Review by Gary Hill
This album is a case where less might very well be more. I would suggest that it would be a stronger release had the bonus tracks been left off the main CD. That’s because the two main pieces are masterpieces, while the others are just shortened single versions. Those two epics are each over 19-minutes long. They showcase a world of progressive rock, symphonic type stuff and so much more. They do it all with so much style. Ben Craven’s work is always strong, but this is certainly the most impressive thing he’s released. I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t make my best of 2022 list. You get the CD with this, but also a DVD. That DVD includes the same music as the album, with the single edits included as music videos. Honestly, I think maybe those single versions should have been left off of the album proper and just included in the video form.
This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022 Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.
Track by Track Review
Die Before You Wake
Ambience brings this cut in, gradually building upward. I am reminded a little of “Flight of the Bumblebee” as this rises up with a hard rocking, classically tinged arrangement. I think that’s an intentional connection. There is a metallic edge to this, but it’s decidedly prog based. There are voices that feel part of the musical arrangement as it drives forward. That section peaks, and then gives way to a movement that has a gentle classical bent to it. From there it shifts toward more insistent symphonic rock. The cut continues to evolve from there before dropping back to a piano and voice arrangement. This evolves from there, and eventually turns out to spacey kind of arrangement for an instrumental movement. This has some amazing neo-classical moments at times. It’s full of drama, bombast and wonder. There is a section after the 16-minute mark that really makes me think of Pink Floyd. The whole piece has a real symphonic epic vibe. It’s such a powerhouse.
Amnis Flows Aeternum
Acoustic guitar dominated mellow sounds bring this track into being. This begins to evolve working into a section that seems to have a lot of mysterious spaceyness built into it. This turns to fast paced, driving prog that has some real Yesish vibes a times. The cut works to some powerful symphonic zones further down the road. This keeps twisting and turning in some intriguing ways as it works forward. There is a bit of a trippy freak-out movement before it drops to a more mainstream sound for the entrance of the vocals. I really love the synthesizer dominated movement after the half-way mark of the piece. That builds to a dramatic section that is another that calls to mind Pink Floyd to some degree. There is a shift to something that makes me think of Rick Wakeman before it resolves to a climbing and potent vocal movement. The guitar solo later is just so cool. More powerhouse jamming takes over from there as this continues to grow.
Die Before You Wake (Single Edit)
There is a great song-based vibe to this edit from the opening epic. It still has plenty of prog concept in it. Don’t get me wrong, the full track is a masterpiece. This is just a strong song. I prefer the full meal to this sandwich, but this is a good concise take on some of the magic of the full piece.
Wicked Delights (Single Edit)
This is a powerhouse prog jam in this edited version. There is some real symphonic magic and killer instrumental work. There are some non-lyrical chorale styled vocals, but overall this is an instrumental number.
Guiding Voice (Single Edit)
Again, this works reasonably well in this format, but it’s not at anything close to the level of the epic from which it comes.
Amnis Flows Aeternum (Single Edit)
Here we get another “song-based” edit. This is another powerhouse example of symphonic prog.