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League of Lights: League of Lights

League of Lights is a new project by Threshold keyboardist and songwriter, Richard West, and his wife, Farrah West. The album is described as "a modern melodic rock group with 80's pop sensibilities" on their website and this seems like a fairly good description, but there is more.

With Farrah West's catchy vocals underpinned by varied synth modulations, some electronic elements, and an overall 80s feel, "I'm Alive" defines the direction for the album. Farrah West does indeed possess a voice suitable to 80s synth-pop, and together with her husband's contribution the blueprint of the songs is set. Richard West is critical to each and every song on the album. He will forever be a personal favourite of mine among prog metal keyboardists. He uses so many sound samples, symphonic textures and tones but he refrains from his role in Threshold in that there are no synth leads on this song. Rather, the emphasis is on the vocals from start to finish with inspiring lyrics saturated in faith, hope and love. On drums is ex-Fates Warning demigod, Mark Zonder, who is one of the main reasons I decided to check this disc out. This being a pop album, Zonder's contribution is hardly central to the songs -- he mostly holds down the rhythmic core with steady 4/4 beats, but his tone is still as unique as always. In order to add diversity to the songcraft, the West duo's "Last Senset" is washed over with a spine-tinkling piano theme and New Age-like sound explorations.

On guitars, there is Within Temptation's Ruud Jolie at the helm. I have long lost interest in Within Temptation, as I have never been able to get into their more commercialized musical aspirations. Actually Jolie's playing is pretty similar to his work with his own band, as he usually plays within the realm of pop music sensibilities -- just as these songs dictate. Therefore, it would be wise not to expect any mammoth riffs or guitar licks. The most noticeable 'riffing' you'll hear is in the intro of "Ambertown" and the acoustic guitars planted underneath Farrah's indelible vocals on "Anime." This one sounds like a soundtrack played during the most heartbreaking scene of a romantic comedy. Her singing is sublime.

That said, the album's secret hit is "Half Light" because it is the song where Richard West returns to his atmospheric playing heard in Threshold. The keys on this track evoke Kevin Moore's solo material with sparse notes ringing atop Farrah West's multi-tracked vocals whilst "Cool of the Day" is based entirely on synth-piano and her gorgeous a capella vocals.

Bottom line, League of Lights is worth checking out if you want to hear Richard West in a much more laidback musical setting with the wonderful vocals of his wife. This is not prog by any stretch of the word -- the songs are short and simple, but the use of keyboards is truly uplifting. If you're a die-hard Threshold fan, you have to wait a bit more for their third Damian Wilson era.

1. I'm Alive
2. Cover Me Now
3. Last Sunset
4. Half Light
5. Ambertown
6. You Light My Way
7. Don't Leave Me Behind
8. Anim
9. Cool Of The Day
10. Heaven Sent A Star

Added: May 22nd 2011
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4249
Language: english

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