The sophomore release from Norway's Wobbler is finally upon us, four years after their stunning debut Hinterland. With Afterglow, the band took material that was originally written back in the late 90's (some which wound up on their original demo, now re-recorded) and went into the studio between mid-2007 and late 2008 to put the finishing touches on it all. The results are 5 pieces of 70's styled symphonic prog, three short tracks and two long epics, and if you loved Hinterland chances are you'll dig this one even more.
Opening cut "The Haywain" is about a minute of Gentle Giant/Gryphon styled quirky prog, littered with reeds and classic keyboards, which then launches into the excellent "Imperial Winter White", a 15-minute epic that features everything fans of 70's prog love about this genre. Hints of Genesis, Anglagard, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, PFM, and King Crimson abound on this bombastic piece, which is chock full of Hammond, Moog, Mellotron, flute, crashing drum work, Rickenbacker bass, and blistering guitar. Vocally, this one's right on target as well, and Mellotron lovers will cry for joy at the ominous swells of the mighty keyboard at the beginning and end of this tune. The acoustic guitar & cello instrumental "Intelude", courtesy of Morten Andreas Eriksen and Sigrun Eng, follows, and the band then launches into the other epic of the CD, titled "In Taberna". This song is a bouncy, complex prog-rocker, and will certainly bring to mind Anglagard with its intricate tempos, nimble bass lines, haunting Mellotron, majestic piano, delicate flute, and biting guitar. Some of the passages feature plenty of counterpoint which recalls classic Gentle Giant, but Eriksen's guitar tone is pure Robert Fripp on this one, as he slashes his way through waves of analog keys and flute. Recorders, crumhorn, Moog, and organ permeate the cunning "Armoury", a brief little Gryphon-influenced number that closes out the CD in majestic fashion.
Quite frankly, this is the progressive rock release of the year so far here in the early part of 2009. The only reason I'm not giving Afterglow a perfect score is because the CD is a tad on the short side, and after all these years since Hinterland I'm really rather surprised that Wobbler didn't have another song or two up their sleeves that they could have added here. Regardless, this is astounding material despite the fact that it all was written about 10 years ago, and a perfect example of 70's styled prog-rock done the Norwegian way. Bravo!
1) The Haywain (00:55)
2) Imperial Winter White (15:02)
3) Interlude (02:32)
4) In Taberna (13:10)
5) Armoury (03:00)