This is an older album but what the hey…it’s a decent debut EP.
The Reasoning kicks off Awakening with the title track & immediately I’m caught up in futuristic keyboards. It’s like Van Halen‘s Eruption if Eddie played the keyboard/synth. The guitar joins the driving space rock progression & I am off to new worlds. A promising opening & for the most part it delivers. The guitar, bass & drums are good standard prog rock but what really makes the song are the keyboard progressions. While Rachel Cohen does a great job with vocals I find the male vocals to be a bit strained; especially when reaching for the upper notes. It feels like the male vocalist is trying to sing over the music rather than with it.
As Chasing Rainbows begins I actually looked around for a dusty, semi-deserted street with 2 gunslingers about to face off. The bass is almost inaudible & then builds, reverb echoing the possible danger. So cool! The lead guitar riff builds the tension and I’m riding along –then the keyboard sweeps in with a wicked awesome chord progression & I realize I’m on Planet WestPlains in Galaxy Outlaw. There’s a little spoken word piece (I’m thinking Queensryche’s Silent Lucidity) & then the rest of the song fades into mediocre for me. The vocals feel strained again–like they are trying to force emotion into their performance. The epic keyboards disappear for the most part & are replaced by a competent yet uninspired piano. Overall, the song fades from a promising beginning…
In a strange shift in mood, Playing the Game starts like a Top 40 song. I might as well be listening to Gavin DeGraw or Jason Mraz…nice music but other than some very sweet piano there’s nothing that’s grabbed me & shaken me out of a growing stupor. The lyrics are decent but again unremarkable. I finally skip ahead (it’s a 4:13 song & I’m fastforwarding…) to 2:56 before there’s even a hint of prog. Sadly it lasts a mere nineteen seconds before disappearing.
The fourth track starts & I hear harpsichord along with some sweet sliding prog guitar. I set my head back & prepare for my Aching Hunger to be sated. I’m to be disappointed. Again, this song isn’t horrible…it’s just a tiny bit off. The vocals are in a very high range & the musical direction is like an Etch-a-Sketch gone haywire. The female/male combo of vocals doesn’t mesh & the harmonies feel flat. There’s a section where Tony Turrell seems to do a call/answer type of singing but it feels more like two people just fighting for the microphone. PS–If you’re singing “Aching hunger, help me feed it” please, for the love of all things prog, ENUNCIATE! For a minute at the end of the song (which was just a slowed down, a capella voice) I swore the lyrics were “Aching Hunger, help me feet it”…That just don’t make no sense.
Sacred Shape opens with some beautiful Celtic influenced harmonizing & then a gorgeous acoustic progression is added in. My eyes pop open & I lean into the music. There’s a hint of Bowie in the slightly distorted male vocal as we approach the heart of the song. Then most of that fanciful stuff fades out during the verse. I’m disappointed but then there it is– sweet guitar licks, the snare drum ticking away in the background and we’re back into solid prog territory. The verses are…interesting. The vocals feel partly spoken & I’m not feeling the mystery the lyrics speak about. The music is quirky, trippy swirly colored prog that shifts & changes like a lava lamp on speed. At 4:00 all the prog-y goodness that I’ve been missing since the end of the second track shows up. Excellent!! The prog gods are smiling & at 5:00 they are fist-pumping as the guitar takes off into what is one of the best progressions on the album. The more I listen to this song the more I like it.
I’m happy that this EP feels like it is back on track & Fallen Angel is a synth-fueled, metal-tinged prog triumph. Rachel Cohen (who I finally realize reminds me of Shirley Manson from Garbage) uses her considerable vocal talents to make this song soar. The guitar here is flawless; the fast progressions and bedrock of bass & I’m feeling a little Rush, Bowie & Floyd. My favorite progression starts at 3:22 and ends at 4:02 but it doesn’t disappear entirely. The Axel F style synthesizer somehow works with all of this. Tony Turrell’s voice is probably best represented on this song as well.
Another shift in mood & tempo has me exploring Shadows of the Mind. A darker song with more gravelly male vocals I find myself singing along–“Hey I’m fine, Yes I’m okay”. The piano fits in beautifully here as a contrast to the darker guitar. As one would expect the guitar has some echo & reverb but then wandering in shadows requires that. I like that Ms Jones vocals are complimented with piano while the male vocal is matched up against a rougher guitar sound. We get another really great guitar piece starting at 5:23 and it rawks!
Within Cold Glass begins & I shiver. The chill of winter is lingering on the intro strings. I’m transported to a dark winter afternoon on snowy moors. This is where I’ve been waiting to go. Rachel’s voice is allowed to shine on it’s own & it’s sharply cold. The Reasoning uses all it’s musical cards on this final hand & we are rewarded with a timeless song. I’m speechless–there isn’t a single false note.
Broken & I’m dreaming/broken & I’m screaming Here without you/life is feeling fine/here without you/captured in cold glass
I’m impressed with this EP & although there are rough patches I am sure that as they’ve grown & matured as a band those have been smoothed over. I would be very intrigued by newer offerings from The Reasoning. Their unique look at prog rock is one of the reasons I am excited to be able to write reviews.
Rachel Cohen along with Owain Roberts (guitar), Tony Turrell (keyboards/vocals), Matthew Cohen (bass) and Jake Bradford-Sharp (drums).