I must admit to doing a bit of a double take when I saw this new album, as I only discovered the underground progressive scene in 1991 and Castanarc had already pretty much finished by then. I reviewed their 1984 debut, ‘Journey To The East’, as it was reissued on CD by Kinesis but had not given much thought to them in a very long time indeed. Mark Holiday (vocals) and David Powell (keyboards) are back from the band who released four albums in the Eighties, with guitarist John Spence being the additional member plus there are some guests, including Neil Duty who was guitarist back in the day. I must confess to having not played their debut in many years but checking out my 1994 review of the debut I said they were produced melodic and progressive rock which fans of Camel or Pendragon should check it out, and that it was based very heavily around Holiday’s vocals.
Much of that is still true today as Castanarc are still based around Holiday’s vocals, but in some ways the most important instrument is the wonderful fretless bass of Pete Robinson and given his impact I must confess to being somewhat surprised he is not a full member of the band. It kicks off with “A Song Rings Out” and we are straight into the wonderful world of neo-prog, but somewhat surprisingly the rest of the album takes a far more middle of the road route. The result is an album which is just too cloying and safe, as if the guys did not want to take any risks, or possibly they have just mellowed out in their old age (none of us are getting any younger to be fair). It is firmly in the middle of the road, and for the most part is fairly bland crossover, with little of the passion or excitement we expected from our prog bands back in the Eighties. Holiday still has a great voice, but there is nothing here which makes me want to listen to it again.