PRESTO BALLET - Peace Among The Ruins

Presto Ballet - Peace Among The Ruins

8 songs
47:21 minutes
***** ****


Early Metal Church was some of the most dynamite metal music ever to be released on this planet, but somehow over the years the energy seemed to leave them, allowing them a couple of merely good albums over the years, but nothing to really arouse you. Guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof was already dangling in prog rock before, releasing two solo albums I don't seem to remember, which is why I was so positively surprised by his new band Presto Ballet. The name sounds unpromising, and the cover artwork is sub-average, but you shouldn't judge this CD by its cover.

It's already starting with its dynamic roller-coast title track, combining different genres into something not quite new, but done with a lot of heart blood. The hard rocking guitars are joined by pumping Hammond organ, and a floating mellotron carpets that seem to be omnipresent throughout the album, put this song somewhere between Deep Purple and Kansas, with a definite progressive edge that is always focused on the song and never on the underlying subtleties. The following The Fringes comes across more epic, and with seven and a half minutes is already the longest song on the album. Although there are parallels to other retro modern prog bands, like Spock's Beard for instance, Presto Ballet never lose themselves in over-long structures and always put the song in the centre of attention. The short Seasons disappoints with a fade-out in the end, but that's already the only noticeable point of criticism I can make. Find The Time is another epic that has a lot of analogue Seventies keyboards ready. The second half starts with the overwhelming Speed Of Time, the dramatic highlight of the album, before Sunshine seamlessly is filling the atmosphere with a light-heartedness that reminds me of early carefree King's X. Slave is another, rare hard-rocker, perfectly done, needs to be said, before the semi-ballad Bringin' It On ends the album on another epic note, staring rather mellow but turning into prog hardrock bombast not unlike Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy.

Peace Among The Ruins is a tremendous debut by experienced musicians. And while it all sounds like a patchwork of ideas borrowed from the most different sources, their retro prog is more refreshing than anything done by the likes of Spock's Beard, Flower Kings or Kaipa (all three good bands in their own respect) recently. The not too long running time and the lack of mediocre song material make for an undisturbed listening pleasure. Next to Umphree's McGee, Presto Ballet are the most promising band on InsideOut Records.

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