Band: A Cosmic Trail
Band Website: www.acosmictrail.com
Label: Pure Prog Records
Label Website: www.pureprog-records.com
Release Date: 2013
This is the second release from Germany’s heavy proggers A Cosmic Trail. The album is entitled II: Mistral and follows up on their first release in 2010. The band is made up of Markus Ullrich (electric-, acoustic & synth guitars, ebow), Richie Seibel (keyboards), Alexander Palma (bass) and Klaus Engl (drums). It’s almost unfair to label the music of A Cosmic Trail as heavy prog, even though there are times where it is definitely heavy, more times than not in fact. The reason I say it’s unfair is that for all the bombastic guitar crunch going on, there are some absolutely beautiful, soft and delicate moments that provide some very emotional counterpoint to these instrumental extravaganzas.
II: Mistral is made up of seven tracks ranging from the short opening “Calm” [1:14} to the longer “In Ertia” [9:25]. Musically the band takes a page out of the symphonic prog genre in terms of musical construction and creates a form of music that features layers and layers of texture. This is one of those times where even though the keyboards are in the background, they form such a strong foundation of atmospheres it really works, allowing the various guitar styles, everything from the aforementioned crunch to extensive ebow droning, to rise to the surface. At times they keys offer up more than just atmospherics resorting to orchestrated strings which adds yet another symphonic layer to these compositions. The structures of these songs allows for them to ebb and flow, building to grand harmonics before drifting off into softer territory to emphasize intricate melodies. Along the way keyboard and guitar do trade off some interesting lead lines ensuring the overall sound remains varied, avoiding the monotone pitfall of some instrumental outfits. The music of A Cosmic Trail is forever changing and weaving new paths; sometimes heavy but many times not: sometimes cinematic, sometimes spacey, and sometimes gut-crunching heavy.
A Cosmic Trail may take some listens to fully appreciate. The first time I put it on, all I heard was the heavy side of the band. But the more times I playedII: Mistral the more I was blown away by the musical variety and dexterity of display. There’s a lot of great music here and I know fans of both heavy prog and symphonic prog will find much to enjoy. Certainly recommended for fans of both styles.