Sometimes it takes a while before promos arrive at the office of Background Magazine. In case of these two albums it was definitely a good choice to send both albums. Second Relation is a young Austrian band creating a nice and melancholic kind of progressive rock with metal influences. The band consist of Bastian Berchtold (vocals, bass), Michael Simic (drums), Daniel Flep's (keyboards), Julian Nachbauer (guitar) and Simon Gstöhl (guitar). So far Second Relation recorded two albums: Lynette (2009) and Abiona (2011). Being an independent band these young musicians, financed, produced and released the albums without any help from others. I think for this kind of music the albums sound very mature and can easily compete with other productions with larger budgets and better recording facilities.
Lynette, the debut album of the band, is based upon a character with the same name, but this concept album can be played randomly as well since the individual songs stand completely on its own. On this debut the band members are still searching for their own identity. The songs have been influenced by Opeth and Katatonia and the vocals sometimes resemble Mariusz Duda (Riverside). Musically there's no need to complain; these musicians really know how to play their instruments and the song writing process is above average. Songs that really stand out are the nine-minute piece 18:27, combining the sound of Opeth with Riverside's melancholic vocals; Oblivion, which is based around a strong riff and contains an intense atmosphere, and Inside that blends power chords with softer parts, even referring to more alternative bands like Pearl Jam. Another fine track is Universe, which basically is limited to piano and vocals only.
Two years after Second Relation's debut album, they presented Abiona, another conceptual album with a female title. First thing that strikes me is the progression these musicians have booked in just two years. The album opens with Chance, Aim, Way, Promise and in my opinion the music sounds even tighter than on their debut. The drums are a bit more prominent in the mix and the piano and the keyboards are more balanced with the guitars. Only this piece is already worth the ten euros the album cost on Facebook. Riverside is still a great influence of the band, but in the guitar sound I also recognize Iron Maiden and Sylvan. A strong element is the use of acoustic guitars, to enhance the song's atmosphere; this can be heard in Frightening Silhouettes.
Compared to Lynette the compositions are more balanced and in a way the songs are more coherent slightly gaining an identity of its own. During Velvet And Silk, alternative influences still appear, but also Pink Floyd leave some traces. This piece contains incredible vocals and better balanced background vocals than on the previous album. Strong guitar playing blended with my aforementioned remarks make this song one of the highlights of the album. Don't forget the fine double bass drums!
Motherlight is a composition for which many other bands would sell their soul to the devil just to have it on one of their own albums. On Motherlight everything turns out great: a perfectly built song wherein all instruments stand out. I love the way the guitars sound on top of layers of keyboard while the drums keep it all together. Above all I like the kind of singing of Bastian Berchtold; here his voice hardly resembles Mariusz Duda's. The guitar solos are just, wow, fabulous! And In The End... and ... All Of Us Will Be Identic can be seen as one extended composition in which we get another example of the mature and impressive way this young band writes their songs. The album's last composition is Windows where mellow parts are combined with strong powerful parts. This is alternative music with Iron Maiden riffs drenched in the specific sound of Second Relation.
Personally I'm thrilled that Second Relation have sent their albums to review. Listening to these two albums in succession the progress in their music can clearly be heard. On the debut Lynette, the band members are still searching for an identity of their own, but two years later they have found it and created something that they can proudly call the Second Relation sound. Like I said above, sometimes it takes a while to get an album published or reviewed, but Second Relation's music is worth while listening to. Especially with the second album Abiona they created an album that contains everything to become famous in the progressive rock scene.
***+ / ****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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