Hard to believe it's been nearly 10 years since the release of Canuts Firmus, but US prog act Advent have clearly put plenty of time, love, and dedication into their new album Silent Sentinel. With an expanded line-up that also includes a choir, Silent Sentinel is a rich, complex collection of music that contains just as many impressive vocal passages as it does musical explorations. As always, the bands love for classic Gentle Giant, Gryphon, Happy the Man, Alan Parsons Project, and Genesis shines through, making this a must hear for any vintage progressive rock fan.
Mastered by Bob Katz at Digital Domain, and with artwork courtesy of Michael Phipps, Silent Sentinel is not only a great sounding album but also a great looking one. The line-up of Advent for the recording of this album consisted of:
Henry Ptak: keyboards, mandolin, percussion, lead vocals, backing vocals
Alan Benjamin: guitars, bass, violin, mandolin, recorder, glockenspiel, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals
Mark Ptak: keyboards, percussion, lead vocals, backing vocals
Greg Katona: guitars, percussion
Joe D'Andrea: drums, percussion, lead vocals, backing vocals
Brian Mooney: fretted and fretless basses
Thérèse Ptak: solo soprano on "Sentinel's Reprise: The Exit Interview" and "Romanitas"
Ben "BenZuda" Harrison: fiddles on "To Dunsinane"
Dan D'Elia: guest drum corps percussion member on "To Dunsinane" and "Riptide in Aeternum"
Choir members: Alan Benjamin, Amy Benjamin, Matt Brown, Kerry Chicoine, Joe D'Andrea, David Kowalski, Steven Kugelmass, Joanna Lovell, Roe McBurnett, Henry Ptak, Mark Ptak, Thérèse Ptak, Dave Rollins
With this roster of musicians and vocalists, the band is able to cover any and all ground to make their musical vision come to life. Whether it's the complex musical & vocal interplay of "To Dunsinane" and "On the Wings of an Ant (verse 1)" or the soaring pop/prog of "Voices From California", it's exquisite listening from start to finish. "The Uncharted Path" mixes majestic folk & classical guitar strains with recorder and analog prog keyboards for a joyous Gentle Giant-meets-Gryphon-meets-Genesis flavor, while the epic, 19-minute title track is a symphonic prog gem, chock full of tasty guitar work, layers of melodic vocals, and soaring keyboards. Plenty of light & shade on this one, occasionally veering into bombast but loaded with atmosphere and alluring melodies, this is a lengthy track that works on all levels and will be a treat for any classic prog lover. Some of the shorter tracks that appear between the longer pieces are either wonderful little acoustic guitar pieces or multi-part vocal presentations, all compelling and never approaching anything resembling filler. And, just to make sure the band covers all the bases, look for upbeat modern prog in the form of "Sentinel's Reprise: The Exit Interview" and "Riptide in Aeternum", the latter featuring some tasty organ, which also takes center stage along with some melodic guitar on the majestic finale "Romanitas".
Normally every year, we get exposure to either some late releases or ones that escaped us earlier in the year, obviously too late to make it to our Best of the Year list. Silent Sentinel is one of those for 2015, easily one of the best prog albums of this year that just missed our cut, but at least it can be recognized here as an outstanding release that you would be advised not to overlook. Highly recommended!
In Illo Tempore 03:18
To Dunsinane 04:24
On the Wings of an Ant (verse 1) 02:15
Voices from California 07:34
The Uncharted Path 06:22
Reloj de Sol 02:35
On the Wings of an Ant (verse 2) 02:20
The Silent Sentinel 19:11
Sentinel's Reprise: The Exit Interview 05:12
Second Thoughts 02:21
On the Wings of an Ant (verse 3) 02:24
Full Moon and Empty Hours 01:59
Riptide in Aeternum 02:45