The Sparrow is the third release from San Francisco's prog-rock upstarts Metaphor. Based on the book of the same name by author Mary Doria Russel, The Sparrow is a concept piece telling the story of a Jesuit funded mission to an alien inhabited planet, leading to all sorts of exciting events. The band's previous two albums were heavily Genesis flavored, and while there are moments here that remind of that classic prog act, especially in the keyboard sounds of Marc Spooner, for the most part this is a much more modern sounding prog recording, bringing to mind Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, and Arena. Still, there's enough of a vintage Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Yes undercurrent going on here to please any lover of 70's symphonic prog.
The vocals of John Mabry as always are very strong, as he is showing once again how to be an effective storyteller as well as vocalist. His emotional, melodic vocals permeate tracks like "Stella Maris", "Death in Eden" (featuring some wonderful, lush keyboard playing from Spooner & tasty guitar lines from Malcolm Smith), and the soulful "Stranded". There's some fanstastic interplay between the guitar and keys on the epic "Challallah Khaeri" (which has an almost Genesis meets Squeeze feel to it) and the short, Gentle Giant inspired instrumental "Garden Building", and the Mellotron strings come out full force on "Flower Harvest". If you like Hackett styled guitar lines, layers of vintage keys, and booming bass (courtesy of Jim Anderson), the instrumental "We Are Many And They Are Few" should be right up your alley, and ominous Mellotron returns on the moody "God Will Break Your Heart".
Metaphor have continued their strong run here with this latest The Sparrow. It's not easy to put together three challenging & demanding prog rock opuses right out of the gate, but this outfit from San Fran have done just that. Symphonic lovers take note and seek this one out.
2 Song From A Nearby Star
3 Deus Vult
4 Stella Maris
5 Death In Eden
6 Challallah Khaeri
7 Garden Building
8 Sick For What The Heart Wants
10 Flower Harvest
11 We Are Many And They Are Few
12 Mother Night
13 God Will Break Your Heart