By Henri Strik
(Edited by Robert James Pashman)
The British band IO Earth made with their eponymous album (see review) for me personally the most impressive album of 2009. On this release you could hear a blend of different musical styles made by two friends who seemingly write music with their eyes closed. Those who in the meantime discovered the band as well know that I am talking about the two multi – instrumentalists Dave Cureton and Adam Gough. In 2012 the same duo released Moments (see review). This successor was of the same calibre, but I guess this time the surprise was gone. Again the same kind of outstanding music could be enjoyed which in a way was strongly related to their debut. Therefore it wasn’t so strange that I regarded it as one of my highlights of 2012! Three years later the band released their third album New World.
Again a double CD can be enjoyed just like the case was with their debut. Within the band, there were some line-up changes and extensions so that IO Earth are now grown into a septet. However, the main characters are still the two multi-instrumentalists Dave Cureton (guitars, vocals keyboards) and Adam Gough (keyboards, guitars, Theremin and vocals), who are also responsible for the compositions as well. You might say that after them the most important person in the band is the Norwegian female lead singer Linda Odinsen, who makes her debut on this release. But this doesn’t mean that she is a rookie in the band. Many times she already replaced former lead singer Claire Malin when she wasn’t available when the band had to do a concert. She even replaced Claire permanently after a while. Saxophonist, EWI player and flutist Luke Shingler is still on board next to bassist Christian Nokes. The other two new faces in the band are drummer Christian Jerromes and Jez King completing the new line up. The last one can be heard on the mandolin and violin. As always, some guest players are present on the band’s albums. Like on the former releases can we find Steve Trigg playing on the trumpets and Flugel horns. But I guess the most important guest overall is percussionist Ed Mann-a musician who played with Frank Zappa in the past.
New World isn’t just an album you play while doing the dishes or reading the newspaper. No distractions are allowed. You just have to keep focused during the almost two hours of intense music. This way you can even better understand the whole concept the album deals about which is about living in a world of adversity but pulling through no matter what it takes to make a better world-a new world. The music that comes along with this interesting concept provides a multifaceted listening experience. Therefore you might say that this band isn’t just a progressive rock act only. They serve the listener a melting pot of several different musical styles which include influences taken from metal, ethnic music, Gothic, classical music, jazz, folk, pop, rock and of course progressive rock. This variety of musical styles can be heard on sixteen different tracks, which make sure you never have a dull moment. Every composition has something to tell music wise. I will try to sum up what you can expect on every track in only a few words.
Right from the start with the opening piece Move As One you are in the musical spell of IO Earth. It is a beautiful mellow piece of music which moves towards the style of music which you can hear on albums made by a band such as Iona. During the next track Redemption the band shows in an excellent way how to play heavy guitar music next to very melodic guitar playing. A leading role is found here for Dave Cureton on his electric guitar. Furthermore, the classical influences mixed with ethnic music works perfectly. Journey To Discovery is a very fine up tempo piece with a fine synthesizer solo. Trance has a lot of ethic musical influences and features a fine Miles Davis-like trumpet solo. Morning has a beautiful orchestral sound mixed with strong folk elements. The first instrumental is Collision. Here are leading roles for the earlier mentioned Ed Mann and Jennie Appleyard on cello. Fade To Grey is another kind of mellow piece of music with some occasional heavy musical eruptions and a leading role from the saxophone and electric guitar. The second instrumental New World Suite ends the first disc in a rather classical way. Here are in a beautiful way the orchestral parts combined with the more modern progressive rock structures.
The second disc opens with Insomnia and thanks to the choir parts we can enjoy some strong Gothic influences. On Red Smoke the band mixes perfectly heavy guitar parts with relaxing mellow parts. The Rising is the third and last instrumental on this double album. It is most of all Cureton who shows his melodic side on this track by playing some amazing parts on his electric guitar. On Body And Soul the spotlight is most of all on singer Odinsen who sings very strong vocal parts which reminded me of Mostly Autumn’s Olivia Sparnenn. The Gothic influences also come once again to the surface thanks to the choir parts. Colours sounds like a hard rock piece but has more to offer when you listen more carefully. Pink Floyd type sound fragments can be heard during the start of Follow before the song continues in a rather up tempo pace. Male lead vocals dominate the song for the first time. The pace goes again slower during the track Dreams and again male lead vocals can be heard. It has to be said that this song has to be heard a couple of times while you are getting into it. The title track New World ends the second disc. You are back in the seat after the rather laid back Dreams. Once again it’s time to kick some ass music wise. The band gives for the last time everything they have in store. The song has a very strong up tempo beat which makes you want to tap along with it. The guitars once again rock and you do hear for the very last time some beautiful orchestral ethnic musical parts. All you can do is gasp for air!
IO Earth’s New World is melodic progressive rock, as you want it, combining tradition and modernity. Great moments, great emotions, epic arrangements, wild instrumental departures, lyrical passages-everything is in it-everything is there to enchant the listener to move into other worlds and to astonish. For me personally, this release is a true masterpiece and their best work so far. It was for me certainly one of the musical highlights of 2015. Therefore the highest score of five stars are in place. Highly recommended to everybody who likes a melting pot of different musical styles.
Henri Strik: 5 stars
By Henri Strik