After the Fall is a progressive rock band from Connecticut that have been around since the late 80's, and The Living Drum is their fifth studio release. The band plays in a modern style yet pays homage to the greats of the past, namely ELP, Jethro Tull, Kansas, and perhaps a little Nektar. If you like long tracks with muscular guitar work, lots of keys, and fantasy tinged lyrics, you really can't go wrong here.
The opening song "The Year of the Dragon" is chock full of bombast, with raging organ and synths, ELP styled frantic rhythms, and complex arrangements. Guitarist and vocalist Mark Alden Benson strums some nice acoustic on the gorgeous "The Mystic", a song that also features wonderful vocal harmonies from the band as they croon "No one hears the voice of The Mystic, image resurrected in a hollow prophecy, a distant echo or just a scattered phrase, or the remnants of his fading words." Yep, prog this is! There's plenty of epics here, like the keyboard attack of "Dancing With Daggers" (Ken Archer really does throw in some nice Keith Emerson inspired mania here), and the slow build of "It All Flows to the Sea", a swirling pot of prog soup with intricate yet melodic guitar leads and atmospheric keys. The real treat is the near 20-minute title track, a real slice of prog Americana, dealing with Mother Nature and ancient tribal legends. You'll hear bits of vintage Kansas on this one, as the band moves from atmospheric acoustic moments to passionate rock frenzy, the latter thanks to the thick guitar riffs from Benson, lots of wild drum work from Rich Kornacki, and speedy synth solos.
Throw in a few impressive instrumental tracks, and you've got a solid release from these US proggers. While some may find the lyrics a bit heavy handed, those who like having their minds put to the test will really enjoy the dense nature of The Living Drum.