Timelock - Sygn Yn

(CD, 2022, 52:15, Freia Music)

The tracks:
  1- Moving Landscapes(4:56)
  2- Stay Awake(6:09)
  3- Everlasting(7:20)
  4- The Devils Hour(9:12)
  5- Heart Of Mine(5:39)
  6- The Great Cover-Up Story(18:59)
         - Pt. 1: Time Slips Away
         - Pt. 2: War Of Words
         - Pt. 3: Revolution
         - Pt. 4: The Glimpse
         - Pt. 5: Footprints In The Sand
         - Pt. 6: Sole Survivor

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Unleashed at the beginning stages of 2022, Sygn Yn is the latest offering by Dutch band, Timelock. They're a group that started out in the nineties, but haven't released any new material in sometime. In 2021, they returned with the EP..Stay Awake... (2021, see review) to give us a little teaser of what was to come and this new album follows hotly on the heels of that release.

They're certainly not holding back on this six-track offering though - each one full of melody, varying moods and tantalising chops. The artwork for this album has an 80's science fiction film quality about it that I also really like. The current line-up consists of Ruud Stoker (vocals, song writing and lyrics), Martin Hendriks (lead/rhythm guitars and song writing), Julian Driessen (keyboards/synthesisers and song writing), Arjen van den Bosch (orchestral arrangements/keyboards and the music for parts 1&4 of The Great Cover Up Story), David Guurink (bass), Rob Boshuijzen (drums), Coby van Oorschot (backing vocals) and Laura Eradus (backing vocals). The album was produced, mixed and mastered by MHX music and sounds really vibrant. The MHX music, collaborative YouTube channel by Martin Hendriks is well worth checking out too - have a look at the link at the end of this review. Swiftly kicking things off is Moving Landscapes. The spacey opening of this song really brings the artwork to life, welcoming the listener on board for a trip to the stars - "Your Sign-in was successful". It's the shortest song on the album, but there's a good upbeat tempo that drives it forward and was a smart choice to open up with. Catchy and full of energy, the band really are in full swing from the start. Lyrics such as "With every step you take, you make your mark upon the earth" getting stuck in your head for days. Rob's drum playing on this one really stands out, as it chops and changes to keep the listener on their toes. It's all about the vocals on Stay Awake with the opening section giving me ABBA vibes (which is a very good thing to these ears). An edited version of this track was available on the EP they released last year and I can see why they chose this song to lead with. I must admit, I do have a soft spot for keyboards and Julian's playing on this song makes them sound plump and juicy - just the way I like them. Ruud singing "Take your time and feel alive" adds to the life affirming feeling this song gives out. It's a catchy and melodic tune and my favourite song on the entire album at the time of writing. The mysterious sounding Everlasting creeps in slowly and brings the pace of the album down a notch. Featuring Eline Osseyoort on some additional vocals, it has some nice little flutters of acoustic guitar playing and a good helping of romantic, accordion-tinged keys. It makes me feel like I'm wandering through a marketplace in a small European town - splendid stuff. David's bass playing here shines through and really drives the track with a sweet groove. The song ends like a gentle lullaby, bringing it to a lovely close. The drums roll in next and the The Devil's Hour bursts through the speakers, bringing the energy levels right back up again. There's just something about the rhythm section on this one that is irresistible and makes me want to head bang to it. Nino Thomas (of brilliant thrash/death metal band, Black Rabbit) provides some heavier vocals towards the end to really add some spice to the album. Clocking in at over nine minutes, it really doesn't feel that long with the pacing and structure of the song having you believe it is much shorter. Next up and complete with its own music video, Heart Of Mine is most certainly the power ballad of the album (every album should have one, right?). The opening acoustic guitar section brings huge emotion to the song and provides a lovely contrast of energy to that of the previous track. Tugging at the heart strings, Martin really does make the guitars sing here and the backing vocals from Coby and Laura are as wonderful as ever. The keyboards add a nice seasoning to the overall flavour of this track, giving it some western movie character. Check out the video to this song on their Bandcamp page. Finally, the epic The Great Cover Up Story arrives to close the album in the most progressively ambitious way. Coming in at just under the 19 minute mark, it's by far the longest track on the album and showcases all band members. It's broken down into six sections and is delectably synthy and cinematic in parts. The first section (Time Slips Away) is the longest piece and starts off quite moody with some richly textured keys before some lovely piano swoops in, accompanied by vocal and spoken word passages. It really does open this final track with dramatic flare. The second section (War Of Words) approaches to the sound of war (feeling all too relevant these days). Again, it brings that energy and passion which is present across the entire album and those blisteing keyboards glide across the solid rhythm section. The third section (Revolution) has a more rough and ready feel to that of the rest of the music on this album with its gruff vocal work, but adds a good dynamic within the structure of this song. The fourth section (The Glimpse) brings it back down once more, adding an orchestral vibe to this already behemoth track. Arjen makes the whole thing sound larger than life. The fifth section (Footprints In The Sand) is kept short and sweet and has some nice vocal harmonies. This then leads us smoothly into the final section (Sole Survivor) which sounds as if it came straight off a Steven Spielberg movie soundtrack. It really rounds the song off nicely, bringing the album to a truly epic conclusion.

The time away combined with the injection of new blood into the band has served them well. It's an album that is ready to whisk you away, far up into the stars. It flirts with the progressive, but still manages to keep things accessible, which is not always an easy thing to achieve. The album accomplishes everything it needs to do, establishing the band once more and firmly bringing them back into the progressive rock arena. This release might just find its way into my personal top ten albums of 2022 at this rate. It's available digitally and in a two-panel digi-sleeve compact disc. Please find the relevant links below.

****+ Rickalonius Monk

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