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Land Of Chocolate: Regaining The Feel

It is said that the acorn never falls very far from the tree. If the tree is Gentle Giant, for example, then it could be argued that one of the acorns would be Echolyn. Yet that acorn fell many years ago and has become a tree in it's own right. It could thus be argued that it's acorn is Land Of Chocolate . Other than the very obvious link of each band having a Buzby handling keyboards and vocals, other similarities exist. Both bands offer a relatively lyric-heavy style of progressive rock, with a heavy emphasis on odd metered time signatures , tight arrangements, and vocal harmonizations. The student, alas, is not up to par with the teacher, who has yet to be on par with the master.

Land Of Chocolate scores points in many categories, but falls short in others. As mentionned above, the band sounds very tight, yet the wall-to-wall vocals tend to hold the music back. One does not always drive 55 when one is sitting behind the wheel of a muscle car. Once in a while, it's good to rinse the engine to keep all the parts working well. Although Mr Buzby is an adequate vocalist, he's not the strongest or most charismatic front man, and should relegate the lead role to other members on occasion or at least remember that silence can be golden. The tracks go through some interesting tempo fluctuations, but in keeping with the constant vocals, never seem to venture very far off a predetermined path; thus never become all that adventuresome. An attempt at Zappaesque humor/social comment is attempted with the track Military Mindset , but the band doesn't pull off the tongue-in-cheek style in a particularly convincing way. The band does score points in other tracks though. Red Pill is an interesting piece which moves along at a slightly creepy pace and offers a decent tension/release build up. The disc's only instrumental track Mechanical Pencil shows us what this band could really create if the vocals were given a back seat more often during the disc. Finally, the musicians are given a chance to spread their wings and soar. The result is an exquisite piece filled with superb keyboard and guitar leads, a much more up-front bass line, and solid bottom end. Alas, this is but one track out of ten, and not enough to build a masterpiece upon in this reviewer's opinion.

There is obvious talent in this band yet I do not feel it is being utilised to it's fullest potential. All members are clearly excellent musicians and prove they can compose some very interesting music together, however, the ever-present vocals tend to keep this speedboat tied to the dock. Your mileage may vary with this disc.

Track Listing:

  1. Film at 11
  2. The Pursuit Of Happiness
  3. Killing With Kindness
  4. Misanthropic Cattle
  5. Regaining The Feel
  6. Counting Sand
  7. Red Pill
  8. Military Mindset
  9. Mechanical Pencil
  10. Ungrateful

Added: March 16th 2005
Reviewer: Yves Dubé
Score:
Related Link: www.landofchocolate.com
Hits: 2470
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Land Of Chocolate: Regaining The Feel
Posted by Greg Cummins, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-16 05:22:51
My Score:

Featuring the undeniable influences from Gentle Giant, Land Of Chocolate waste no time in getting underway with their latest outing which provides a bevy of complex arrangements, shifting dynamics and variety to ensure they don't fall into the trap of sounding like everyone else trying to be different.

Land Of Chocolate have often adopted an abrupt and angular sound with many of their songs, being bereft of melody and with a slightly angry approach that enables their lyrics to penetrate the inner psyche. Although not sounding at all alike, I am often reminded of bands such as Garden Wall or Time & Tide, predominantly for the degree of anxt that sometimes permeates throughout many of their songs. They manage to do this in a way that retains its intensity without losing sight of the band's overall individual style and direction. Difficult time signatures and a huge variety of chops are found throughout their music leaving no stone unturned but I sometimes wish for something a little more accessible and certainly with a reduced vocal predominance. The constant bombardment of John Buzby's voice, which while perfectly accomplished, delivers no respite and in doing so, prevents the other members of the band from demonstrating their own respective talents.

Despite the standard menu of guitar / drums / keyboards / bass and vocals, Land Of Chocolate manage to fill every nook and cranny with interesting music and should find favour with those pining for the old Echolyn sound as the similarities are hard to ignore. Having said that however, I found the variety of songs on this album much less inspiring as those on their earlier release, "Unicorn On The Cob".




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