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Group 309, The: Keeper Of An Hourglass

The Group 309 is a progressive rock band hailing from Russia. As far as I can tell the band has dabbled in relative obscurity but has recently released their sophomore effort The Keeper Of An Hourglass. The band consists of Andrey Pishchulov (keyboards, vocals), Igor Inshakov (guitar), Andrey Travkin (bass), Ruslan Dzhigkayty (percussion), Irina Surina (vocals on tracks 3 and 9), NikolayVengrzhanovich (vocals on tracks 4 and 8) and Nikita Simonov (bass on tracks 1,2 and 6).

The music here is tasteful melodic progressive rock with excursions into orchestral and symphonic prog. All the instruments are extremely well played and the melodies and arrangements are solid. What I do have a problem with are the vocals of Pishchulov. He proves to be a wonderful keyboardist, so integral to the band's sound but his vocals will be an acquired taste. They are not horrible by any stretch of the imagination but are just there and a bit lifeless. I must also admit the Russian language is a barrier for me and does not flow as smoothly as other languages.

The first track "The Autumn Evening" is a mellower number with lovely piano and string orchestrations until biting guitars ensue and the pace quickens. The vocals are just okay for me. On the title track the keyboards are again dominant with a big symphonic arrangement but the guitars also add some crunch to the rhythms. Nice drumming from Dzhigkayty on this one. On "The Confession Of A Witch" and "Tranquilly And Uneasily" the lead vocals of Irina Surina are much better as she has an excellent voice which is better suited for the Russian language. The former features nice interplay between bass and keyboards, melodic lead guitar and another classy arrangement while the latter has uplifting keyboards propelled by an elegant rhythm section.

At times the music does get heavier especially on "The Wheel Of Our Fate" where the bass and drums kick up quite the fury and the guitarist shows his considerable chops.

With respect to the artwork it looks great. A very professional package all around with lyrics printed in English and supplemental drawings for each song.

From a music prospective I have no complaints as this is an enjoyable melodic prog album. Perhaps if Surina can add more of a voice on the next release they will hit it out of the park. For now it's in the very good category.

Released on Mals Records.

Track Listing:
1. The Autumn Evening
2. The Keeper Of An Hourglass
3. The Confession Of A Witch
4. You Sleep
5. May I Draw Wings For Myself?
6. Everything Has Been Thought Up So Well
7. One Under The Umbrella
8. The Shades Of The Past
9. Tranquilly And Uneasily
10. The Wheel Of Our Fate
11. Follow The Way Of Birds

Added: January 31st 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 2029
Language: english

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