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On disc: Pure Reason Revolution

The Dark Third - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
Hammer And Anvil - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars

Hammer And Anvil

Hammer And Anvil
(Superball Music - 2010)

With Hammer And Anvil British prog rockers Pure Reason Revolution present their 3rd studio album. And if you know PRR then you know that they will you surprise you one or the other way. After Amor Vincit Omnia many fans were disappointed, coz PRR had changed their sound. And Hammer And Anvil are going to continue what they started with Amor Vincit Omnia.
The opener Fight Fire shows them combining EBM beats with melodic vocals, but it's quite repetitive. Songs like Black Mourning sound like a mélange of Depeche Mode and Unheilig... While slow passages of Black Mourning remind me of some old 80's synthesizer pop band. And partly show a bit of the old PRR. At Patriarch they put more focus on the melodic side with beautiful vocal lines, but I think they should reduce the synthesizers a bit, coz they are too prominent. A song like Last Man, Last Round has dance floor beats and lots of synths, then offers a slow passage where they focus on the vocals - and back to EBM beats. This song is like a double-edged sword, coz some won't like the EBM parts while others will dislike the slow, melodic passage. I don't think that PRR will manage to satisfy fans of their debut with Hammer And Anvil. And EBM fans won't fall for them for other reasons. At Valour the mix works a bit better, perhaps because this is more like a metallic version of Depeche Mode... The beginning of Over The Top is New Order-like, but the vocals are more melodic. Actually the synthesizer is repetitive and starts annoying me. Blitzkrieg seem to be inspired by Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream - in combination with some EBM beats. Then after more then 3 minutes they change and offer a Floyd-ish passage. I really like this atmospheric sound with harmony vocals. And Open Insurrection is a track which prog rock fans will welcome.
Actually I think that with Hammer And Anvil they lost some of their early fans, if electronica fans will get into them, I don't know. If you liked Amor Vincit Omnia, then you will like Hammer And Anvil. But if you dig their debut The Dark Third, then I doubt you will appreciate their latest piece of work.

7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


The Dark Third

The Dark Third
(InsideOut Music - 2007)

The English band Pure Reason Revolution was founded in 2003 and they released a few singles, a mini-album and now their debut The Dark Third. A conceptual album - one thrid of our lives we sleep - it's the dark third of our lives. The songs all deal about dreams and the refections of our lives in sleep... in dreams. John Courtney studied philosophy and his work on Kant gave the initial idea for the band name. Also the lyrics have a philosophical aspect, so take a closer look.
Opening with the instrumental Aeropause they present a Floyd-ish track which in my opinion isn't a good start into the album, especially as a more then 5 min. long instrumental might scar off some listeners... On the other hand this track creates soundscapes which should be listened to without any distraction - which can be said about the whole album. So lay down - in the dark - and let yourself be dragged into the world of PRR. That Pink Floyd had some influence on the band is obvious, but sound spheres and the electronic elements remind me of Tangerine Dream. Other elements which describes the sound are... ambient... psychedelic... They also make me think of Nektar... They combine heavy guitars with an angel-like voice and with violins. Samples with polyphony vocals and keyboard sounds. The vocal lines are catchy and have a Beach Boys-touch and a bit Moody Blues. But all this can't describe the sound at all. You have to listen to PRR! And with the 2nd track Goshen's Remains they will carry you away. As the wind gush at the end leads you into Apprentice Of The Universe. First it seems that they present a variation of the predecessor, but then the song gets it's on identity. The sound sample in the background could have been taken from some sci-fi sound track... Or might some remind of a dentists driller... Different is the 12 min. long The Bright Ambassadors Of Morning. They start with spherical sounds... Tangerine Dream-like they lead you into another dream. The song title gives a reference to Pink Floyd and the vocal arrangement is very Floyd-ish. Also they pick up a line off Pink Floyd's Echoes during the chorus - and also use this line in He Tried To Show Them Magic!. A nice homage to one of the most influential bands of our time.
Nimbos & Tambos is quite heavy, even if it starts with polyphony vocals and some trip-hop sounds, then explodes - let me think of Lacuna Coil - and heavy guitar riffing combined with Chloe Alper's angel-like vocals put you under a spell. The combination of male and female vocals as much as the polyphony vocals are a trademark of PRR's sound. This song is with less then 4 minutes the shortest one and has the right size for radio, but I doubt that mainstream radio will play them.
I don't want to go more into detail, coz it won't help you at all when you can't listen to their songs! A very impression debut album and I would give them the highest rating, but they should have the possibility to top this one - and I bet they will!

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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