"Corvus Stone"

By Dr. Abner Mality

The over the top days of 70's prog rock extravagance are reincarnated in Corvus Stone. This multi-national conglomerate has put together a release with no less than 23 tracks for adventurous (and determined) minds to wander through.  The ambition is to be admired and the execution is spot on, but I think seven tracks could have been easily cut from this with no loss to anyone.

The band is about 75% instrumental, with vocals only popping up now and then. I do miss the vocals on some tunes and over the great length of the album, they would have added more interest. But Corvus Stone is about instrumental interplay and they really excel at that. The prog here ranges from bombastic, complex soundscapes to bluesy rock to jazz fusion to almost ambient sounds. The guitar playing throughout is superior and kind of reminds me of Clapton-meets-Gilmour in how it can switch from laidback groove to hard rocking jams. The bass playing here is also exceptional and you can be entertained just by listening to bass alone. Needless to say, the keys and drums are also fine and the way the instruments weave amongst each other is a highlight of the album.

You have to have a feel for earlier prog music for the material to work fully. Anyone expecting another Dream Theater or Tool clone is going to be scratching their head. However, these guys keep it just shy of being total retro worship...there's a touch of modernity to the music there. Not huge, but it's there.

Highlights for me were the nicely rocking "Highway to Emptiness", the complex "Corvus Stone" and "Moron Season", which opens softly before going into a hard funk/blues jam. The album's setpiece is the ten minute plus "Cinema" and by the time this rolls around, you've kind of already heard everything Corvus has got.

The album is highly recommended to pure prog fans, but these guys could use a strong hand to trim the fat on their next effort.