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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Maglev - Overwrite the Sin

I’ve always have a soft spot for the Netherlands in the history of the Progressive Rock/Metal scene with bands such as Supersister, Within Temptation, Earth & Fire, Trace, Ayreon, Focus, and Golden Earring. They always have my ears lit up when it comes to both Jazz, Hard Rock, Orchestral, Story-telling, and Adventurous rock as they take me to other worlds on where they would take the Progressive genre and head into those journey’s that is like opening a new book and seeing what is about to happen.

One of the artist from the Netherlands that completely blew me away is an artist name Joost Maglev. He has been writing music when he was a young man and throughout out his grammar school years whilst playing Bass Guitar in various projects. About 14 years ago, he started to record his own music and released his first mini CD entitled, Prelude in which he wrote, sing and played various instruments.

He played not just Bass, but Guitar, Keyboards, and Drums. A virtuoso in the making since he got the ball rolling and then he released his first full-length album back in 2005 entitled Voluntary, and then another mini-album Undeaded Blood in 2008. His influence range from Tim Smith of the Cardiacs, Valensia Clarkson, and Yono Kanno. He is a very busy man when it comes to projects. This year in 2016, he released his first full-length progressive rock album called, Overwrite the Sin.

I’ve always wanted to discover more of the Prog genre. So I remember watching the Album trailer on YouTube and I was on the edge of my seat. I ordered the album straight away from the Kinesis Progressive Rock store website. There are five tracks that clock in between 8 and 9 minutes, and with one clocking in at 12 minutes. I remember putting the album on my little old portable CD player and then, my eyebrows and jaw dropped right to the floor.

It’s this combination of late ‘70s/early ‘80s Album Orientated Rock (AOR), Symphonic, Prog-Pop, Electronic Dance, and Metal thrown into the mix. It’s a strange mix, but it works well to blend it in together and closing your eyes and imagine it is 1975 all over again. Alongside Joost, he brought along Pianist Robby Valentine, Violinist Myrthe van de Weetering, Guitarist Sebas Honing, and backing vocalists Emmy Van Gemert and Scarlet Penta.

Confined starts off with a gentle acoustic/string quartet ballad in the styles of Kansas’ Point of Know Return-era for the first 4-minutes before kicking into overdrive with the elements of Power Metal thrown in and it’s a speeding rhythm punch that Sebas heads into intense riffs and soon to be sing-along sections in the chorus. The lyrics hit with what they have done and the damage they cost in themselves by making them their own worst enemy and the music itself hits like an eruptive bang with an explosion at the right time!

The electrifying and dance-like yet thumping and pounding melodies of Judith, which I think is the character on the front cover of the album done by Emmy herself. Electronic Rock and a cross between ABBA meets Queen’s golden-era from 1974-1976 period, shows Joost writing a mini-opera about her on her obsession with her looks and how she controls and the love of the person’s feelings for her, is disturbing, but it can rock like a shining diamond.

Not to mention that Operatic movement and then back into the forefront to close it off. You gotta love the lyrics of “Thunder strikes! Radioactive Sky!/An arrow through my head/We mourn the fallen 2-14/It betrays! But what does it betray?/A trace of care or love/I’m looking at the smile on your face/But after a second or two: disappear!” You could tell that the guy is really in love with this woman.

Opener, Play the Game starts off with the ‘80s futuristic dystopian atmosphere with synths setting the heavier and melodic ascending tones before delving into the styles of Kayak meets Styx’s Pieces of Eight-era meeting a modern version of Electric Light Orchestra’s Eldorado in the chorus and you could imagine the AOR sound blends well to capture the eruptive way to start it off. Joost knows his influences spot on and he is not messing around, he’s got the chops down!

Song of a Dead Bard begins with a waltz-like acoustic intro before heading into the balladry momentum featuring a Mellotron and the movement through three people into the mini-opera format, features gentle piano and guitar with soaring melodies that you can imagine essence of The Beatles thrown in. And Scarlet Penta’s vocals as the first person, is like a flower ready to burst.

The way she sings is chilling and emotional and I was really amazed of how she nailed the part in the suite and not just the she sings, but getting inside the character’s head and she’s asking the person to sing about as a spirit and thanking them for everything they have done. The closing 12-minute, The Hand of Time is a bitter-sweet finale to close the album off.

The Queen influences along with City Boy, flow in as Sebas goes into the mind of Brian May and feature calming ballad structure followed by more of the climbing rhythm movements that it’s a way to end it up climatic curtain call to a roaring applause before delving into effects of people talking, helicopter noise, and steam pumps. Overwrite the Sin is almost like the mini-Rock Opera style that Joost has written on here.

He is also with the Prog-Metal band Equisa which features Sebas Honing also. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It is soon going to be one of my favorite albums of 2016 and there’s going to be a lot of competition on what will be album of the year for the end of the year. It captures the power and the glory that Joost brings into his songwriting and I hope he continues to do more.

If you love bands like Queen, City Boy, ABBA, Ayreon, and Kansas to name a few, then buckle your seat-belts and enjoy the album adventure of Maglev’s Overwrite the Sin.

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