It's been a few years since San Francisco's Metaphor released their debut album Starfooted back in the late 1990's, but the band is back with another platter of melodic and symphonic prog rock. Similarities to vintage Genesis, Marillion, IQ, and even Spock's Beard pop up a bit on Entertaining Thanatos, but overall the bands intelligent, lyric heavy songs provide for a pleasing yet challenging listen for symphonic rock lovers.
Lead singer and chief lyricist John Mabry has a real good voice, kind of like a cross between Neal Morse and Phil Collins, and puts it to good use on the classic prog sounds of "Socrates." While it's a little hard to decifer the meaning behind the lyrics of this one, other than comparing what life was like back when Socarates was alive to modern day California living, the music is filled with lots of vintage keyboard sounds and the arrangements work quite well. Bursts of Mellotron, synths, and Hackett-inspired guitar leads flow through "Galatea 3.3", a song about the relationship between Pygmalion and Aphrodite, and at times the quirky nature of this song will remind you a bit of Gentle Giant. "When it All Comes Together" is a shorter, complex piece, with hints of Lamb- era Genesis, and "Raking the Bones" , adapted from Chapter 15 of the Finnish epic Kalevala, contains some emotional vocals from Mabry, tasty guitar work from Malcolm Smith, and energetic synth & piano passages courtesy of Marc Spooner.
After the short progressive fusion rocker "Call Me Old and Uninspired" (check out the hot bass work of Jim Anderson) comes the CD's certerpiece, the epic near 18-minute "Yes and No." Kind of like a mini-rock opera, this tune will appeal to fans of early Spock's Beard as well as Gabriel-era Genesis. Mabry gives his all, as he portrays all the characters here while the rest of the band lay down some dramatic and symphonic soundscapes. Lots of Mellotron, synths, and melodic guitar lines flying around on this one! The CD ends with the musically dark and moody "Wheel of the World", a song that ironically deals with the acceptance of life as it comes, regardless of the positives and negatives that may happen. It's a pretty uplifting song lyrically, centering on the beauty of life and its adventures, and a message that some people should listen to. It just might have made more sense to have the arrangements a bit more upbeat to match the lyrical content.
For a modern prog recording that pays homage to the greats of yesterday but still has roots in the present, you can't go wrong with this new release from Metaphor. While some may find the lyrics a bit demanding at times, the music and vocals are quite good, and the production values top notch. Recommended!
1) Socrates (7:59)
2) Galatea 3.3 (7:43)
3) When it all Comes Together (4:17)
4) Raking the Bones (7:43)
5) Call Me Old and Uninspired or Maybe Even Lazy and Tired but Thirteen Heads in the Backyard Says You're Wrong (3:31)
6) Yes & No (17:40)
7) Wheel of the World (7:55)