Kaipa will be a familiar name to many a progressive rock fan, as they were an active and important part the Swedish progressive rock scene since their recording debut in 1976 through to their hiatus in 1982. Band founder and keyboardist Hans Lundin decided to resurrect the band with a new found energy and determination in 2000, fitting effortlessly into today’s vibrant progressive rock/metal scene. Part of that re-introduction was aided by the inclusion of respected musicians from the current Swedish Rock/Metal crowd, so Hans Lundin and vocalist Aleena Gibson are joined by Patrik Lundström – Vocals (Ritual), Jonas Reingold – Bass (Flower Kings, Karmakanic), Morgan Ågren – Drums (Karmakanic) and more recently the addition of guitarist Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) possibly gives the band a slightly harder edge at times.
This is the band’s 13th album – maybe not a vast amount for a band that made it’s debut in 1976, but with 8 of those being recorded in the last 15 years it’s the pattern and growth the band have had since 2000 that shows their ever-evolving attitude. The dual vocal lends each song it’s used on an even more diverse edge and enables the band to capture the mood of each passage to greater effect (the 5 songs on offer here range from 7 minutes to 17 minutes so there are plenty of moods to capture!), and although there is the expected concentration on technical music that the genre demands, there is also a refreshing importance given to the vocal melodies. It also feels like the nature-inspired lyrics form a picture that the music then builds on rather than the other way around.
One of the band’s skills is in evoking the spirit of 70’s prog and recreating it with just enough of a modern twist to enrich rather than clash, especially within the guitar parts. There is so much to please traditional prog fans, with songs like ‘On The Edge Of New Horizons’ and ‘Like A Serpentine’ in particular having elements of classic Genesis and more than a passing nod to Yes (Lundström emulating Jon Anderson’s higher tones in the former – right down to the harmonies), whilst also hinting at everything from Caravan or Camel, through to Eloy. But, possibly down to the inclusion of musicians from The Flower Kings and Karmakanic, there’s always that modern edge if you look for it. But nothing ever sounds out of place as each individual song creates it’s own mood and vibe – especially evident on the title track, but present to varying degrees throughout.
It goes without saying that there is an unfeasible amount of complex rhythms and intricate musicianship on display because at the end of the day Kaipa are a progressive rock band, but they have crafted their own sound and identity in a crowded genre. The album oozes technical guitar, bass and keyboard lines – so many that the analytical ear will be kept busy for weeks, but there are also some nice unexpected touches like the aforementioned melodic vocals and some really fabulous violin passages. This is such an uplifting, optimistic album both lyrically and musically, and anyone with an enjoyment of progressive rock/metal will find plenty to enjoy about this album by such a respected progressive band.
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)