This is Greek band Until Rain’s third album release as follow-up to “The Reign of Dreams” (2009) and “Anthem to Creation” (2013). My only encounter with the band was at ProgPower Europe in 2015. What I remember about that was an overwhelming display of soft and heavy progressive music, melodic and extreme metal, growls and commercial pop/rock styles. It was a lot to take in, and friends of mine assured me then that this is a hugely talented band. Now was the time for me to have another go, and find out for myself.
It’s all laid on the table on the opening track “Progressus in Idem”. After an unusual opening, the sound turns djenty, then symphonic. It transforms to a classic “prog-power” style so there are complexity and climactic moments. It’s slow but with growls and prog twists and turns. As it rises in intensity, it extracts the juices and ends with a clunky djent section. I like it. My recollections of Until Rain were of a lot happening but here they have pulled together many styles and created something interesting and mysterious. The intrigue and surprise didn’t end there as “New World Fiction” is much lighter, fresher and more commercial. This makes way for a moody, prog dream world. The vocals are quite high in the range but they’re fine. There are many nice touches and I liked the climbing, dreamy brightness of it all but I do wonder if Until Rain were trying to dazzle us with too many elements here.
The combinations at time are odd. Deep djent is the accompaniment to the high vocals and the prog flying-away-to-the-moon type of stuff. I give credit to Until Rain for their sense of adventure. As a matter of personal taste, I don’t especially like the flying high prog but it’s in context in so far as it can be when there’s such a deep rhythmic line and even growls at one point. Structurally “Because Something Might Happen” is a very clever track, as the soft exhortations of “will she come?” transform into a keyboard-driven piece of pure prog magic. I completely felt this, and that’s what you’re supposed to do with prog. Where I never got Until Rain until I heard this, I realized I was listening to something special here. The high and soft vocals complement the mood perfectly. Acoustic symphony leads off “This Fear”, which expands into a prog self-analysis but more importantly a great song as it progresses in a delightful and interesting way. “This Fear” is soft, but also powerful and dramatic. Another acoustic-type rhythm, this like the soft cascading of leaves, takes us into another lovely and generous song “A Tearful Farewell”. As its title suggests, it has great sadness but it’s a wonderfully rich song, which has the perfect harmony between the lush music and the warm vocals. At this point I could see the influence of the mixer Daniel Cordosa, who deals with Anathema and Anneke van Giersbergen amongst others. “A Tearful Farewell” is immense. Djenty prog with fluttering keyboard sounds take us into the much darker and growly “This Solitude”. I was still getting over the hypnotic “A Tearful Farewell”, so I’m not sure I was ready for such a sinister sound at this point. It’s certainly dynamic and the prog vocal line comes in top of the dark instrumental fare. In a kind of 80s prog throwback, there’s an electronic twist and a kaleidoscope of progressive instrumentals. It’s a lively track but I’m not sure I was ready for this one.
I sense that Until Rain must have had fun creating this album as “Butterfly Invasion” lives up to its title: a sinister siren signaling an invasion of some sort. Until Rain take us through a range of atmospheres, using djent, pure prog and cosmic sounds for this very different musical experience. And it’s all change again as the emotional “Broken Wing” follows. It may be soft but with the luxurious guitar work, symphonic sound and the vocals, which are made for this type of song, there is huge power and impact. Spine-tingling vocals lead us into the dramatic thirteen minute title track. Time is taken to build up the atmosphere and immerse us. Then it clouds over and from growls suddenly the world is a dark place. This is an incredible transition. Music and vocals are in harmony. “You’ve made your choice, now sit back and be silent”, warns the vocalist. There is discomfort, urgent chords, talk of hypocrites. “Open your doors and let me in … no living soul has ever known the truth”. Waves of sound pass through – the dramatic development is intense – and lead to a lively and colourful keyboard passage. “Open your eyes” exhorts the vocalist as the soundscape expands again. The dram continues with a mind-blowing calm instrumental section, which works over and over, capturing my entire mind and imagination. I was so sorry when it ended. This transforming mini-opera was magnificent. “Inure” would have made the perfect end, finishing on such an emotional high as it does, so it was a little disappointing to have a bonus track “Debate”. It’s a very nice and thoughtful song, which brought me back down to earth but I’m not sure if I wanted that.
I saw a side here of Until Rain that I hadn’t see before. There’s great craftsmanship in the sophisticated songs which capture epic moods and feelings without lingering, which can sometimes be the downfall for me of prog bands. I found the continuity of the complex “Inure” strange at times, but this is testimony to the band’s wealth of ideas. What won me over was the quality of not only the blend of ideas but the quality of the musicianship and the atmospheres. Some of these songs are utterly mind-blowing and totally absorbed me as great progressive music does.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)