"Long Distance Calling"

By Earthdog

Long Distance Calling are a band from Germany that have been handed the 'post-rock' tag by some but before you run away from this review, I assure you that this band is nothing like the typical "post-rock" band .The truth is Long Distance Calling are more within the prog-rock or psychedelic rock genre than anything else and they are indeed very good. Being a proggy kind of band you would expect a lot of odd timings and complex arrangements but Long Distance Calling manage to sound progressive while keeping things straight-forward and still dishing out some jaw-dropping musical passages. In many respects they are a modern version of bands such as Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and King Crimson with a side order of good old-fashioned hard rock but just to confuse and keep it modern, there is also a nod towards bands like Alice In Chains and even Tool. You could say the band is all over the place in terms of influence but it sure makes for an interesting album. This recording was done the old-school organic way in Hours Studios in Hannover where classic bands such as Eloy, Scorpions and The Rolling Stones recorded some of their most well-known albums. Long Distance Calling are another all-instrumental band which seems to be the 'cool thing to do' right now but what is pleasing is most of these instrumental bands are very good so who can complain anyway?

The album opener, "Into the Black Wide Open" is a totally convincing progressive rock tune complete with varied and rich sound textures but rather than trying to impress with complex time signatures and riffs, the band have a straight-forward rock approach that keep the songs slightly infectious so you can rock out as well as admire their musicianship. "Into the Black Wide Open" is nicely put together, starting out mesmerizing and then going completely off-the-deep-end before calming down for an alluring ending. In short - a great way to start an album. "The Figrin D’an Boogie" is up next and it is like Deep Purple, ELP and Pink Floyd all rolled into one... there is plenty of psychedelic stomping hard rock in the tune but also an underlying quirky prog-rock vibe similar to early Genesis. It is one part a little odd but on the other hand, it has an immediate, catchy edge to it. Moving on to "Invisible Giants" and it is back in the vein of the opening tune, it is full of warmth and captivating musicianship. Same can be said for the following tune titled "Timebends" but they pull out some extra tricks for this one like the jazz-fusion elements in the first half of the track. In the second half of the song, it heads off into heavy-prog land with tons of groove and I get the feeling this band could really kick some serious ass if they wanted to but they seem to pull back before getting too heavy which is a pity to my ears. If you want further evidence of that, listen to "Arecibo (Long Distance Calling)" which has some fine chugging riffing but just as you think they are about to let loose, they once again tighten the reins and keep things steady.

"Middleville" is the main talking point of the album for it is the only song with vocals and the vocals come from none other than ex-Anthrax frontman John Bush. I hate to say it but I feel this is the albums worst track. It just seems awfully generic compared to the rest of the album but I will say, the guitar solos are amazing. The album ends on "Beyond The Void" which is the most melodic tune on the album but also kind of forgettable for my money. There is a bit of a conundrum when it comes to describing this album, on the one hand it is progressive and psychedelic but there is also a 80's metal element kind of vibe. I couldn't help but think about Metallica when they tortured a large section of the metal community with their more progressive than usual 'And Justice for All' album and don't get me wrong, Long Distance Calling sounds nothing like Metallica but there is also something very 1980's about this album. Five tracks out of seven tracks on this album are excellent with the other two comprising one throwaway track in my mind and one average but very listenable tune so I rate this album pretty high in the prog-psychedelic instrumental hard rock stakes. This album is full of surprises without being pompous or overly complex so it is very easy to listen to and appreciate no matter what mood you might be in. Pretty damn good....8/10