Band: Stewart Bell
Label: Independent Release (2014)
This release is actually labeled: Citizen Cain’s Stewart Bell presents The Antechamber of Being (Part 1)! Now in most musical circles that would be easily seen as the height of pretentiousness, wouldn’t it? But hey this is the Progressive Rock genre and a title like that just about satisfies everyone’s musical thirst. It certainly did mine. We’re looking at seven compositions, coming in at seventy-three minutes of music that is thematic and features five vocalists. Hey…it’s a rock opera…what did you expect? The vocalists include: Simone Rossetti [The Watch], Arjen Anthony Lucassen [Ayreon], Bekah Mhairi Comrie, Phil Allen [Citizen Cain] and Stewart himself. By way of background, Stewart Bell is Prog band Citizen Cain’s main composer and keyboardist and this is a very personal lyrical and musical statement. The concept is based on his personal experiences and speaks about a life-long dreamer, a boy who works to master the ability to control his dreams. Heady stuff, but it plays out well. Each of these seven songs is made up of many different parts weaving a complex tale enveloped by a similarly complex musical cocoon. The music is constantly changing time, tempo, dynamics and structure as the vocalists, each performing a part in this story, tell their part of the tale. And like any story, especially one about dreams, there are moments of dark aggression and moments of sublime tranquility so naturally all of this is projected through both the music and vocal performances. In many respects the music falls into the Symphonic Progressive Rock category by virtue of its complex structure and arrangements but there’s also a hint of Prog-Metal heaviness here and there to spice things up. There is plenty of opportunity for long instrumental sections that are at times powerful and driving in nature and then changing to something more majestic or dramatic. It’s an intense listening experience and one that I’m sure will please prog fans of many different musical stripes. Highly recommended.