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XNA: When We Changed You

Remember the days when you would return from your favourite record store and unwrap the vinyl you had just purchased. The excitement of opening the album jacket and gazing at the artwork for the first time. Fond memories indeed. These are the feelings I had when gazing upon the hard cover digi pack of XNA's debut When We Changed You. The artwork is immediately striking and one hopes the music is just as good. I am happy to say it is.

In the band are Adam Malin (keyboards), David Hussey (vocals), Danny Bryle (guitars), Scott Connor (drums) and Billy Sherwood (bass, additional guitars). This is another one of those bands that have seemingly come out of nowhere to release a stunning debut album. For those of you who like sprawling epics, intricate musicianship and sci-fi concepts you have come to the right place.

First a little about the concept. One hundred thousand years ago an advanced alien species happened by our galaxy and set foot upon our world. They saw potential in humanity so they altered us in the hope that we would develop into our full potential. Well, one hundred millennia later they have returned and our not impressed with what we have become. Call me a geek but I love epic concepts like this. The second and last tunes deal with the alien contact while songs in between take pages out of Earth's past like King Richard the Third, the myth of the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman and the legend of King Arthur. It is a wonderful storyline with the music to back it up.

The album begins with the short but dramatic instrumental "At Childhood's Beginning". Big organ sounds in the grand style of classic '70s prog, solid drumming and orchestral maneuverings all combine for a full-fledged prog work-out. The title track meanders through varying tempos and soundscapes including an Eastern vibe and soaring guitars to emphasize the melody. The album's first epic "Banner of the Whyte Boar" is just a great track. Excellent interplay between guitar and keys with the song taking on different forms but always keeping the main melody close at hand. It took me a while to get into the talking vocal style in "The Flying Dutchman" and Annapurna" but eventually it started to make sense as it matches the music well serving to add to the drama in both pieces. The epic tune "At Childhood's End" is a befitting album closure; pure symphonic bliss showcasing each band member's talent and attention to detail. Both epics have a nice flow, never feeling like a cut and paste job as all the different parts serve well to make the whole a fine listening experience.

When We Changed You is just a great package. From the artwork to the music, progressive rock fans should rejoice. If symphonic progressive rock in the vein of early Genesis, Yes and Starcastle is your thing, I urge you to check this one out. XNA is a band that will be on my radar, hopefully for many years to come.

Track Listing:
1. At Childhood's Beginning (2:01)
2. When We Changed You (7:19)
3. Banner of the Whyte Boar (15:04)
4. The Flying Dutchman (9:27)
5. The Vale of Avalon (7:08)
6. Annapurna (8:29)
7. At Childhood's End (16:06)

Added: March 5th 2014
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 2290
Language: english

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