TOUCHSTONE — The City Sleeps (review)

TOUCHSTONE — The City Sleeps album cover Album · 2011 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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The City Sleeps is the third album from UK prog act Touchstone. The band, although most commonly described as a progressive rock act, has many progressive metal and hard rock qualities as well, giving them a wide appeal. In a development from their previous album Wintercoast (2009) the band has acquired some strong leanings into symphonic prog territory, along with a general increase in the progressive nature of their compositions.

Whether Touchstone is ultimately more of a rock or a metal act remains up for debate as of The City Sleeps. If you want to consider the dividing line as how heavy the music is, then The City Sleeps is most definitely a progressive rock album, drawing on hard rock certainly but still a rock album overall. Changing the view to a perspective of technique however and things start getting quite a bit more metal. Just listen to the galloping rhythm of the riff in These Walls for a first class example of what I mean. Regardless of where you want to pigeonhole Touchstone however one thing remains constant, they’re absolutely at the top of their game.

Being a part of the female fronted prog scene that seems to have been gaining some popularity in recent years, Touchstone has one of the best lead singers around in Kim Seviour. Her delivery is melodic and emotive and a true asset to the band. But as good as Kim is I want to give special mention in this review to Touchstone’s second vocalist Rob Cottingham (also keyboardist). Rob doesn’t sing as much Kim does, but when he does his vocals are most definitely of the same calibre as Kim’s. His lines during the gentler parts of the epic When Shadows Fall showcase him at his very best and when both singers duet they complement each other perfectly.

When Shadows Fall is one of two epics on the album, the other being the title track. These two make up some of the very best that the album has to offer, but as with Wintercoast there isn’t a bad track on here, although overall now that I’ve given the album time to sink in I have to say that The City Sleeps doesn’t manage to quite match Wintercoast overall, although it does contain some of the group’s best tracks yet and is a very worthy follow-up to the aforementioned Wintercoast. Despite not topping their previous album, I’m very pleased with Touchstone’s development as a band on The City Sleeps and if this is anything to go by, then Touchstone has a bright and successful career ahead of them. The album comes high recommended.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org), scored at 9.0/10)
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