THIS WEEK I'M LISTENING TO...MIDNIGHT SUN Dark Tide Rising (Sonicbond)
Although sometimes overlooked in the haste to see what’s happening in Scandinavia, the British progressive scene is a very healthy genre indeed and Midnight Sun’s contribution is further evidence that the garden is indeed coming up roses. Based in Stroud, the six-piece band are an almost quintessential British progressive outfit with a clutch of largely lengthy and overtly opulent compositions to their name, six of which have made it to their debut album ‘Dark Tide Rising’. Straddling the loose divide between progressive rock and progressive metal, the band (vocalist Huw Lloyd-Jones, guitarists Andy Gelband and Ben Swanwick, keyboard player Ian Hodson, bassist Sean Spear and drummer Chris Habicht) should appeal to aficionados of both camps. Passages of sublime beauty stand shoulder to shoulder with heavier, crunching riffs, giving the songs huge scope within which to showcase the musicians’ abilities and lyrical sensibilities - many of which appear to point to loss and sadness.
Across the album the songs flow effortlessly. Second cut ‘Clouds’ does an excellent job of showcasing the best of the band, unveiling over eight minutes and taking a ride from the soft and gentle to reveal its teeth around the halfway mark. A great guitar solo and a superb vocal performance (in Lloyd-Jones – also known for his work with Unto Us and Also Eden – Midnight Sun have a singer of no mean talent) top off a beautifully composed song and, even if the band never do anything else, ‘Clouds’ should ensure that people are talking about them for years to come. The nine-and-a-half minute ‘Early Warning’ treads a similar path, although places more emphasis on Hodson’s work behind the keyboards.
A superb way to make an entrance, ‘Dark Tide Rising’ is rounded off by a single edit of ‘Clouds’ which, even with more than three minutes lopped off, still retains its identity and charisma.
© John Tucker June 2019