Band: Flaming Row
Genre: Progressive Rock
The 21st century has presented its fair share of problems for the music industry. Piracy is rampant and sales have been steadily declining, however technology has also brought some important benefits to musicians. Artists from Germany can record with musicians from all over the world, and it has never been easier to record a crisper, cleaner debut album.
These tidbits are not lost on new German progressive rockers Flaming Row, who have recently released their first album, Elinoire. With a sound acts from previous decades would have killed for and guests including Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery), Brendt Allman (Shadow Gallery), and Billy Sherwood (ex-Yes) the album certainly had the potential to be great, but in the end itís the songwriting that matters. And itís the songwriting that is the most impressive element of this album.
Headed up by Martin Schnella and Kiri Geile, the album Elinoire has come from nowhere to become the best album Iíve heard so far this year. While the albumís concept is similar to Ayreonís The Human Equation, Flaming Row brings an art-rock approach to the concept, often sounding more like Phideaux than Ayreon. And while I can say this album sounds very fresh there are still passages that remind me of Shadow Gallery or Ayreon. But these comparisons are valid for only brief passages on the album. For the most part a diverse cast of over a dozen vocalists brings the album to life and provide beautiful melodies throughout. I will even go so far to say that the various female vocalists on this album are better utilized than the woman on any Ayreon album.
As impressive as the vocals are on this album, the array of instruments is equally impressive. Over a dozen instruments are used on the album and all seem to fit in perfectly with Schnellaís beautiful arrangements. While Schnella has made albums with other bands before, his ability to write music for a project of this magnitude is simply stunning to me. I havenít been this floored by a debut since Demians introduced the world to Building an Empire. But whereas that album was written and recorded by one man, Elinoire adds many talented people, and manages to use them all brilliantly.
Elinoire has masterful songwriting, a great sound, many talented musicians, and even a few flashy solos. I truly donít know if any prog fan could ask for more. Releases from Opeth, Dream Theater, and Steven Wilson are right around the corner. But for now Flaming Row sits atop the mountain as the band to beat this year.
Nickís Rating: 10/10