TILT - Hinterland

(2016, CD, 55:38, Tilt Music TILTCD03)

The tracks:
  1- _Assembly(8:56)
  2- Hinterland(8:00)
  3- Against The Rain(5:02)
  4- No Superman(4:29)
  5- Growing Colder(6:25)
  6- Strontium Burning(5:01)
  7- Bloodline(9:03)
  8- Disassembly_(9:04)

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In early May I received an email from a certain guy named Steve Vantsis. He asked if I was interested in reviewing his album that was going to be released in late June. Not knowing who Steve was, I was interested in this album he was talking about. I should be ashamed, because I didn't know that Steve is the bassist of Fish's band! Stupid me! ... Anyway, let's talk about the album!
The first thing that caught my eye is the embossment on the album sleeve as it's very cool. This is something you don't get with a digital download, right? The band consists of Steve Vantsis (bass, keyboards), Dave Stewart (ex Camel, drums), Paul Humphreys (guitars, keyboards), and Paul Dourley (vocals). Steve is also responsible for the arrangements and producing. Guest musicians are guitarist Robin Boult (Fish), keyboard player John Beck (Fish, It Bites), keyboard player Irvin Duguid, and guitarist John Mitchell (Arena, Frost*, It Bites) who was also responsible for the mixing of the album and the album sounds pretty good-sometimes a bit too much in your face but it doesn't sound cluttered. Paul Dourley is a very good vocalist that has a pleasant voice, which is also a big plus!
The album starts with _Assembly. The intro is spooky and psychedelic, which I really like. Later on it turns into a solid prog rock track that slowly builds up, and the overall theme of the song changes after five minutes. It becomes slightly heavier because of the instrumental passage. Title track Hinterland is very up tempo. It even has a very grungy feel because of the heavy guitars and steady drums, which makes it very interesting. Against The Rain starts with a lovely piano. It's a ballad with a very lovely atmosphere surrounding the complete song. Paul carries a lot of emotion in his voice. No Superman is, again, a super grungy track. This sounds a lot like Soundgarden and Audioslave, as Paul's vocals really comes close to that of Chris Cornell. The piano part in the mid-section of the song is surprising and gives this song a cool twist. This is my favourite track on the album. Growing Colder is another ballad-like track. The chorus is lovely, and makes me want to sing along, and I love the orchestral outro of this song. Strontium Burning starts with guitars and percussion. The song is carrying a dark, haunting vibe, and has another catchy chorus and a splendid guitar solo towards the end. Bloodline starts very gothic. I like the bass sound, which is very present. Later on, the track becomes a real heavy prog rock track, with calmer passages in between. Disassembly_ starts with a piano, and has a long instrumental intro that leans towards ambient music. This track would fit on Marillion's album Marbles (2004) even.
This album can be categorized as real modern prog rock, and this band should be compared to other top class bands in the prog world/scene nowadays! This album will be present in my top 10 of 2016. A must have! Five out of five stars!

***** Iris Hidding (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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