I don’t think it is possible for Roine Stolt to release a bad album, no matter what band he is involved with, and here we have the fifteenth studio effort from the group who took their name from his incredible 1994 solo album, which I loved when it came out. It thrust the name of the ex-Kaipa guitarist right into the heart of the underground, and in these days of the internet it is hard to explain just how big an impact it had on the scene when it was released, back when all anyone had were a few fanzines and word of mouth. Since then, there have been various musicians through the group, and to be honest as long as Roine is there in control of it all that is all that matters.
But, one of the major issues he has always had is a refusal to self-edit as much as he should, and it is not unusual to release albums which are overlong and should have been cut back in size. At 94 minutes this is not their longest release, but that is still pretty lengthy and demands two CDs, and here they have used the opportunity to spread their wings and sit strongly within symphonic prog yet also bring in influences from other areas as well. It is an album which takes quite a bit of listening to, as it takes quite a bit of time to really get inside, even though it feels highly commercial and the musicianship is stunning. I did smile when I saw Rob Townsend guesting on sac (and his addition is inspired), given the last time I saw him was in his normal day job with Steve Hackett, who on the last tour had Jonas Reingold on bass. The first time I played it all the way through I kept looking to see when it was ending and how much longer it had to go until it finished, but the next time I just let myself fall into the music, with the result being the realisation that this is another very good album indeed. Not up to the standard of ‘Waiting For Miracles’ perhaps, but still very enjoyable for all progheads.