Exceptional Symphonic Progressive Rock
Majestic, Grand, Epic, Profound
Australian mastermind Ben Craven hands us a masterful progressive rock tour de force with this, his third full-length release since 2005’s debut, “Tunisia: Two False Idols“.
I know, I know, there are various other albums in his discography- collections, single edits, live versions. However, these are his important artistic statements, and “Monsters From The Id” is outstanding. I think it’ll stand up beside “Close to the Edge” for artistic merit, musicianship, scope, and composition.
Ben may not appreciate this appellation, yet the icing on the cake of this mature, soaring, complex work, is the persistent impression he leaves that he is maneuvering in spiritual territory.
The two epic halves of “Monsters” suggest the epic and ferocious battle between Good and Evil, and the title itself draws us into contemplation of the creatures we humans are- the ‘id’, the unconscious boiling within urging us to go for what we want when we want it, consequences be damned.
Die Before You Wake
The first half of the album draws from cinematic music-making with opening industrial sounds, yet grows from this chaos into symphonic splendor. with mighty choral sounds, and featuring Ben’s soaring, melodic guitar lines.
There are suggestions in the lyrics of that great spiritual battle, with ideas of darkness, hate, vengeance, and destruction. These are set within the framework of Ben’s epic compositions, punchy bass guitar underneath, majestic keyboards and synths, subsiding into extended reveries with echoing reflective guitar work, and growing once again into grandeur.
There is imagery of baptismal waters, damnation, and salvation, never heavy-handed, and considered in fine poetic pictures.
Amnis Flows Aeternum
The second half of “Monsters From The Id” opens with clean acoustic guitar, brooding deep synth sounds and added keyboards, leading into a gentle symphonic passage.
I understand why his music is referred to as “cinematic” since it shows sparkle, drama, and depth. It underscores the gorgeous and graceful poetry of lyrics referring to the cry for aid in remaining open, not prejudiced; staying loving, not vengeful; joining the mighty flowing streams of Eternity rather than being selfishly bound to the id.
Here we have Ben’s soaring, seething electric guitar leads over majestic symphonic grandeur, giving way to crisp, complex guitar/bass unison lines and developing into some sinuous twin-guitar melody.
There is a nightmarish passage that grows and develops into musical bedlam, which gives way to grand choral passages, which in turn devolve with tremolo guitar leading into a moody, ponderous passage.
The grand ending wraps up this exceptional work with a winding-down, that again gives way to re-emerging grand themes and Ben’s sighing, soaring signature guitar work.
There IS a way we die before we experience transcendence. Dying to self and self-seeking, then awakening. Ben’s notes say he intends this work to suggest the transcendence, the hope, the vastness, and the grandeur that we humans too easily lose sight of in the day-to-day hurly-burly.
I appreciate the reminder, done so beautifully here by a surpassingly gifted composer/musician.
My rating- 5 Sparkling Stars, a masterpiece of progressive rock music.
I’m a musician, writer, chaplain, and progressive rock enthusiast. Almost everything about this genre interests me and sparks my creativity. I write, perform, and record music as well. View all posts by Stephen Conrad