What we have here is a young talented progressive rock band from Philadelphia. On April the 1st 2013, they released their first album, ‘A Lifeblood Psalm’ and added yet another great album to the list of 2013 releases.
Through a competition, vocalist – keyboardist Geoffrey Langley got in touch with NEAL MORSE, who listened to his ideas and directed him to his personal studio, Radiant Studios, where the album was recorded. Although one would expect a direct influence in the music from Neal’s work, the band reminds me more of ECHOLYN, in the way they interestingly use major scales and make tone changes. There is also a lot of time signature change, skilful soloing and – of course – interaction between heavier and more atmospheric parts. In other words, everything that a prog fan would like.
It is evident that Geoffrey’s keyboards and voice lead the direction and the changes in the songs. However, all instruments show their technical prowess, especially in the longer pieces, where there is ample opportunity for improvisation and solos – all structured though and an integral part of the compositions. Special mention goes also to the acoustic guitar parts and the skilful solos, played by guitarists Justin Carlton (also at vocals) and Greek American Steve Kostas. There is also some harp by bass player Richmond Carlton as well as some strings performed by THE NASHVILLE STRING MACHINE.
One of the main advantages of this album is that it is only 46 minutes long. The fact that the band went for a shorter album length rather than a longer one allows the complicated music and the many different song parts to sink in and the best parts to show up. The album consists of an acoustic intro over spoken words, three songs and ‘The Knowledge Enterprise’, a 24-minute epic in 5 parts. Highlights of the album are the 10 minute ‘Her Voice’, in which we have the first bombastic keyboard explosions and the instrumental parts of the aforementioned epic. Another standout track is the mellower ‘Airtight’, which starts off with some beautiful acoustic guitar and later on includes some Chopin influenced classical piano.
The only complaint I can make about this album is the vocals. Geoffrey and Justin’s singing performance isn’t weak – on the contrary the melodies are agreeable and their interaction is well placed. However, they never stand out – nor do they reach the passion necessary to engage the listener. It’s too much backing vocals and no lead. Maybe the intention here is not to distract from the inspiring music. I believe though that this is an area they can improve in their next release.
In a live chat interview to JustIn Case Prog Radio, the band confirmed the origin of their name. During the Second World War, there was a group of intelligence officers, called ‘The Twenty Committee’. Based in Britain, they used double agents in order to spread misleading information in Nazi Germany. Undoubtedly an interesting name for an interesting young band!
All in all, this is a great release from these young musicians. Already it figures in the top 10 fan lists of the crossover genre for 2013. I am sure that this band is going to do even greater things in the future. So if you enjoy good progressive rock, you should definitely keep in touch with THE TWENTY COMMITTEE!