Progressive rock fans might surely recognize the name Malcolm Smith as the founding member & guitarist of San Francisco act Metaphor. Seeing as his main band has been on a lengthy hiatus since 2007s The Sparrow (though word is we will see a new album from the band in 2015!), Smith has been busy putting the finishes touches to his long awaited solo album. Joining him on We Were Here are Anglagard/White Willow drummer Mattias Olsson, his Metaphor bandmate Marc Spooner on keyboards, bassist Loren Gustafson, vocalist Deborah Roth, guitarists Rich Lonacre & Craig Launer, and Metaphor vocalist John Mabry on one song.
Much of what you hear on We Were Here is a similar form of the quirky, complex, vintage styled progressive rock that we've come to expect from the Metaphor camp over the years. Smith's compositional skills are fully on display throughout, and it's clear from the opening 1-2 punch of "Peyronie's Angle" and "Cavity Research" that this was not meant to be a 'guitar' record, but a full ensemble approach. Sure, Smith's weaving, snaking guitar lines permeate the former, and rip in classic jazz-fusion fashion on the latter, but he gladly shares the limelight with Olsson's acrobatic drum work and Spooner's wide assortment of keyboard sounds every step of the way. "Monkey Signature" has a sort of Genesis-meets-Gentle Giant flair to it, and the lush "Still...Life" contains a passionate vocal from Mabry over muscular bass lines and melancholy keyboards. Of course, it wouldn't be a prog album without the mandatory epic, here in the form of the multi-part suite "Sykiatry", which is chock full of plenty of intricate guitar & keyboard passages from the two Metaphor pals. You can hear bits of Gentle Giant, Return to Forever, Genesis, Yes, and Kansas, just to name a few of the references included on this excellent song. Jazz blends with prog on the groove laden "Les Canards de Guerre", a fun & classy closer to this highly enjoyable album.
So, if you've gotten restless since the last Metaphor release, here's something that will easily tide you over till the band unleashes their next studio album some time in 2015. Smith & Co. have done a very fine job on We Were Here, a progressive rock album that needs to be on your radar here as we close out 2014.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1) Peyronie's Angle (5:53)
2) Cavity Research (6:15)
3) Monkey Signature (9:08)
4) Still…Life (6:18)
5) Sykiatry - 13:31
Mr. I – Reprise
6) Les Canards de Guerre - 6:01