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Fantasist: Fantasist

Perusing comments over at the Fantasist web site and also coverage of their first two releases, debut album Giggle Juice and EP Suited And Muted, the one word that keeps cropping up is progressive. However with their second, this time self titled, full length release, I can't help but think that there's more chance of Alice In Chains, Monster Magnet, Clutch or Queens Of The Stone Age followers being more likely to grasp onto the fuzzed riffs of giganticness, than say your average Genesis, Yes or Marillion fan. Now I appreciate that view of prog may be more than narrow minded and in fairness to Fantasist, the list of bands they do remind of (among those mentioned above add in acts as diverse as Sigur Ros and the clean side of Opeth) is anything but straight forward, in itself being more "progressive" than many prog acts. Whatever you want to call it prog, stoner, doom, grunge, heavy blues rock the main thing is that this UK trio certainly know what they're doing, with their incisive, yet ranging music being equally hard hitting and captivating.

The short introduction track "The End" suggests that Fantasist are intent on taking us down some doom laden path, however the melodic textures that sit unobtrusively in the background also immediately suggest something a little more involved. "Watch It Crumble" however puts its head down and yells charge through a bullish riff, before the part heavy, part funky groove adds a new texture. Already things are pleasantly angular in execution, but without the need to shove the embedded diversity down your throat. "Goodnight So Long" bursts into being with a more overt Queens Of The Stone age vibe, but then that is ushered out of the way through a clean staccato riff and loose vocal that even adds a touch of gutturals, before the riff bulges back into view. Add a beautiful poised breakdown where harmony vocals play against clean guitar and singing bass and there's no getting away from how keenly crafted these tracks are. Interestingly though, if you take your focus off this album, the forcefulness with which the songs are delivered can actually disguise much of the intricacies of what is going on here. "Grim Fandango" brings a straight fight between QotSA and Foo Fighters into play, before "Drugstore Cowboy" steps up to groove your socks off via bluesy guitar bursts and Southern drawled vocals. The more restrained moments like "Portal" where soaring melodies bustle their way to the front -although grinding guitars and banging bass are never all that far away- work equally well, bringing a welcome change of pace to what otherwise might become a little bit of an overenthusiastic attack; reinforcing the breadth of styles and approaches that are cleverly brought together here.

Not everything comes off to quite the same high standard however with "Thump" being more interested in how dextrous the bass work is than how effective, and the brooding Pearl Jam-lite of "Almost Home" bringing proceedings to an under key close. Although when you weigh those less engaging moments against the groove 'n' grind of "RED" or the quite beautiful "Bloodmoon" they become easy to forgive and forget. The hyper critical could, fairly, suggest that nearly all the songs follow the same path of heavy-light-heavy-light-heavy-heavy-light, and there's no denying that a little less reliance on this formula wouldn't go amiss, however at this early stage in this band's life that's a minor quibble.

Not quite the finished article, is there enough on this self titled effort to suggest this three-piece might be onto something? You don't need to be a Fantasist to think so.

Track Listing
1. The End
2. Watch It Crumble
3. Goodnight So Long
4. Unity
5. Grim Fandango
6. Drugstore Cowboy
7. Portal
8. Thump
9. Fear The Worst
10. RED
11. Bloodmoon
12. Almost Home

Added: April 27th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Fantasist Online
Hits: 2088
Language: english

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