Scythe - Divorced Land

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Galileo Records
Catalog Number: GR004
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:55:00

A band that starts its debut album with an outro certainly deserves a close inspection. From the opening chords of "Outro ? A Striving After Wind," it becomes clear that melody will play a very important role in this dramatic music. The dark atmosphere of "Am I Really Here?" contains more Happy The Man references than the obvious Genesis comparison. With vocals backed by piano and guitar outbursts emphasizing the lyrical content, of course the name Genesis will be an obvious choice, especially as most of the keyboard parts will clearly wear the Tony Banks trademark. Foremost it's a track that contains loads of unpredictable mood changes which, to me, is one of the main attractions within the genre.

Instead of going for the logical Genesis clone treatment, the band tries to sound as contemporary as can be. Hence the inclusion of "Faded," a song based on interaction between bass and drums, almost resulting in alternative reggae. The modern-prog approach continues throughout "One Step Further" which contains some indie influences and plenty of time signature changes, even incorporating polka drenched in Wakeman-like layers of synth. The only bit of criticism here might be the uncertain sounding vocals towards the 10-minute mark. Imagine Trespass-era Genesis treated the new millennium way and you get close to what's on offer during "The Weight Of The Wind." Especially the organ sound is very reminiscent of Banks, whilst the guitar is very much Hackett all over. But then some jazzy piano starts confusing us all, taking the song into a different direction altogether.

The bass is played in true Tony Levin fashion (thus with wooden sticks on the fingers), during the menacingly creepy atmosphere of "Discussed," a song which follows a very repetitive pattern whilst the vocals are almost church-like in the beginning. With a train sample used as rhythm, "Naivety" is a rather solemn sounding instrumental followed in its footsteps by the speedy "Run." Here the bass plays a very important role, almost becoming like a heartbeat, whilst the rest of the instruments kind of improvise in order to deliver the lava from their musical volcano. The electronic piano then introduces some jazzy material to the song before ending in "Riders On The Storm" fashion, whilst another explosion of sound makes way for yet another change. The album closes with "Denied," one of the most recent Scythe compositions and one which holds new elements such as acoustic guitar and full orchestration. Again, lots of nice melodies keep this lengthy track together, such as the fragile singing in the beginning of the song. Plenty of subtle piano fills also underline the classical influences, but once the organ is introduced, Belgian band Isopoda comes to the fore. It is one of the strongest pieces on the album and certainly marks a direction Scythe should continue following as it contains enough options to make new material sound very interesting.

Instead of falling into the trap of either neo-prog or becoming a clone, Scythe has opted for a younger approach using well known themes but abandoning them in time before it starts sounding too cliché. The result is a fresh album showing the great skills of this quartet including a great talent for composition. No doubt we'll hear more of these guys, but may I suggest they look for another sleeve designer as this one really sucks and in no way illustrates the musical content. Or was this the idea all along, gentlemen?

Outro - A Striving After Wind / Am I Really Here ? / Faded / One Step Further / The Weight Of The Wind / Access / Discussed / Naivety / Run / Denied

Udo Gerhards - piano, organ, synthesizers
Ingo Roden - bass
Thomas Thielen - vocals, guitars, keyboards
Martin Walter - drums


Verena Buchholz - flutes

Each Other (1999)
Divorced Land (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CH

Added: August 2nd 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 805
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]