Here we have the latest album from American neo-progressive rock band Kinetic Element, which have exactly the same line-up as for 2019’s ‘The Face of Life’, with Saint John Coleman (vocals) and Peter Matuchniak (guitar) now firmly established alongside Mike Visaggio (keyboards), Mark Tupko (bass) and Michael Murray (drums, percussion). This is a thematic album working through our desire to conquer space, and the cover art is inspired as it shows a businessman holding a space helmet as he watches an Apollo mission blast off. There are only five tracks, but with only one being well under ten minutes and another nearly twenty this album comes in at an hour in length. Interestingly, there are two songs by Mike, two by Peter and then one where they work together.
Given Peter’s long history in the scene I am somewhat surprised not to hear more of a guitar-oriented nature, but instead he shows why he is such an in-demand guitarist as he easily slips alongside Mike as they move ahead with arrangements which often have been heavily influenced by ELP or Genesis (I know Peter has long been a fan of Hackett). But while Mike and Peter create the melody which draws in the ear, it is important not to overlook the parts being played by Michael and Mark as the quartet all have equal roles to play which allow the arrangements to really take shape while never creating a wall of sound. It would certainly be easy to argue that they are all leading the songs, such is the impact each is having. The drums never sit within a set pattern, the bass is often leading the melody or counter melody, the guitars either provide the support or ramp ahead, while multiple keyboards sounds and styles all have an impact.
Unfortunately, the vocals are not up to the same standard, and Saint John is struggling with the pace of some of the lines and while he has a style which has similarities with Jon Anderson he is not nearly as clean, and often seems to be just slightly off key. With this album the band have made a significant step forward with the music, but the vocals have not matched that movement and consequently it is the instrumental passages which have the most impact. I have listened to this album multiple times, and have felt the same each time I have played it, which is a shame as musically this has a lot to offer.
kev rowland | 3/5 |