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2012-01-04 – Progressive Rock Central (Review)

Originally published at:

Great & Terrible Potions (Desert Comb music DC1006, 2011)

With his second album, Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Craven enters the progressive rock arena in grand style. His new album titled Great & Terrible Potions immediately catches your attention. The artwork is by the great album designer Roger Dean, the artist that designed the legendary covers for Yes, Uriah Heep and Greenslade. In this case, Dean’s fantasy artwork incorporates an Australian feel.

Great & Terrible Potions is an ambitious album and Craven clearly pulls it off. He has that rare ability of being a great instrumentalist and composer at the same time. And Craven also plays all the musical instruments featured in the album.

Great & Terrible Potions begins with a beautiful yet ominous piano and keyboards track titled “Diabolique”. The instrumental piece grows more dramatic with the incorporation of powerful bass, drums and Keith Emerson-style organ.

“Nobody Dies Forever Part 1” is a fine rock song with a guitar solo at the end. It segues into ambient synths, distant sounds and a choir that morph into an excellent bluesy Pink Floydian-guitar that builds into an epic piece.

On “Ready to Lose”, Craven brings out the acoustic guitar. The folk style guitar and vocals transforms into a synth and electric guitar-driven neoprog rocker with more captivating guitar solo work.

“The Conjurer” brings back the acoustic piano in an anthemic piece that blends piano with delightful slide guitar evoking the sounds of David Gilmour. It builds into another superb guitar solo.

[Ben Craven – Photo by Michelle Aziz]

The next cut is “No specific Harm,” the great epic in the album. Craven combines majestic keyboards with Arabic sounding soaring electric guitar. The suite is set in ancient Egypt and Craven’s music takes the listener to this ancient world with his skillful cinematic compositions. Craven also shows here that he’s a respectable arranger, making transitions that flow naturally.
“Solace” is the calm after the storm. It’s a beautiful acoustic guitar and keyboards instrumental track that also grows into epic electric guitar.

“Nobody Dies Forever Part 2” is a short reprise of Part 1 that takes you into a simpler world.

“Great & Terrible Potions” begins as a vocals and piano ballad which adds more of the tasty slide guitar. It turns into a full blown symphonic rock fest with several layers of keyboards and electric guitar.

The album includes three bonus tracks. They are single-length edits of three songs, Ready to Lose, Nobody Dies Forever, and No specific Harm, intended for radio airplay.

Another bonus is the CD booklet which unfolds into a stunning mini-poster designed by Roger Dean.

Great & Terrible Potions is an outstanding album by one of the emerging talents in the progressive rock field.

CD (North America)