SAPPHIRE (PRESTON)

NWoBHM • United Kingdom
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Not to be confused with Sapphire, the London band, who lost members to Dragonfly.
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SAPPHIRE (PRESTON) Discography

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SAPPHIRE (PRESTON) Sapphire album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Sapphire
NWoBHM 1982

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SAPPHIRE (PRESTON) Sapphire II album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Sapphire II
NWoBHM 1983

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SAPPHIRE (PRESTON) Reviews

SAPPHIRE (PRESTON) Sapphire

Album · 1982 · NWoBHM
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Certif1ed
The influence of up-and-coming bands such as (Sil)Marillion, Chemical Alice, Twelfth Night and Pallas and existing stalwarts Rush et al had a small but significant impact on the NWoBHM scene, and many bands used keyboards in their sound - it wasn't all guitar combo power metal y'know.

Praying Mantis are probably the most widely remembered of all the keyboard-touting NWoBHM bands, but Preston-based Sapphire utilised them well in their sound, making a bold attempt to blend the huge stadium sound of bands like Journey with the more intimate stripped-down Neo-Progressive sound. This debut full-length demo impresses in places, given that it comes not from an established stadium act, but is a complete DIY effort like the best NWoBHM. In many other places, however, it sound completely DIY to its detriment.

A wailing howl greets the listener, shocking him or her out of quiet reverie, but this changes to volume controlled edgy tones with a kind of serialist feel (as in serialist music, of course...), then the big riff kicks in which drives the song through like a hard-edged Journey. The vocalist then joins using a range uncannily similar to Geddy Lee. I've pinned a slideshow video to this site so you can check it out - it's devilishly infectious, although somewhat simple in arrangement generally.

Autumn kicks off with a pair of time mismatched double synth lines, giving a most uncomfortable, edgy feel. You know this is a build up, and duly the Priest-flavoured riff is delivered in the next track, predictably entitled "Back on the Streets". It's good and tight - but I'm noticing the drums aren't quite doing the sort of things I'd like them to - there's altogether too much "Playing it safe". The same applies to the guitar solo - a nice, safe pentatonic noodle, up and down a single position with maybe the odd shift, making a much weaker song.

Crazy is a peculiar song, with lite Progressive influences - but it's essentially a rather poorly delivered love song until the strong chorus. Nevertheless, it captures an ambience and sound that is quite irresistable and haunting - and the half-time Floyd inspired solo section is charming.

The next song, Love is The Feeling seems like a continuation of the last, making this demo feel more like over-length than full-length, although it's competent enough.

Freeflight is a lot more interesting, an acoustic/synth based number reminding me a fair bit of Camel, which segues rather uncomfortably into Battle For Freedom, the big epic.

This number has the band pulling out all the stops to impress - and, along with Encounter, is the reason you should give this demo cassette a listen if you are a fan of Neo Prog, Hard Rock with keys or the more experimental side of NWOBHM.

As noted, this release isn't without its flaws - and the throwaway quality of some of the songwriting means that this is less a flawed diamond, and more a flawed, er, blue gemstone, perhaps?

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