Reviews - Shadows of the past
Martin Jones Acid Attack Music
Swiss 5 piece band that are back with their latest effort. On their pervious release I'd criticized the murky recording. As the band were young and did all the production themselves, this could have been over looked. Now I find that they have learned from their first release, now getting a much brighter and more realistic sound on this recording. The music is very much still heavy on the side of neo-progressive rock. First track and title cut Shadows of the Past is 7 minutes of textured inter woven guitar and keys with the increasingly strong vocals of Patrick Merz turning the sounds around his voice. Ice and Simple Man both run in at over 10 minutes, and are intriguing workings using to the full both the bands ability to play and their studio talents. Throughout the music you can sense influences that run from Yes, Rush and Marillion to much later 90's bands. Deep Thought is going to find favor amongst the ever growing band of "prog fans" around the world. This CD is finished off with edits of both Shadows' and Ice (aiming at the chance of any airplay that might come their way), along with some PC compatible footage of the band in the studio and press kit. Deep Thought are a young band, taking their music very seriously, and working hard at crafting their production ability. I find the music enough of an attraction to make me want to come back. As both of their CD's seem very much to be a more of a demo offering than a final finished release, I think that shortly we might just get that "classic" release from this band.
Terry Tucker European Progressive Rock Reviews
So Deep Thought return with a mini album and they certainly have advanced since their last release. The only thing they lack is a major record label backing them. Content wise the music and sound have developed and the minor sound problems have been sorted and with a little help this band are so close to something.
The album opens with Shadow of The past where superb keys and good vocals are overtaken by an excellent guitar which is quite powerful and tuneful. In the quiet section the underplayed keys give this song a good atmosphere. The guitar eventually mingles with the keys for the dramatic ending. This track resembles earlier work only it is more advanced and quite powerful when the guitar is let loose.
Ice (not the Camel track) opens quietly with gentle guitar and vocals till the chorus picks up the tempo. There are good keyboards on this track with good melodic guitar in places. The vocals are particularly good on this song and the mid section stands out for special attention as the tuneful guitar eventually turns frenzied and mingles with the Marillion sounding keys.
Simple Man opens progressively and lively then leads into a slow section with guitar and vocals. Eventually early Marillion type keys take over with excellent guitar work. There is a lot going on here with, in places, some thoughtful lyrics. I particularly like the references to ships, bottles and Robin Crusoe. This is the best track Deep Thought have composed. They have taken the best parts of their previous album and developed the ideas. Deep Thought seem to be developing a sound that is almost recognisable as their own (minus the odd nod to Marillion). There are no instrumental tracks on this album, unlike their last one, but with tracks clocking in at over 10 minutes who needs them as there are plenty of good instrumental passages here as it is. Yes, I think we can safely say Deep Thought have taken a step forward with this album and announced their arrival and future intentions.
Jerry Kranitz Jerry Kranitz' Music Pages
Deep Thought is a Swiss band that plays neo-progressive rock with hints of earlier classic progressive. The band consists of Martin Altenbach on drums, Patrick Merz on vocals, Marcel Oehler on guitars, Dominik Pfleghaar on keyboards, and Dominik Rudmann on bass. Shadows Of The Past is their second CD, and they've also released two cassettes.
The disc opens with the title track. An element of Deep Thought's sound that appeals to me is the fuzzy guitar sound that gives it, but not the music itself, a slightly psychedelic edge. The keyboards play a textural role on this track providing a subtle but critical background. The music is standard neo-prog on the one hand, but some of keyboards are highly orchestral and mellotron sounding making for a more classic symphonic progressive sound. I like symphonic progressive but I like to rock out too, and Oehler's guitar wisely chooses to include a dirtier rockin' sound instead of sticking exclusively to the typical clean, soaring licks, which contrasts nicely with what is otherwise a standard neo tune.
Ice is a more full-blown symphonic neo-prog track that IQ and Pendragon fans will love. The keyboards are much fuller, but there are also quieter, gorgeously melodic moments. The fuzzy guitar from Shadows soon takes over briefly giving us that early classic progressive sound heard on Shadows, but then launches into a killer IQ-sounding keyboard run. A really beautiful song with lots of well placed tempo changes.
Simple Man is a great song that has some cool atmospheric passages at the beginning, but soon launches into a full-blown, fast-paced, sympho stunner of a tune. There's a keyboard bit in there that reminds me of "Market Square Heroes", but it's brief. Again, Deep Thought doesn't let the listener settle into any one groove, changing pace continually as the best of progressive rock does. I would, however, have liked to hear the earlier heavy rock section be developed a little further.
The last two tracks are "Edit" versions of Shadows Of The Past and Ice, and, quite frankly, I'm a little confused as to why they've been included. After having just heard really solid full-length versions of these songs I wasn't particularly interested in these shorter versions. I would have preferred another new song.
