Despite having gigged extensively between 1979 and 1981, this is the Welsh band's debut album (after 40 years)! The core members of Retreat From Moscow reformed in 2019 and armed with songs old and new, The World As We Knew It is the result.
The quartet are all accomplished musicians, drummer Greg Haver having worked as a producer with the Manic Street Preachers among others.
Full of melody, close vocal harmonies and fabulous guitar breaks, World is a delight from start to finish, gravitating between hard rock and lovely proggy flourishes. Opener The One You Left Behind ebbs and flows, full of choppy keyboards, full-on guitars and superbly integrated vocals.
The intro to Radiation is straight out the UFO playbook, the song being an out and out rocker. Haver's drums drive hard throughout while the keyboards conjure up echoes of Supertramp.
Henrietta's gentle start gradually builds and widens in scope as the jangling guitars suddenly morph into slick licks and then drifts off into a softer, more atmospheric space.
I'm Alive is another big rock-hearted song with lots of dynamic keyboards and dreamy vocals. In contrast, Constantinople's acoustic introduction sets the scene for a dramatic song featuring John Harris on flute before suddenly exploding into a riot of contrasting guitar breaks against a huge wash of sound.
The longest track Home reverts into the more mainstream groove but delivers lots of twists and turns including a lovely piano break and big guitar ending.
Armed Combat has a fabulous rocking vibe while Moving Down features lovely jangling and slide guitars. The huge throaty organ intro of Perception puts you in mind of Uriah Heep, its two guitars giving it lots of texture and tension.
Mandragora is a feast of synthesisers over an irresistible lilting rhythm, and it all closes with Don't Look Back, a slower song with a wonderfully memorable chorus line.
Big thanks to Cosmograf's Robin Armstrong for having the foresight to put out this wonderful album on his Gravity Dream Music label. It was certainly worth the wait and could creep into lots of people's top ten for 2022.
**** Alison Reijman
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