Verbal Delirium first caught the attention back in 2011 with the release of their first album So Close And Yet So Far Away, that they followed up in 2013 with From The Small Hours Of Weakness, on both of which this band of Greek musicians brought some extraordinary new dynamic energy and emotion to the prog table.
Their third album The Imprisoned Words Of Fear takes those elements to an even higher level of performance and production while, at the same time, delving further into the depths of the human psyche, the central theme being love lost due to the fear of saying the right words to articulate feelings at the time. Far from being a Greek tragedy, this is a heart-stoppingly, powerful album, packed with palpable drama and a subtle blend of beautifully balanced musical elements, often with a noticeable classical edge. Central to all of this is the virtuosity of Jargon, the band's singer and one of the keyboards players, a man gifted with great passion and intensity, whose voice conveys an overarching feeling of abandonment and despair throughout the album. The line-up also comprises Stelios Pavlou on drums, George Pagidas on bass, guitarist George Kyriakidis, Nikos Terzis on piano and Nikolas Nikolopoulos on saxophone, flute and Mellotron.
The first track Words starts with the brilliant opening line “Words are pathways leading to the centre of our mind” that, with its gentle, mournful piano-led instrumentation, starts to lead you into the ever-quickening vortex of despair and destitution. However, the tempo picks up through the hard rocker Close To You in which huge guitar riffs are followed by lilting flute motifs. It's a very cleverly constructed song, full of light and shade and slightly sinister Every Breath You Take-type lyrics. Misleading Path encompasses a jazzier groove, punctuated by Nikopoulos's saxophone and some excellent vocal harmonies that give it an almost cinematic quality. Going back into heavier territory, Pavlou has a field day on Images From A Grey World, bringing in numerous changes of rhythm which ramp up the tempo of Kyriadis's guitar playing and it all ends in what sounds like a huge instrumental jam. But it's on The Decayed Reflection (A Verbal Delirium) where the band goes into overdrive, this being a no holds barred meditation on the imminent abandonment of the erstwhile lover. A funky groove begins this journey into blackness, Jargon first singing staccato before launching into the first of three stream of consciousness verbal passages, in which ultimately, he begs to be saved. Within the song, there is also some wonderful piano, Mellotron and guitar work. Fear too carries on the Greek epic journey and the mood of brooding darkness, effective through the sparseness of the instrumentation which starts the track which develops in manifest ways including a beautiful orchestral passage and some incredibly powerful lyrics such as: “Words yearn to be free but my lips jail them like nails.” Finally, In Memory closes the curtains on the soul, the slightly slower pace and doom-laden bass motif drawing the listener deeper and deeper into the morass of pain.
However, this album shows how beauty can be created from the darkness and begs to be listened to over and over again so that the numerous musical and lyrical nuances it holds are not lost. It's definitely a contender for album of the year.
***** Alison Reijman
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