In summary, Deep thought will appeal to fans of IQ, Pendragon, and early Marillion. There's nothing new here, but what they do is done VERY well. There is only 35 minutes of music, but this is also an Enhanced CD which includes the contents of Deep Thought's internet web site, a film from a recording session, photos, and PDF files. A nice package, but again, I would have preferred the space on the CD be filled with more music.
Juriaan Hage Juriaan's Axiom of Choice
Summary of history
An unknown band from Basel, Switzerland with their home produced demo cd.
Three songs and two short edits (of the first two) on this album. The title track opens dark and moody with keyboards and low, melodic vocals. Then the music burst loose with a psychedelic guitar. Notwithstanding the music tends to stay melodic and somewhat easygoing. My biggest problem with the song is that the singing does not convey any emotion, it's all a bit too much concentrated on getting the melody right and seemingly not on conveying some kind of emotion or anything. The dark chords and also the acoustic guitar in the middle are quite alright. Musically the band has similarities to a new band such as Triangle, but still there's some expressiveness lacking in the especially the vocal rendition. Still the composition is quite nice. The opening of Ice is not very appealling. The lyrics are a bit trite (notwithstanding being true) and the melodic passage that follows does liven the song up a bit, but not as much as it could have. A more powerful sound is needed here. I like the waltzing melody that is the bridge to the vocal part again. The intermezzo is a bit laid back with acoustic guitar, soft keyboards, but at some point the pace goes up dramatically with a keyboard solo. Here, as more often is the case, a lack of good production is felt. As always this is most strongly felt in the recording of the vocals and in this case the drums. I've been told this is usually due to having a less than perfect microphone. Still I like the composition less than its predecessor, especially the first vocal part is weak. The third track and one might say the final one, is Simple Man. Some definite Marillion echoes in here (the frolic keyboards after the first vocal part). The song takes its time getting under way here. The vocal parts are at times a bit wavery and the lyrics sound to me a bit articificial. The bridge part (slightly past the 7 minute mark) sounds quite original and moves right into a part with military drums and mellotronish keyboards. Out of the keyboards comes the acoustic guitar and the final vocal part.
It seems in retrospect that the band feels most at home in the title track of which we find a 4 minute edit. The guitar work spices it song up a bit and the vocals are alright, bordering on jazzy at times. The final track is the short edit of Ice. I wasn't that fond of this track and now they cut of most of the parts that were okay. I like the way it ends though (and like I said earlier the waltz like transition).
This band has a distance to go, if my opinion is worth anything. Productionally we have the usual problems that money and more experience will certainly solve (drums and vocals) and also a more full sound would be advisable. However the music is essentially rather laid back and eruptions are certainly not the rule. Compositionally I thought the title track was well structured, but this does not hold for Ice. Some of the parts are much too weak here and more attention should be given them. This especially holds for the first vocal part, which sounds a bit too easy. Another point of criticism is for the lyrics. Although I'm not a native English speaker or writer myself, the lyrics sound too artificial to my ears. Another way would be to put less an emphasis on the vocals.
Magnus Florin More than music
Deep Thought is a band with a style that would be best described as progressive rock. At first I thought this album was gonna sound only metal, but to my suprise it sounded very soft and not at all as aggressive that I'd expected. First track Shadows of the past was an introduction to the band sound, but also to the very soft vocals from Patrick Merz. I can't say that he'll become one of my new favorite singers, but he has got potentials though to become something very interesting. Even though he's soft stylish I think he needs a bit more intensivity to his voice.
The music is very much similar to bands like Marillion and IQ. There's not the same conecpt or epic feel that these two bands usually do, but in a way Deep Thought has got the same kind of major and space feel. But their style of building up epics is a bit different. A lot of own melodies in their music too, and not just another copy cat.
The two last tracks are edits of Shadows of the past and Ice which is great to put on a CD like this. It helps radio stations to play their songs a bit more often of course.
For fans of long songs with lots of space keyboards, and soft progressive rock!
Stephanie Sollow Progressive World
Deep Thought are a five-piece from Switzerland making music with a decidedly neo-progressive bent. The title track Shadows Of The Past develops along the lines of Script For A Jester's Tear period Marillion, as heard through a Tristan Park/IIúvatar filter, with hints of solo Fish. Vocalist Patrick Merz sings Fish like lyrics with a Fish-like voice (a line like "a mask in the crowd"; cf. Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors). Though in general he sounds nothing like Fish. Which is a good thing, as there are far too many vocalists out there who try very hard to sound like Fish (or Gabriel, or Anderson [either one], etc.). His voice is more at the higher end of mid-range, pleasant but average sounding. I'm also brought to mind of Epilogue.
