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The Anabasis

Back From Being Gone

Review by G. W. Hill

This is a killer album. It’s a concept disc with three epic length pieces and several others that are still respectable in terms of length. The musical styles wander between progressive rock and AOR based hard rock along with some metal. It starts off a little less than stellar, so stick around after the first opening section. It’s not that that part is bad, but it doesn’t really foreshadow that power that’s to come.

The lineup alone here is impressive from keyboardist Ryo

Okumoto (Spock’s Beard) to Per Fredrik "PelleK" Åsly (Damnation Angels) on lead vocals, Gerald “Mully” Mulligan (The Lee Abraham Band) on drums, Gordon Tittsworth (Images of Eden, All Too Human) on lead and backing vocals, Lee Abraham (Lee Abraham Band) on bass and Stefan Artwin (Relocator) on lead guitar. Numerous guests round out the lineup. But it’s the music that sells it, and it certainly does that.

Track by Track Review
Rome

Acoustic guitar based motifs lead this out and the first vocals come in over the top of that, rather like folk rock. It shifts towards pure progressive rock from there, though, and I love the killer retro keyboard sounds on the piece. This gets quite hard rocking at times and there are moments that aren’t far removed from heavy metal. There’s a section with some dramatic spoken vocals later. Some of this feels like a proggier version of Rainbow. There’s a bit of soundbite of George W. Bush and seriously screaming guitar soloing follows. Then, around the seven minute mark, it drops way down for a keyboard driven movement. The next vocal section comes in over the top of this new, mellower movement. As it continues out from there various sections are revisited and reworked. This is quite a dynamic and effective piece of music. It’s probably too metallic for some progressive rock purists, but that’s their loss because this is a great piece of music. I particularly like the keyboard dominated movement that comes around in the neighborhood of the twelve minute mark.

Fly
The same basic musical culprits are here in terms of styles represented. In some ways this is closer to a straightforward, hard rocking AOR tune. Of course, there’s still enough drama and variety here to keep it labeled as progressive rock. There’s an especially tasty guitar solo included in this number. We also get a killer extended keyboard solo.
Carpe Diem
This is a metallic jam that’s very much in keeping with hard-edged AOR. It has progressive rock built into the instrumental section that has symphonic leanings, but overall this one is closer to a hard rocking, classic rock sound. It’s straightforward, but also very powerful.
Vikings
Chanting gives way to a spoken section. We get a cool progressive rock melodic section as back drop. As this narration continues some crunch enters. This thing really rocks, and that’s while we still have spoken words. It just kind of builds up gradually as the narration about the history of the Vikings and Romans continues. Then it works out to a killer jam that’s based on a metal chordal riffing with serious progressive rock instrumentation over the top. We get a slow moving, very metallic movement later that serves as the backdrop for some theatrical dialog. It works back out to the main song structure for the next sung vocals. We get some killer instrumental soloing after that section. Still later they take it out to a mellower, more melodic progressive rock movement with some seriously powerful vocal performances. It doesn’t stay there forever, though. Eventually it works out to the harder rocking modes and that section eventually takes it out. At over seventeen-minutes in length this epic is one of the longests piece on show here.
Epiphany
If there’s a song that’s likely to get the prog purists running for cover, this is it. The intro has a definite metallic sound to it. They drop it way down for a melodic ballad movement for the main song structure, though. It does power out towards the metallic later in the piece, too. It kind of alternates between those two sounds, but a fast paced jam with spoken vocals later makes me think of a more modern version of old school Rush. It gets into rap metal as it continues, though, and we get some death metal screams, too. This turns out into a smoking hot jam from there.
Egypt
While this is another that’s metallic in a lot of ways, there are plenty of killer left turns and instrumental jamming to keep the progressive rock fans happy. Of course, those prog rock purists might run for the exits. Still, I love the Eastern tones of a lot of this music. This is another example of extremely dynamic music and some of the instrumental passages on this are among the best of the whole set. I like the section with soulful vocals later and the keyboard soloing that follows it. They take us through many of the same iterations as this continues, then there’s a very melodic progressive rock movement later in the piece. It’s very much in a style that will make the prog purists happy, feeling like a lot of the classic prog of the 1970s. I’m just not sure those people will have remained after the intro to this epic. This is another of the highlights of the set, and that makes it a great choice for disc closer. At almost twenty four minutes in length, it’s also the longest track.
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