Rating:
N/A
Pure Reason Revolution - Hammer And Anvil
18 October 2010


01. Fight Fire
02. Black Mourning
03. Patriarch
04. Last Man, Last Round
05. Valour
06. Over The Top
07. Never Divide
08. Blitzkrieg
09. Open Insurrection
10. Armistice

Disc I [limited edition DVD]
01. Les Malheurs
02. Black Mourning
03. Apogee
04. Deus Ex Machina
05. Victorious Cupid
06. Fight Fire
07. Valour
08. AVO


This is probably one of the hardest reviews I've written for reasons that will become evident later. For starters let's just clear a couple of things up. First, I haven't been able to make up my mind completely about this release in well over half a year. Secondly, Pure Reason Revolution are without a doubt a brilliant band. Thirdly, and more importantly, in my opinion they are responsible for releasing the single most awesome record in the last decade - their début album The Dark Third. So, there you go, now you know where I stand with this band and we can talk freely about their third album Hammer And Anvil, and why it's been so hard for me to come to a proper opinion.

Pure Reason Revolution are, for the most part, a heavy dark-sided prog rock band. As said, the first album is brilliant prog stuff. However, now comes the hard part, with the EP released after the first album, and the follow-up album Amor Vincit Omnia they've gone half way electronic. And by half way I mean that some of the tracks were really electronica on the par with works of Kraftwerk. Now, bear with me. That is not the way I like my music at all but for some particular reasons the music and the songs grew on me. And while Amor Vincit Omnia was kind of a polar release, the Hammer And Anvil album is a far more refined and coherent album. It's like the band tested the boundaries and now found the sound they are all comfortable with.

So, what kind of a beast is Hammer And Anvil? If you are looking for a decent comparison of the electronic touch on the album, think Paradise Lost on One Second and Host albums, minus a bit of heaviness and gothic feeling. If you can comfortably handle that, this album will easily be to your liking. It kicks off with "Fight Fire" which is one massive punch of an opener. Feeding on industrial wastelands with electronic mixes the band produced a song that takes its time to properly take off the ground on the dance beats and heavy waves of distortions. After that it kind of settles down and moves into more rock based territories. Some songs, like "Last Man, Last Round," are heavier, some, like "Over The Top," more electronic, some, like "Open Insurrection," more progressive than others, but it's never too light mood-wise. The album offers you lots of great musical discoveries as long as you can embrace it all. Personally, I think I could do without the completely electronic "Blitzkrieg" but I'm slowly getting used to it.

What makes Pure Reason Revolution special, though, is that they manage to produce a myriad of sounds and heavily layered music. The subsequent listens will be unveiling details for quite some time to come. It's one of their distinctive features. However, the thing that basically defines their sound for me is the use of vocals. I like vocal harmonies, and Pure Reason Revolution are excellent at those. Two and three voice harmonies, singing the same lines or different, one female and two male voices - this is what first and foremost captured my attention. There are very few bands out there that manage to do it in such a balanced fashion as Pure Reason Revolution. Chloë Alper and Jon Courtney with support from Jamie Willcox make up an excellent vocal team in this regard.

So, there you go. As a band, Pure Reason Revolution are superb, and as much as I've seen footage, they kick ass live. But as far as the music goes, though, you have to decide for yourself whether you like or want to like their mix of prog and electronic. I know what I like about them and I tried to explain that a bit but am not sure whether I succeeded in this or not. As a closing verdict for the album, I'll just add that while I said it's far more coherent and refined than the predecessor, I figure they can still do a lot better on the path they've taken.

PS. A beer when we meet to the one who figures out which song the guitar tune in "Never Divide" resembles at the chorus between "You're all I wanted" and "There is no win." It's been bothering me for a long time and I'm stumped.


 



Written on 12.04.2011 by
Ivor
I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.
More reviews by Ivor ››



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MechanisT - 12.04.2011 at 20:32  
Sounds like something I might enjoy. I'll check them out.
FiaLotta - 12.04.2011 at 20:59  
I know for sure I enjoy it Thanks for a review that describes how the music feels and sounds, best kind of review in my opinion.
But I am not happy over the PS. Now it will bother me too..
BloodTears - 12.04.2011 at 21:18  
What about the people who don't like beer?

I'm still having mixed feelings about this album. I'll wait a little bit more to comment on it properly.
Ivor - 12.04.2011 at 23:42  
Written by FiaLotta on 12.04.2011 at 20:59

I know for sure I enjoy it Thanks for a review that describes how the music feels and sounds, best kind of review in my opinion.
But I am not happy over the PS. Now it will bother me too..

I'm not entirely sure how to interpret your first sentence. Although I first thought you haven't listened to it yet, I'm leaning towards the other explanation that you have and enjoy it. So, which one is it? As for the PS - good! At least I ain't going to be the only one troubled by it.

@BloodTears: If you figure it out, I'm sure we can come to some reasonable agreement whether it's beer or not.

I.
Elio - 13.04.2011 at 00:19  
Uh totally missed this release, have to check it out!
Pétur - 13.04.2011 at 01:30  
Despite me hating Prog with a passion, I decided to check it out. Glad I did, it's really different from other Prog I heard. I really love the electronics, they really shape the sound.
FiaLotta - 13.04.2011 at 02:50  
Written by Ivor on 12.04.2011 at 23:42

Written by FiaLotta on 12.04.2011 at 20:59

I know for sure I enjoy it Thanks for a review that describes how the music feels and sounds, best kind of review in my opinion.
But I am not happy over the PS. Now it will bother me too..

I'm not entirely sure how to interpret your first sentence. Although I first thought you haven't listened to it yet, I'm leaning towards the other explanation that you have and enjoy it. So, which one is it? As for the PS - good! At least I ain't going to be the only one troubled by it.

@BloodTears: If you figure it out, I'm sure we can come to some reasonable agreement whether it's beer or not.

I.


I was listening to it when I wrote the comment, and I have had it for a while
And I haven't figured the PS out yet (if I ever will argghhhh)
Susan - 22.04.2011 at 07:24  
Interesting review - I'm glad you chose to write it after all this time.

When I first heard this album I liked it but didn't love it, not like I loved The Dark Third anyway. But it had always been enjoyable and now after reading this review I'm reminded of it and able to revisit it with somewhat of a fresh perspective. Well, it has triggered quite a PRR kick lately

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