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Coralspin: Honey And Lava

Billing themselves as a "mod-prog" band, The UK's Coralspin have released a debut album intended to blend modern progressive music with straight ahead rock and the prog traditions of old. In fact the band's bio lists acts as diverse as Muse, Biffy Clyro, Yes and Genesis as reference points. After spending quite some time with Honey And Lava, I have to be honest and say that I only found one (and even then only the once) of those bands listed as strong pointers as to what this well above average album sets out. Essentially a three-piece of Ellie Blyth (vocals/keys), Blake McQueen (keys) and Jake Simmons (guitar), augmented for this album by Steve Kightley (bass) and David English (drums), Coralspin rely strongly on melody and hooks to create a kind of trad-prog-AOR hybrid that straddles everything from poppy bursts and sing along choruses, to intricate musicianship and jazzy overtones.

Unsurprisingly, given that they outnumber the guitar 2 to 1, it is the keyboard contribution from Blyth and McQueen that sets the tone for much across the eight expansive tracks on Honey And Lava, although the vocals will also have a large say in just how much you are seduced or put off by this album. Now that makes the strong, rich tones that Blyth provides sound like a weak link in Coralspin, something which would be distinctly unfair, as the young lady is indeed a fine and confident singer. However her tendency to deliver all of the vocals on the album in a similar pitch - and one which often sounds like a controlled male falsetto - does grate on the nerves the more you get to know what should be a warming syrupy mixture of Honey And Lava. Musically the three-piece, expanded to five, are skilled and classy, with an ability to cleverly link focused, busy keyboard sounds with more straight ahead rhythms and structures, making for songs which are reassuringly welcoming, but which challenge rewardingly. With a bright production and well chosen keyboard effects, the eight songs on show and especially "Bun My Eyes" make a striking initial impact and one which has pretty decent staying power. Add to that a couple of left turns in the shape of the piano and voice led "Aching", or "Mistimed", which lands somewhere between 80's synth-pop and latter day Genesis, and Coralspin have enough about them to hold the interest throughout what is admittedly, at just under 40 minutes, an all too short album.

Hopefully as Coralspin grow across their next few releases they will be able to add a few more colours or tempos to their armoury of musical weapons and also rely slightly less on the vocals to lead from the front quite so often. However as debuts go Honey And Lava promises, and crucially, delivers much.

Track Listing
1. Sons of the Sleeping Giant
2. You're Wrong
3. Mistimed
4. Burn My Eyes
5. Sky's End
6. Songbird
7. Night Stalker
8. Aching

Added: March 17th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Official Coralspin Website
Hits: 2982
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Coralspin: Honey And Lava
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-03-17 15:56:45
My Score:

This English band have been around since 2006. Their debut album Honey and Lava was released in 2012. In the band are Ellie Blyth (vocals, keyboards), Blake McQueen (keyboards) and Jake Simmons (guitar). Guests include Steve Kightley (bass) and David English (drums).

Honey and Lava is a good listen, just don't expect an all-out progressive rock album. The songs are inundated with some fine keyboard sounds with little flourishes here and there. Most of the songs are short so there is not much room for extended solos although they do let loose on occasion. Some of the songs contain a certain lushness, also due to some well-placed keys. The guitar adds the necessary crunch and there are some imaginative riff progressions like in the hard driving "Burn My Eyes" and the ear catching album opener "Sons of the Sleeping Giant". Some nice synth/keyboard embellishments in the latter while the former reminded me of a heavier Styx. Other highlights include "Sky's End" with its intoxicating blend of heavy guitar and synth riffs and the pomp infused "Aching" reminding me a little of Queen. It is here where the band flex their prog muscles and push themselves a little further.

The vocals of Blyth might take a little getting used to as she tends to add a fair amount of drama in her delivery, sometimes verging on operatic. I will say she sings her heart out here and for the most part the vocals are well done although the mixing could be a little better.

I really dig Honey and Lava. The blending a pop/rock with the occasional proggy twist is quite refreshing and the melodies are there in spades. I would love to see the band extending their songs so their chops can be taken to another level. The thirty-seven minute running time is a tad short by today's standards. Definitely looking forward to hear how they progress on their next release.

Coralspin: Honey And Lava
Posted by Dean Pedley, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-08-04 10:28:27
My Score:

A classy keyboard soaked melodic prog debut from this three piece, Coralspin are comprised of Ellie Blyth (vocals and keyboards), Blake McQueen (keyboards) and Jake Simmons (guitar) with auxiliary members in drummer David English and bassist Steve Kightley. Skilfully combining seductive, commercial, pop sensibilities with expansive prog trademarks makes for an appealing debut album that, as befitting an album with the title Honey And Lava, more often than not provides a warm and engaging experience. There are shades of latter day Marillion on the seven minute opener "Sons Of The Sleeping Giant" where Ellie Blyth's rich vocals make a welcome first impression. The synth led "Mistimed" and immediate, riff friendly "Night Stalker" are the most accessible and insistent, showcasing the bands more contemporary influences alongside their prog-led traditions. The sublime piano and vocal introduction to "Aching" find Coralspin pushing the boundaries still further with its injection of quirky jazz-infused overtures.

A promising start then, and one that certainly suggests both a bright and intriguing future for this trio.

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