Wobbler return with another fantastic slice of Norwegian progressive rock, this one titled Rites at Dawn. Never a band to shun their influences, which include such 70's legends as Yes, The Moody Blues, Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, and Cathedral, the band take that framework and build upon it, creating music that is rich in prog rock traditions of yesteryear but at the same time all their own. Wobbler in 2011 are Morten Andreas Eriksen (guitars), Lars Fredrik Froislie (keyboards), Kristian Hultgren (bass), Martin Nordrum Kneppen (drums), and Andreas Stromman Prestmo (vocals), with Ketil Einarsen (flute) and Hanne Rekdal (bassoon) serving as guests on the album.
You can't help but be swallowed up whole by the glorious 70's sounds of "La Bealtaine", complete with muscular Rickenbacker bass grooves, intricate guitar lines, and vintage Moog, Mellotron, and Hammond keyboard passages. Prestmo's vocals have a certain Jon Anderson flair to them, and fit the music perfectly. He's soaring above the busy instrumentation on the epic gem "In Orbit", a wonderful piece that could have been a leftover from Close to the Edge. Complex interplay between bass, guitar, and keyboards drive this symphonic prog track, sure to be an instant classic, as Wobbler take you through a musical journey that you'll want to relive over and over again. The pastoral "The Last Presence" is like a perfect marriage of Genesis, Renaissance, and Yes, with plenty or rich acoustic arrangements at the beginning before Eriksen's scorching electric guitar solo takes control, complemented by Froislie's majestic grand piano. Toss in some lush Mellotron towards the finale, and you have a beautiful prog-rock opus that is another must hear highlight of Rites at Dawn.
The Mellotron & Rickenbacker bass driven "A Faerie's Play" is a quirky number with some great Gentle Giant styled vocals, and the band lurch into heavier rock territory on the bombastic "The River". This one features all sorts of stunning interplay between the musicians, with Kneppen crazily crashing his drum kit underneath a furious onslaught of keyboards, guitar, and bass riffs. As the song drifts into varying moods and tempos, the band pulls it all off superbly, Prestmo delivering intoxicating vocals over the top of it all. Mellotron lovers will totally groove to this one for sure, and if you love Yes and Gentle Giant, it will certainly push all the right buttons.
Remarkable lead & backing vocal harmonies, superior musicianship, an appreciation for classic sounds of the 70's, epic songs, a warm & inviting production, all these things are what makes Rites at Dawn a truly great album. Wobbler have done it again folks, quite possibly creating their magnum opus with this one. Along with the latest from Mars Hollow and Magic Pie, there's a lot to get excited about in the world of progressive rock here in 2011.
1) Lucid (1:40)
2) La Bealtaine (7:52)
3) In Orbit (12:30)
4) The Last Presence (6:14)
5) A Faerie's Play (5:19)
6) The River (10:04)
7) Lucid Dreams (2:19)