The IIúvatar comparison comes in with guitarist Marcel Oehler's tone, which is light like Dennis Mullin (especially as on IIúvatar's first release). Dominik Pfleghaar's keys swirl in a Script-era Mark Kelly-like fashion, though a bit more parpish (if that's a word). Ice for example seems to have lifted its keyboards from "Garden Party" raised the pitch and increased the speed.
Three tracks make up this EP release; Simple Man, the longest at 10:14, and is a bit Rush-like its dark intro. You half-expect "Freewill" to begin, but instead it moves into a sedate section with guitar atmospheres over shimmering cymbal accents by drummer Martin Altenbach (think Landberk, perhaps). But the whole "Garden Party"-like vibe is back for the second verse, as we get a bouncy, lively passage that leads into a nice guitar solo... Bassist Dominik Rudmann comes to the fore next, supporting some sparkling guitar phrases by Oehler... there are so many paths this track takes as it fluctuates between a rock context and an ambient context... like waves crashing on the beach that the titular character is stranded on. Lots of nice ideas here, but I doesn't really go anywhere...which, again, is like the Simple Man of the song.
We are also given to edited versions of the first two - heavily edited, as the 7+ minute Shadows Of The Past is distilled down to close to 4 minutes; the 10+ minute Ice is trimmed to just over 3 minutes.
All in all, Shadows flows together nicely, and is actually a rather nice CD, the title track is the strongest. There does need to be a bit more punch in the production, but the playing is quite good, even if you can spot passages seemingly lifted from elsewhere. A band to watch for.
Vitaly Menshikov ProgressoR - Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages
Shadows of the Past is the debut mini-CD by Switzerland's band Deep Thought. Their first full-length CD should be released at the end of the year.
On Shadows of the Past Deep Thought present a very traditional, ordinary, and simple Neo Art-Rock, even though there are no borrowed ideas in their music. The album's title track (1) is the simplest work here. This dramatic song is almost entirely based on the vocals, and a few of the short instrumental parts on it contain quite monotonous solos of guitar, while the parts of all of the other instruments serve mostly as a background for them. Nevertheless, a simple, yet, audible interplay between solos and riffs of electric and bass guitars and passages of synthesizer often supports the vocal parts of here. However, there are too little variation of different vocal and instrumental themes on Shadows of the Past and, thus, too many repetitions of the same verses, couplets, and even instrumental parts.
It must be mentioned that both of the first songs on the album feature, in addition, elements of Neo Prog- Metal, while Simple Man (3) is completely free of them. This song is slightly more diverse than the album's title track both vocally and instrumentally. However, with the exception of a very effective intro, the instrumental arrangements that are present on Simple Man are for most part slow, placid, and plain. As for the vocals, they're of an optimistic rather than dramatic character here, unlike the album's title track.
Ice (2) is the best among these three songs. The compositional and performance characteristics of it conform to the unwritten laws of a high-quality Neo Progressive. The vocal and instrumental arrangements are balanced well on it, and the latter of them are here quite diverse and interesting. Ice is the only song on Shadows of the Past that features the fast and virtuosi solo of synthesizer and a few passages of electric piano, as well as varied interplay between them and solos of electric and bass guitars and passages of acoustic guitar. Dominic Pfleghaar's drumming is on par with the musicianship of each of the other members of the band. Finally, I'd like to mention that Patrick Merz's pronunciation of English is better than that of many of the other non-English language vocalists who sing in English as well.
Most likely, this Swiss band consists of young musicians. So I hope that Deep Thought's first full-length album will be at least of the same compositional and performing level as that of the best song on the Shadows of the Past mini-CD, Ice.
Steve Hedge Zoltan's Progressive Rock Webpage
After reading Tommy's review on Tommy's Forest Of Progressive Rock, I wasn't expecting much from these guys. I'm also not a huge fan of neo-prog, and don't even like the "classics" from that genre. But when I received this CD in the mail recently, I had to give it an open mind.
Okay, so Deep Thought are a neo-prog band. In fact, they also seem interested in gaining commercial attention by including edit versions of two of their epics. But this album isn't terrible either. The music mixes Genesis, Marillion, with a bit of Pink Floyd atmosphere. Their vocalist sings in a mid-range John Wetton, Greg Lake style. He does go out-of-tune once in a while, and sounds amateur-like in some sections. But it's far from horrible although it's the weakest part of the band.
The musicians play interesting music behind the vocal sections. I'm reminded of French theatrical prog bands like Ange and Mona Lisa. The music isn't too complex, but it's colorful and melodic. Digital keyboards supply a mellow atmospheric tone, while the guitarist alternates between clean and distorted settings. And yes the sound is very modern in a late 80's to early 90's sort of way. My favorite sections are the ones that include surprise melodic and chord changes.
Fans of vocal-intensive neo-prog will probably enjoy this album. My guess is that these guys are also using this CD to try to get picked up by a prog record label. So it has that "demo" quality to it, yet it's closer to an official semi-pro release.