Wednesday, March 28, 2012
RPWL – Beyond Man And Time
You can call it art rock or prog rock and it all means the same to me. I’m sure there are those dear readers out there who would argue with me and say that art rock is this and prog rock is that, and I’d just tell you to save your breath because you aren’t going to convince me one way or the other. To my ears, the differences are so small that I’m not going to even try to figure out what they are.
But I do like art/prog rock, which is why I’m writing this review of the new release by German art rockers (their description) RPWL. According to their bio, they’ve been around 12 years. Also according to their bio, this is their first shot at a concept album. We seem to getting a lot of these concept albums to review lately. Maybe it’s just that time in the great circle of life when every band in existence decides that there just aren’t enough concept albums out in the world.
The concept of this one is based on a line from Nietzsche’s work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. The first of line of this magnum opus reads, “ Six thousand feet beyond man and time….”, so there ya go, the title of the album. Our protagonist is on a journey of insight, a revaluation of values, and he meets various characters of higher knowledge, etc, etc. And that pretty much covers the lyrical content of the album.
There are some very good songs along the way. My favorite is called “The Ugliest Man In The World”, which, contrary to what you might think, is not about former NBA player Sam Cassell, who looks like ET mated with a grouper. The song does have some good lyrical content and probably the best musical themes of anything else on the album. I also really enjoyed “The Road of Creation” and “The Shadow”. Both have very strong musical themes, and also change things up in the musical direction of the album. One little quibble I have, and I’ve mentioned it before in other reviews, is that these are some long songs, and with 11 of them, a long album. It is all pretty much the same tempo, so any kind of change up is welcome, and the 3 tracks mentioned above do change things up nicely.
This is definitely the sort of album that grows on you and rewards you with multiple listens. I enjoyed it from the first time I played it, but if you give it more and more time you begin to hear the many subtleties in the songwriting, like recurring themes that surely represent our protagonist, very nice musical touches that really add to the listening experience instead of just being placed there to show how cool the musicians are, and some solid lyrics. If you are expecting metal, give this a pass because there is nothing remotely metal about this release. But it is solid prog rock and you will be happy you spent some time with this album if that is your cup of tea.