THIS WEEK I'M LISTENING TO...25 YARD SCREAMER Natural Satellite (White Knight Music)
Our own natural satellite – the moon – is so familiar yet still enigmatic, revealing few of its secrets overtly, and the same can be said of ‘Natural Satellite’, the seventh studio outing by Welsh progressive trio 25 Yard Screamer. ‘Natural Satellite’ is an album of great splendour which comfortably straddles the divide between progressive rock and progressive metal, and so should delight fans of both. Yet, like the moon, the album reveals its mysteries slowly, presenting at times an almost inscrutable face which adds to its charm.
The band – Nick James (guitars, keyboards and vocals), Matt Clarke (bass) and Donal Owen (drums) – opened their account with ‘The Pictures Within’ back in 2003, although it was with 2007’s ‘Cassandra’ that they began to turn peoples’ heads. They’ve maintained a steady output though, honing their skills and building a fanbase, and are undoubtedly immersed in their music, consummate musicians with a gift for crafting emotive and expressive compositions. Songs flow effortlessly and seamlessly: ‘The Silent Rising’ and ‘Coda Jeremiah’ between them account for almost half the album’s sixty-six minute running time, although neither drag nor overstay their welcome as they play out their stories. Nothing is rushed, and even the shorter songs are at no time forced to a premature conclusion. The playing – obviously – is flawless throughout, generally understated and sublime, but when 25 Yard Screamer do live up to their name and cut loose as, for example, in ‘Never In The Detail’ the results are exciting and seemingly almost unpredictable, with Jeff Rees (the song’s guest lead guitarist) keeping things just on the right side of coming off the track. Magenta keyboard player (and White Knight label boss) Rob Reed also pops up as a guest on opener ‘The Storyteller’.
© John Tucker August 2019