Here is a review by tszirmay originally published on Progarchives.
The album: CORVUS STONE - Corvus Stone (Melodic Revolution Records).
Bewildering volcano of sound!
Corvus Stone is an unfathomable quasi-religious foray into the essence of progressive rock, a delirious symphony of sound, atmospheres and structures where the compositions have merit both as sonic arrangements as well as showcasing individual performances by the musicians involved. They have elected to incorporate a wide array of influences covering the entire prog spectrum, avant-garde Zappaisms, profound psychedelia, pastoral prog -folk, bluesy rock, swirly space, euro- eclectic and the kitchen sink! The whole sonic buffet is rather difficult to assess on first listen, simply to cornucopaic to swallow at first but what a menu! Welcome to Snippetville! All aaaaaboard! Pull up your boxers, here we go!
What a crew this is, three masterful weirdoes surrounded by a few friends! Colin Tench is a sensational guitarist, full of dense invention and almost manic subtlety, displaying a multitude of styles and textures. The Wizard Pasi Koivu from Finland (do you play hockey by chance?) shows his mettle on assorted keyboards and bassist Petri Lemmy Lindstroem has the bass shuffling aggressively ahead. Drummer Robert Wolff is a phenom as well, while the Minstrel's Ghost leader Blake Carpenter shuffles the microphone when prompted.
But I am getting ahead of myself (which is entirely caused by the music within), so let's go back to the beginning then, with a rising velvet curtain, aptly named "The Curtain Rises", where sultry symphonic and avant-garde rock meet in introduction to the wild and wonderful world of Corvus Stone. Colin uses a lot of wah and even more wah-wah pedal on his majestically crafted solo on "October Sad Song" , a kiss ass piece of music than has a modern, proggier version of Traffic and some classic Robin Trower thrown in (not bad, eh?). Sustained beat and bright delivery, there is no way one can leave indifferent and skip ahead to the next one! This is a clinic of blues-based prog rock, swarthy, bellicose, suave and sassy, all in one. Twirling Moogs in sustained embrace with the lewd guitar (I mean "lead"), the bass keeps it all solid and then, outright slippery when coaxed into a jazzier groove.
Things get foxily creative with the swirly "Highway to Emptiness", loaded with sexy guitar meows and synth caresses that playfully excite and fascinate. It's short and it's brilliant with that masculine beat (think Diamond Head -era Phil Manzanera) and a little wisp of Latino influence, a backdrop of raunchy Cubanas dancing and swaying to the beat. Then comes the first real killer track, the galactic waltz of "Ice King" features the dancing duo of flat-out space bliss with colossal psychedelic winds, where flavors of Hawkwind, a touch of DiMeola and a weirdness bred by the likes of Robert Calvert coalesce in shuddering awe! Overwhelming influences and an execution to die for (pun)! The vocal from Blake Carpenter is simply put, chilling. I cannot help being reminded of the Stranglers tune of the almost same name ("The Ice Queen").
On "I'll Leave it all Behind" , the ivories take over on mainly the dirty organ with a little groovy piece of jazz-prog so predominant in Finnish prog, playfully juicy and loaded up with some blistering organ solos, and thrashing guitar , sounding almost like Manfred Mann's Earth Band meet Focus in a jam. Bouncy Helsinki! (Good name for a band).
Besides its moniker "Corvus Stone" should also be the band's outright anthem, a finely set jewel of multiple emeralds, rubies and diamonds. Thrown in some topaz, jade, opal and pearls! It all starts out lightly jazzy and then just blooms into a masterful composition that is an absolute emphasis on style and substance. Colin Tench displays his utter guitarring talent, bending notes like a madman, Koivu kills on synth, oozing like molten seed into every crevice and every orifice. The piano work adds exalted passion and the whole just cooks like liquefied foundry of steel. Bassist Petri Lemmy Lindstroem hangs around the guardrail, riffling along for the untamed ride. This will appeal to all fans of prog, its intense darker side toying with their innate zaniness.
The stellar "Moron Season" is stunningly fragile at first, one of those typical Brit folk-rock that feature Carpenter's woozy voice but then thunderously veering into an outright 'Highway Star' boogie, bass searchlights scouring the horizon (I haven't heard stuff like his since J.Geils) , slight adjustment near Canterbury and then , daring to lick "Smoke on the Water", tongue not just in cheek, if you see what I mean!. Nasty and clever, Mr. Wilson would love this! Growling organ dueling with the fiery guitar, now that's nice!
Little ditties also have a place in the nursery, as "Horizon" drives down the country road, "how y'all doin?" those funny Europeans. Cutesy! Almost Beatles 2012. "Intermission" has a pastoral acoustic barely 41 seconds long (Cutesy).
