Southern Empire – Civilisation
Review by David Kerber
And again an Australian band. Last time I reviewed Dead City Ruins, now it’s Southern Empire’s turn. A progressive rock band that includes former Unitopia members, and is pretty much the only Australian prog rock band I know of. Because next to Southern Empire I only know Unitopia (which does not exist anymore) and Brainstorm, and of course The Australian Pink Floyd Show, but they do not write their own songs.
Now, Civilization is the second album of the Aussies. And with 70 minutes playing time, it has a normal length for Prog-ratios, spread over only 4 songs (nothing unusual either). Stylistically, they are based on IQ, The Flower Kings and Transatlantic, speak beautiful melodies, polyphonic singing and no shyness of half-an-hour Mammoth pieces.
The opener “Goliath’s moon” begins in the style of a 30s song, but quickly slides into an official prog rock song. The sticking point in progressive rock is often the vocals, which in most cases do not do justice to the instrumental class. But Danny Lopresto has an exceptionally good organ for a prog singer and is in no way inferior to the instrumentalists (to whom he also belongs).
“Cries for the lonely” impresses with good melodies, varied songwriting and great solos. It does not feel that the song is shortly under 20 minutes long, because it remains exciting throughout the season.
In principle, the same applies to “The crossroads”. Tougher passages alternate with slower passages and solos. The strings and flute parts are great as well, although they probably come from the conservatory, as no strings or flutists are given in the credits. The saxophone solo towards the end is then a matter of taste. Some like it, others do not, I myself belong to the latter group. Unfortunately, there are very few groups that can manage that the saxophone does not sound annoying. And Southern Empire are not among them (at least on this album).
The bouncer “Innocence & fade” is a completely quiet song. Very melancholic and perfect for dreaming.
Ultimately, Southern Empire has worked out a strong second album, which does not need to hide from the albums of the competition (including Spock’s Beard, The Sea Within). Far more than just an insider tip.
Sean Timms – Keyboards/Vocals/Saxophone
Danny Lopresto – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Cam Blokland – Guitar/Vocals
Brody Green – Drums/Vocals
Jez Martin – Bass/Vocals
Out: 20. Juli 2018
Playing time: 70:15
- Goliath’s Moon
- Cries For The Lonely
- The Crossroads
- Innocence & Fortune
Rating : 9/10
MHF Magazine/David Kerber