Karibow - Holophinium

(2CD, 2016, 60:55/ 36:10, Progressive Promotion Records PPRCD039)

The tracks:
CD 1: The Fragments
  1- Distant Movements
  2- Holophinium
  3- E.G.O.
  4- Victims Of Light
  5- Some Will Fall
  6- Connection Refused
  7- River
  8- Angel Scent
  9- King
10- Quantum Leap
CD 2: Letter From The White Room
  1- Moon
  2- Walk On Water
  3- Orbital Spirits
  4- Eden
  5- Lifelong
  6- Part Of The Century
  7- Plutonian

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Somehow earlier work of the German group/project Karibow, led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Rüsing, has managed to escape my attention, although I have registered the name before and read positive reviews about them. Now they have come with a rather ambitious double CD that features guest musicians including Karsten Stiers (Errorhead), Colin Tench (Corvus Stone), Sean Timms (Unitopia and Southern Empire) and Michael Sadler (Saga).

They have been touring with Saga and Saga is clearly an important influence on the band (is that Ian Crichton himself doing guitar on the title track?!) and when Michael Sadler suddenly pops up, I can't help thinking that the album might have been so much better if he had sung most of the vocals. Which is a shame because Rüsing is a talented and good singer, but (to have my main criticism of this album out of the way) he thinks he sometimes has to bend/draw/distort his vocal lines as is fashionable among some bands. Well, I am sorry, but I must confess that I have come to loathe this kind of singing. Just try Walk On Water from the second disc (which is probably the 'worst' example) and you may understand what I mean. The vocal line of the chorus, and the way they are arranged and performed, is something that I might hear on the radio and that is NO compliment.
Okay, having that out of the way, I must say once more that the singing is good and if you do not suffer from my personal distaste, there is so much to enjoy here. Well, even for me there is a massive load of very good music to enjoy. The instrumentation fine (rather, more than fine) and most melodies are in order. I must admit that not everything captured me and it took a while to warm to the album, but the mixture of prog metal, modern rock and melodic prog is well executed and at one point you will find yourself humming along with some of the melodies or flipping to one of the solos that are sprinkled across the two discs of which I think I prefer the first CD. One of my favourite moments is that symphonic instrumental part of E.G.O.

If you like modern prog rock with the stress on rock, give it a try. And just add a half star or more to my rating if you like the vocals better than I do.

***+ Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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