the finest prog bands out there.

****

Review by Alan Jones

 

 





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