Great Wide Nothing – Hymns for Hungry Spirits, Vol. II (2023)

Great Wide Nothing - Hymns for Hungry Spirits, Vol. II (2023)
Artist: Great Wide Nothing
Album: Hymns for Hungry Spirits, Vol. II
Genre: Neo-Prog
Year Of Release: 2023
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

1. Blind Eye to a Burning House (6:55)
2. The Portal and the Precipice (3:40)
3. Viper (5:45)
4. Inheritor (5:23)
5. To Find the Light, Part Two (19:58)


– Daniel Graham / bass, guitars, vocals
– Dylan Porper / keyboards, guitars, supporting vocals
– Jeff Matthews / drums

Progressive rock must be the musical genre with the most twists and turns since the arrival of the F-35 stealth fighter in aviation! You really never quite know which way things may go, from one album to another, there may be a massive leap forward or backward, only the artist knows for sure. It keeps things certainly interesting. I latched onto US band Great Wide Nothing’s sophomore album “Hymns for Hungry Spirits Vol.1 “, which somehow did not manage to seduce me at all, even after a couple of spins. I have no idea why. But after reading a few glowing accounts of the Vol 2 released in 2023, I risked all my marbles that maybe, perhaps and somehow, I will find a resolution , either sheer bliss or same-old same-old . “The envelope please” resonated loudly , after which I blurted out “It’s amazing!”. 42 minutes of energetic, highly melodic, and pulsating thrills are to be found here. Led by Daniel Graham (gts,b, vocals) and Dylan Proper (keys, gts, vocals) and Jeff Matthews on the human beat machine, this opus may just be a perennial favourite for many years to come as its that impressive. First audition caught my attention, the second had my admiration and finally the third one made me kneel in honour.

The romping opener “Blind Eye to a Burning House” shoves this release into the musical stratosphere with a blinding display of virtuosity from all the players, a vertiginous bass rumble allied to a thumping drum assault, adding sparkling piano flourishes and a lively lead vocal. The sound is somewhat akin to German 70s band Lake and the wicked tune “Key to the Rhyme”, but in a more proggy design. That was then and “The time is now”, indeed. The brief “The Portal and the Precipice” keeps the foot on the pedal, buoyed by a throbbing Hammond carpet ride, underpinned by a tectonic bass line, and slayed by a tortured, scouring, and lethal synth flurry. Relentless, pounding, and insistent, this is strong stuff. Bam? The bombastic “Viper” opts for a grandiose melody with a resolute piano base, like Supertramp on steroids, until the ingenious and shrouded Greg Lake vocals circa “21st Century Schizoid Man” or ELP’s “Knife Edge” kicks you in the mouth, like a coiled snake with the venom at the ready. The piano then takes a more elegant slant to finish off the piece. A glorious trip back into the sunny 80s with the compelling “Inheritor”, a clever tune that has a colossal New Order/The Cure guitar shuffle and a sultry vocal that will rekindle images of a heady pubescent youth of years gone by, where breezy tunes were actually quite solid and memorable. The final electric guitar barrage sound like recent Anathema, a really pleasant surprise.

And finally, we get to the masterpiece, the 20 minute mega epic “To Find the Light pt2 ” , perhaps one of the finest extended pieces in recent memory, that deserves the price of admission on its own merits. Oddly, Part 1 on the previous album didn’t hook me at all, maybe I need to revisit it. It begins innocuously enough with a vaporous Middle Eastern piano motif that gets invigorated by some bruising bass amid choir synths, an ultrasonic drum beat that just propels this monster forward and a slippery synth melody that scours the heavens. The potent mood is then constantly elevated to a higher plane where the slightly nasal vocals tells the tale, the unrelenting chorus sitting divine and confident. This is instantly addictive and pleasing, with enough variations to keep the juices flowing and the ear attentive. That flamboyant Anathema-like bombast guitar shuffle is remarkably effective in overwhelming the senses. Midway through, the atmosphere veers into the dramatic with some excellent stick work from Matthews, as the sensually reptilian bass curls around the volcanic synthesizer slivers with apparent ease. The vivacious piano takes over with a jazzy outlook that is spellbinding especially when we get to then hear a sudden but yanking organ flurry straight out of the classic Brian Auger/Booker T school of Hammond grooving. The sublime vocal returns, now into a delirious anthem that can evoke lighters burning at a concert , singing “we rest a while as we rejoin the human race”. A serene outro puts these starving ghosts to bed. As the vampires say: “Bloody amazing!”. Yup, 5 famished souls
Review by tszirmay

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