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Times Up: Snow Queen (Drummers Mix)

Welsh progressive rockers Times Up have been around since 2006 although the band members have much more experience than that. Their debut Storm Coming In was a fine album and their long waited follow up Snow Queen is even better. In fact, it is a vast improvement. The band consists of Geoff Smith (vocals), Mike Hagland (lead guitar), Andy Gibbon (bass guitar) and Steve Leman (drums and percussion). Also included are four guest musicians adding keyboards, flute and bass.

Snow Queen was three years in the making and it shows. The craftsmanship is excellent as are the outstanding melodies and overall musicality. It's an easy album to listen to but that doesn't mean it lacks staying power. I've been playing it for a while now (sorry guys for taking so long to get this review out) and it sounds better and better with each listen.

There are no weak links here. The vocals, guitars, drums and keys meld to form an album that sounds like it could have been recorded in the mid to late '70s. If I had to stick a label on this, crossover progressive rock would be as good as any. The music is not complex, like some progressive rock tends to be but many of the songs feature different sections often venturing into moodier acoustic soundscapes and creating some outstanding melodies along the way.

With the opening track "Secret Garden" you pretty much know what this disc has to offer. Nice psychedelic tones in the guitar riffs, pretty arpeggios and excellent lead vocals. Smith does not have the strongest voice in rock but he stays within his range and puts on an emotive performance throughout. Kansas and Grand Illusion era Styx would be a good point of reference.

"Nightmare Days" combines acoustic and electric riffage very effectively. Synths augment the sound in a '70s sort of way and the crunchier moments reminded me of Uriah Heep. I especially dig how the quieter sections are used to enhance the heavier parts for dramatic affect.

"The Prophet" begins with haunting Eastern style vocalizations leading to nice vocal harmonies and a middle section filled with synths, acoustic guitar and flute.

The album's title track is eight minutes of pure listening pleasure. Guitar arpeggios are injected with heavier riffs and the bass is ever present. Some of the sections have a more adventurous feel bringing to mind '70s Yes in certain parts.

"Snow Queen Reprise" ends the album in fine style; a nice piece of orchestral flavoured rock.

If you like your music with a '70s bent and appreciate any of the bands listed you really should give Snow Queen a listen. It has some of the most scrumptious tunnage I have heard lately. It might not be complex but is a damn fine listen. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:
1. Secret Garden (5:58)
2. Nightmare Days (5:22)
3. The Prophet (6:04)
4. Snow Queen (8:05)
5. Spellbound (9:07)
6. Fall of the Queen (7:24)
7. Snow Queen Reprise (8:25)

Added: April 21st 2013
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1730
Language: english

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