Eyesberg - Claustrophobia

(CD 2021, 48:48, Progressive Promotion Records PPRCD093)

The tracks:
  1- Claustrophobia(11:01)
  2- Strange Boy(5:00)
  3- Walking In Storms(9:35)
  4- Salamander Tree(3:10)
  5- Sacrifice(6:31)
  6- We Want You Out!(3:43)
  7- Into The Asylum(6:27)
  8- Final Ride(3:21)

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Originally this was a German band, founded in 1980. unfortunately Eyesberg failed to impress and called it a day. But in 2014 founding members Georg Alfter (guitar and bass) and Norbert Podien (keyboards and additional drum programming) decided to re-unite, along with new member Malcolm Shuttleworth on vocals. The band (with additional guest musicians) released Blue (see review) in 2014, Masquerade (see review) in 2016 and recently the third effort entitled Claustrophobia (2021), featuring Jimmy Keegan (ex Spock's Beard) on drums and Emma Edingloh with backing vocals. The new CD Claustrophobia is a concept about famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. According to the band “the album charts the life of Van Gogh from a disturbed, unloved childhood and adolescence through to a troubled, angst-ridden adulthood, up to his resulting insanity and ultimate suicide.” As a huge fan of Vincent Van Gogh I was very curious how Eyesberg has translated Van Gogh his very troubled and dramatic life into music. I was not familiar with Eyesberg former albums, so this new CD turned out to be my first musical encounter. To me this band sounds as a very pleasant blend of Neo-Prog (Marillion, Pendragon, IQ) and symphonic rock, with obvious hints from Genesis (Tony Banks-like organ and Steve Hackett inspired guitar). The 8 compositions are song-oriented, melodic and harmonic, topped with inspired vocals. My highlights.

The opener Claustrophobia delivers flowing shifting moods, from a slow rhythm to accellarations and bombastic eruptions, embellished with organ runs, synthesizer flights and Mellotron choirs, topped with strong vocals (often evoking 'Eighties Phil Collins') and howling electric guitar leads. In the end a fiery guitar solo with a strong Hackett flavor, finally blended with that wonderful Mellotron choir sound. This long first composition is a good example how Eyesberg has created a fine blend of Neo-Prog and symphonic rock, accessible and tastefully arranged.

The track Walking In Storms starts powerfully in a mid-tempo with rock guitar, powerful bass and dynamic drums. Then short parts with sensitive electric guitar, tender piano and howling guitar. Halfway the music turns dreamy, the sensitive electric guitar work evokes 70s Genesis, wonderful. Sacrifice is the most powerful and dynamic song on this album. First a fluent mid-tempo, then bombastic, with fiery guitar, Mellotron choir, emotional vocals (Fish but higher pitched). Gradually the atmosphere becomes ominous, with Banks-like organ runs. Halfway a Hackett guitar with sustain and slide, very emotional, matching with the dramatic title of this song. The second part delivers lots of musical twist and turns with again Banks-like organ, a synthesizer solo, moving guitar work and outstanding work on drums. In the track We Want You Out! the band presents an atmosphere that fits with the emotional subject featuring rock guitar, a catchy beat and powerful vocals, topped with a heavy guitar solo and synthesizer flights, short but compelling! The next composition Into The Asylum is wonderfully written in the 70s Genesis symphonic rock tradition: very alternating and dynamic, from a slow rhythm to mellow or bombastic, embellished with a beautiful Hackett-like guitar sound, Mellotron choirs, tender piano, bass pedals and intense vocals. In the final part the atmosphere turns into ominous, another well crafted composition. Finally the short song Final Ride, it starts with a fascinating blend of aggressive Robert Fripp type guitar playing (Red-era) and Banks-like organ, in a propulsive mood, with powerful vocals. Then synthesizer flights, Mellotron choirs and moving guitar work, blended with emotional vocals. The music shifts between mellow and bombastic, creating huge tension, what a strong closing section of this outstanding third album by Eyesberg!

I am impressed by Eyesberg, what a strong and tastefully arranged album. And the band has succeeded in capturing the emotions of Vinvent Van Gogh in his dramatic life, highly recommended!

**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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