"Moustaches in Massachusetts" is hilarious take on DiMeola era, more rock-jazz than jazz- rock, with whiffs of Carlos Santana of the Caravanserai air, a universe where the sheer and elegant brutality of the electric guitar rules divine, adorned by looping organ motifs and some deadly bass propellers. The drumming is particularly effective, the atmosphere turning denser, heavier and more psychedelic. Slashing guitar throttles the bruising keyboards on the way out. Phew!
"Pilgrims" is a rumbling, clanking sympho-prog monolith with bruising keyboards and whirling dervish guitar solos, alternating delicacy and sizzle. Wolff's drumming is authorative and precise. A fine little workout!
"Jussi Pussi" is lewd in an almost Zappa with Steve Vai way, proposing a playful, "kani'kani boo-boo" carousel in the circus ground, goofball Canterbury silliness. This is nutty, bizarre (some Gong-isms in the vocal effect department) but bloody delightful!
"Iron Pillows" ratchets it up, careening into a King Crimson groove circa "Red" but with some slippery Phil Manzanera-style axe playing, churning organ adding luster and fluster. Rock solid drumming from Robert Wolff keeps this firmly entrenched in your mind. The sense of eternal progress is quite evident in the arsenal-like delivery; these guys are really into it, darn! Nothing soap commercial or sappy fodder here! Just real creative music, played to the hilt breathlessly.
"After Solstice" gets weird, oblique and slightly dissonant, a tortuous slither of strangeitude and deflection, Colin's weeping instrument carving nicely into the ivory whirl. I guess the best way to describe this is a prog-aerobic soundtrack (one-two-three-four, and repeat sideways). This segues nicely into a Robert Wolff little drum solo and a mournful vocoded piece, "Lost and Found".
"Scary Movie" is a highlight track, an absolutely ominous slab ob hulking heavy prog-rock, with a cinematic, Panavision-style grooming, nice binary bulldozing riff that slowly emanates virile from the ambient din. Boom!
"Cinema" is the epic, sweeping orchestral adornments abound, now deadly serious in their melodic approach, settling down a powerful groove (that delicious bass again) and sprinkling some fabulous acoustic guitar soloing and then positively exploding on lead guitar , evoking cloudy cellars and gritty streets, decadent cafes with blasÃ© faces, clowns tossing oranges in the midnight sky. Cinematic is correct in my books, dreamy sections wash over the loudspeakers, the raven-haired beauty in the red dress slurps her mojito in languorous flicks of her tongue. The bartender worried about how late he will be home, the pilfered scotch bottle already wearing its kilt, kneeling at the shrine of girlie magazines stashed akimbo. A phenomenal piece of music, instrumental genius and what a mood! The soloists shine brightly, Tench ripping off one for the ages, tortured, sanguine and resolute. Power and delicacy, what a combo! Koivu paints and Lindstroem rumbles. Darn, this is classic terrific!
Following that monster is no easy feat "You're so Wrong" plays it safe, flute quivering gracefully and the only vocal from Blake Carpenter of the amazing Minstrel's Ghost shows its face, very much like something early Caravan would create, a relaxed symphony of accessible folky pop. Pleasant and fluffy.
"The Ice King Instrumental" only confirms the brilliance of the song, the instrumental prowess on display is second to none. Lush, deviously crafty, seductive and utterly charming, this one burrows very deeply into your soul, yummy!
The lewdly titled "Ten Inch Lisa" is a sprightly wee ode.
Bonus track 1= The silly and confused paranoia of "The Stones Meet Cheryl?" is evocative of circus-like insanity, bizarre effects, brutal noises, marshaling beat, doom keyboard slams, brash guitar rams and pulsator flexing drums. Heavy bombs here and I love it, Bonus track 2= "Cinema- alternate version"
I have rarely heard such a long (70 minutes worth) and lustrous premiere album, with so many gargantuan yet condensed compositions, stellar playing and endless cheery spirit. Some will be turned off by all the stylistic changes that wrongly give the sense of under- development; they just don't like to overstay their welcome. But if you listen to it as a whole, the enjoyment is enhanced by the breathless procession , as weird as it may seem at times. This is Nuggetville, so many gems to choose from. Who cares if it's a tad helter- skelter? That's their style, eccentric, iconoclastic, eclectic and adventurous. They have musical balls and so do you.
A band to follow intently. A glorious debut with so much to enjoy.
Instant gratification, racing pulse, visions of Emerald Beyond, tongue sticking out etc...Please be civil