Here is an interesting little nugget form Switzerland. The fact that it was released in 1981 makes it even more fascinating. It owes almost nothing to the sounds of the time. I could say that this was recorded in the mid ’70s, and no one would be the wiser. It is a unique blend of classic arena rock, British style keyboards, and a touch of euro-pop balladry. Imagine Rush meets Yes, gets a visit from Deep Purple, and melt cheese on the top.
When these guys are good, they are fantastic. The instrumentals are some of the best prog has to offer. The problems start with the vocals. Perhaps it would have been better in their native language. The accent is sometimes a bit thick. This also could explain problems with lyrical content, which absolutely makes me cringe at times. Coupled with a very sugary melody on “You Know my Ways,” I am in fear of going into a diabetic coma (or at least gagging). If you can stand it, it’s actually good for a laugh. “Willing and Ready to Face It” is as cheesy as formula rockers come (this could be where Europe got its inspiration).
There are some good rockers. “Behind the Spider’s Web” would make the Scorpions pack up and go home. “Shellycoat” is well-executed little medieval folk piece, and lets you know that there is some depth to this band. As you would expect, the real strength is in the epic tracks. “Dragonfly,” and “The Riddle Princess,” both have all those elements that I love about ’70s style symphonic prog. These guys deliver the goods too. They have what it takes to pull this kind of thing off, and don’t sound like they are copying anyone else.
In the end I am of two minds about this album. The good tracks are great, but the lesser moments are really poor. Thankfully, There is much more to love than to throw away. It’s too bad they just didn’t release a shorter album. It could have been a classic. So, is it essential? The answer is no. There is no need to seek this one out. However, if you do happen to run across it, definitely pick it up.
René Bühler – lead vocals, percussion
Markus Husi – keyboards
Marcel Ege – guitars
Klaus Moennig – bass, Taurus bass pedals, backing vocals
Beat Bösiger – drums
Patrick Baumgartner – bass on track 6