Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bram Stoker - Cold Reading (2013)





Imagine listening to a new album released by a band steeped in the traditions of the seminal sounds of progressive rock. Now imagine that band actually was playing and recording back in 1969 – 72. Well, you don't have to close your eyes to dream about any of this anymore. But absolutely do not forget your headphones for this fantastic voyage and experience.

Bram Stoker has been around since the late 1960s and early '70s. Bram Stoker was making music at the same time as the seminal leaders of the progressive rock genre like Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, and ELP. The band was formed by keyboard player Tony Bronsdon in 1969. Bram Stoker played shows at the famous Marquee Club in London, where they were actually supported by one of the genre's lasting symphonic prog rock bands Queen. They regularly were featured in London's hotspots like the Roundhouse, The Marquee, The Greyhound – Croydon and The Speakeasy.

Bram Stoker has returned to deliver their first new CD since 1972. Cold Reading. It will be released on the 27th of January, 2014. Their first release was the classic 1972 album Heavy Rock Spectacular released on Windmill Records.

The new line-up features: Tony Bronsdon, on keyboards; Tony Lowe, on guitar and bass; and Will Hack, on drums and vocals. Jon Bavin, also an original member of the band, collaborated on writing two of the new compositions.

"Climbing the Gyroscope", an excellent song title, opens with those deep, dark Hammond keys and fathoms of bass. It puts you right back in the mood for some Foxtrot or Nursery Cryme, for sure. The fast moving keys, dripping bass, and Hackett sounding lead electric guitar will take you right back to classic Genesis. Just what the doctor ordered for a music scene that needs some inspiration from the past. Just sit back and listen to Bronsdon take you through Wakeman, Emerson and Banks with a wave of his hand. This is going to be one magical ride for any fan of the music of early prog.

"Cold Reading" has a more updated sound. Like Collins Era Genesis. This track would have fit well on Trick of the Tail or even Wind and Wuthering, except that the keyboards and that Hackett guitar take you back further in time. Will Hack's vocals are a good mix between Steve Hackett's and Phil Collins'. But those keys will register immediately. The keyboard sound at around 3:14 almost made me sing the words from the song "Scenes from a Night's Dream" from ...And Then There Were Three…

"Fast Decay" reminds me of some of the keyboard sounds from both ELP's Emerson and also the Italian band The Watch, who often covers Genesis classics. This keyboard romp will absolutely help solidify this band as a keeper for your "watch list". Innovative keyboard instrumentals the way you remember them, from all of the greats mentioned above. Nothing's missing…except maybe vocals.

"Calling Me Home" brings back more memories from that early Collins Era of Genesis. Trick or Wind melodies and sounds are prevalent reminders here. The heavy guitar and thick bass are excellent. But those keyboards just rattle the walls on this one. You will swear Hackett's playing those solos.

"Chasing Red" is the longest track on the album, so anyone who knows me knows I had to hear it first. Hack's vocals sing, "Alone I have to roam. Why make me hide away? Oh, no, no.". Those introspective lyrics you remember from the '70s. yes. But this time set to a very modern and cool keyboard melody supported perfectly with deep bass, and those brilliant lead electric guitar soars. Later Hack sings, "I will never be far away from here if lost is like a river…Flowing through us all. A raging waterfall". Yah, powerful lyrics you remember from the past. It all comes roaring back. Sit back and enjoy that powerful keyboard, strings, bass, drums, and lead guitar instrumental. "Live your life, just carry on, you will be fine". Amen.

"Joust" opens with brilliant regal revelry from the keyboards. The joust is between the Hackett sounding lead electric guitar and those Banks keyboards. Who will win? You the listener of course. Magic for your ears. Enjoy.

Everyone wants a "New Adventure", and this album has already delivered that experience and more. But this track almost takes you up to the sound of last Genesis album, Calling All Stations sound. Modern sounding melodies which still possess the golden keys of the past. "Follow me"…indeed.

They just had to have a song for my favorite season. And they do…"Like Autumn Now". It takes you back to hearing "Follow You, Follow Me" for the first time again. Yes, the melody is completely different but the feeling and sensations from that magical time of the year is all over the performance. Piano dominates this one with waves of Hackett level guitar soaring above deep bass and soft drums. "Send me round. To the place where I am found. Enriched by the darkness. I'll guide you through", set to dancing piano and deep Hackettesque guitar.

If you are from the early Genesis generation you knew they had to have a deep storyline in at least one of their songs. "Fingal's Cave" is that instrumental experience. Google the title and you will find that it is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. You will also find that the title involves the story of the eponymous hero of an epic poem by 18th-century Scots poet-historian historian James Macpherson. Unfortunately there is no lyrical adventure in this instrumental, but do not be dismayed. This over six minute keyboard and electric guitar extravaganza will tell enough of the story on its own, complete with deep Hammond, bass and galloping drums.

"Light at the End of the Tunnel" is the closer full of deep Hammond and synth keyboards set to amaze. At nearly six minutes it is a fitting closer to one of the best albums of the year. Sit back and let this keyboard extravaganza flow through your ears.

Wow! One of my favorite albums of the year already. Wish I hadn't missed them in the 1970s. Well, as I always say, it's not when you find a band, it's that you do find them and appreciate them when found. This album must be experienced to be fully appreciated. I have attempted to capture the spirit, but only hearing it yourself will truly register the dynamic power of this album. Not like The Watch, but also providing the sound and music like they do, that we as Genesis fans truly miss.

Great to find this band. They are definitely on my "watch list" now. Get this album and I guarantee they will also be on yours.Review from seaoftranquility

Track Listing:

1. Climbing the Gyroscope
2. Cold Reading
3. Fast Decay
4. Calling Me Home
5. Chasing Red
6. Joust
7. New Adventure
8. Like Autumn Now
9. Fingal's Cave
10. Light at the End of the Tunnel
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