When shadows fall...
Genre: progressive metal/rock
Touchstone is definitely one of the most sensational acts on the modern progressive rock scene these days. Wintercoast was massively progressive and expressive, yet incredibly catchy and full of intelligent mass appeal. The follow-up album "The City Sleeps" is, fortunately, characterized by the exact same qualities that made its predecessor such a great album.
On "The City Sleeps" Touchstone explore further their quite unique metal- and hardrock-infused brand of progressive rock. The album starts out with the quite massive sounding 'Corridors' whose initial eastern touches gives it a dark and exotic feel, while the rest of the tune is rich in melodic and haunting guitar figures and pumping hard rocking bass patterns and grand keyboard effects. The following track, the massively epic 'When Shadows Fall', retains the darkness, but takes the listener on an even grander journey through lots of moods and sounds - from grandiose, almost symphonic passages over retro-prog sections and mellow passages to all out chucking guitar-centered hardrock figures. And this particular track, along with the equally massive and epic title track, is pretty much indicative of the overall sound and variation of this album.
Being the rock dude I am, I really appreciate how Touchstone incorporate hardrock and all out metal riffage into their brand of progressive rock, as in the balls out rocker 'These Walls' or 'Good Boy Psycho', which is more of a progressive metal track, and juxtapose them with more mellow and melodic tunes, like the top class prog ballad 'Half Moon Meadow'. And we are not only talking juxtaposition of tracks; most of the individual tunes on this album contain both ripping metal riffage and soft sections as well as more retro prog parts (and often the different elements co-occur on top of each other).
There seems to be somewhat of a Genesis-influence on this album (the keyboards particularly seem inspired by Duke, while 'When Shadows Fall' reminds me of 'Dance on a Volcano' from A Trick of the Tail. And, I quite like that. I like the idea of Genesis-style elements co-occurring with all out metal attacks. It's this blend of elements from across the progressive rock and metal scenes that makes Touchstone's sound so appealing (to me at least).
The musicianship is top notch as is the song writing, and Kim Sevoir's silken voice fits into the picture like a glove. Fans of progressive music can look forward to Genesis-like keys, odd time signatures, epic songs, complex song structures and so on, and fans of metal can loo forward to hardrocking riffage, pumping bass, double bass drums, guitar harmonies and so on. Essentially, this is a progressive metal album, or perhaps a metal progressive album... in any case, it should appeal to fans of progressive rock as well as fans of progressive metal.
"The City Sleeps" is simply sensational. Should you be a fand of strong potent riffage and massively epic and expressive progressive music, buy this album now or spend the rest of your life in regret.
(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)