CD Reviews

Dante - 'Saturnine' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 20, 2010    
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A very good album and one that will find great favour with Prog fans.

This is German band Dante’s sophomore album following on from their ‘The Inner Circle’ release from 2008. It looks as if I’ll have to shell out some cash for the debut, because this is a terrific album.

You know on to something a bit special when the opening track, ‘All My Life’ starts with an atmospheric keyboard throb courtesy of Markus Maichel and a lovely bass riff from Michael Neumeier. The drums of Christian Eichlinger pick up the beat before a huge guitar riff from Markus Berger brings the tempo right up. Maichel gets to produce a Symphony X synth solo before the song takes on another feel altogether with a delightful piano and strings refrain which sets the scene for Alexander Göhs’ vocals. At this point we’ve been through several styles and influences, with the vocal arrangement putting me in mind of Arena, although we’ve also had Dream Theater, a bit of Euro Metal etc. There’s a bit in the middle that gets a bit tuneless but it’s brief. As you’d expect from a 12 minute epic there is a wide variety of themes and time changes, but it’s so well arranged that it sounds cohesive.

‘Drifting’ opens with another piano and vocal arrangement and Queensrÿche comes to mind, with Göh displaying Geoff Tate tendencies on a song that has a passing resemblance to ‘Silent Lucidity’ in places. The harmony vocal arrangement is terrific as is the guitar solo which finishes this ballad off in fine fashion. ‘Last’ picks up the pace again with a fine initial riff. The band shows their ability to write strong chorus, although I have to say that the vocals are a bit shouty at times for my taste. This isn’t my favourite track on the album. ‘Never Return’ gets things back on track with another Arena style riff, albeit augmented by a subtle but pleasing Hammond Organ. In familiar fashion this section comes to a sudden halt and they switch themes. Again, there’s a fine chorus and plenty of time changes to maintain interest and plenty of good instrumental performances to please the listener.

‘Maybe One Day’ returns to the piano / vocal style but with violin joining in to fine effect. Written by Maichel he certainly knows how to create and arrange a delightful ballad on which Göh delivers a fittingly plaintive vocal and once more the harmony vocals are lovely.

Penultimate number, ‘Modal Acousma’ is a driving instrumental with Dream Theater overtones. At over 7 minutes you can imagine that the band gets to stretch its wings, which they do with alacrity but without ever getting out of hand. I particularly like the dirty Organ sound, but anyone with a penchant for playing air instruments will love this one. The album’s piece de resistance is the epic ‘Vanessa’, which clocks in at 19 minutes and is rather special. Split into five sections it covers many of the genres of Prog throughout its journey and paints a picture of many colours and shades, with every member of the band excelling, although I have to say that I’m not a big fan of the Derek Sherinian style synth solos they employ at times. Again, on the vocals I am minded to think of Arena and if I have criticism then it would be that on the more up tempo songs Göhs’ vocals don’t quite cut the mustard. Pink Floyd come to mind on an instrumental passage about eight minutes in, which has that familiar keyboard sound underpinning a wonderful Gilmour-esque guitar solo. The 19 minutes flashes by and it is fair to say that the band has created a true epic of the genre.
This is a very good album and one that will find great favour with Prog fans.

Gary Marshall

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