Take one look at the gorgeous artwork from the always reliable Ed Unitsky on the cover of the latest CD from Dutch act Silhouette, and you know that you are in for some quality progressive rock on Across the Rubicon. This is the bands third release, following in the footsteps of 2006's Amaze and 2009's Moods, and as history shows, the band delivers a new studio set every three years. Here in 2012, Silhouette are comprised of Brian de Graeve (guitars and vocals), Jos Uffing (drums and vocals), Erik Laan (keyboards and vocals), and Gerrit Jan (bass guitar), with guest flute from MaryO and additional guitar courtesy of Aldo Adema. Fans of IQ, Pendragon, Arena, early Marillion, Cross, and Galleon will without a doubt eat this one up.
After the brief, symphonic title track, the CD kicks into high gear with the bombastic "Breathe", which clocks in at nearly 12-minutes long and features plenty of soaring guitar, layers of vintage styled keyboards, and powerful vocals, It's easily one of the most exciting prog epics I've heard in a while. Things slow down for the acoustic guitar & piano drenched "Empty Places", which contains vocals that sound very close to John Wetton and guitar & keyboard parts that remind of Steve Howe and Geoff Downes, giving the song a very heavy Asia flavor but with many more progressive elements. Those Asia references continue on the upbeat "When Snow's Falling Down", another stunning song with soaring vocals and intricate & symphonic arrangements, including some amazing keyboard & guitar solos. I'm reminded of vintage Pallas on the supercharged neo-prog track "Anybody" as heavy guitars and passionate vocals make a powerful statement, supplimented in spots by majestic Moog and haunting Mellotron. Some ominous Mellotron strings, as well as driving Hammond and Moog, make an appearance on the dark "Grendel Memories", no doubt a reference to the great track from Marillion's early years, while emotional, bluesy guitar and layers of synths lead in the melodic "Nothing", again featuring drummer Jos' great, Wetton styled vocals. The band closes out the album in spectacular fashion with the bombastic epic "Don't Stop the Movie", licking off with heavy guitar riffs from de Graeve that combat synth and Mellotron waves, giving way to lush acoustic guitar, piano, and tender vocals, before the heavier, symphonic sections come roaring back into the mix, including some splendid solo spots that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an old Genesis album.
Much of Across the Rubicon is dramatic, well thought out and executed progressive rock of the highest quality, featuring incredible musical passages, memorable melodies, and layers of atmosphere. Silhouette might not be reinventing the prog rock wheel here, but they certainly have honed in on that mid-'70s to early '80s sound quite well, making for a highly enjoyable listening experiences, and one of 2012's true prog highlights.
1. Across The Rubicon (2:18)
2. Breathe (11:31)
3. Empty Places (4:05)
4. When Snow's Falling Down (7:09)
5. Anybody (11:21)
6. Grendel Memories (5:41)
7. Nothing (4:22)
8. Don't Stop This Movie (11:55)