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Burke; Dec: Book Of Secrets

Five years have passed since Paradigms & Storylines, the second solo album from ex-Darwin's Radio lynchpin and Frost* band member Dec Burke. Both that release and its predecessor, Destroy All Monsters, received high praise in the media and with album number three, Book Of Secrets, Burke hopes to pick up exactly where he left off.

Well maybe not exactly, opener "Reflection" providing a melancholy edge that the bright, poppy accessible prog Burke specialises in doesn't usually possess. "Everlasting" however brings the bite Burke can always boast, a deeply pop-prog groove bouncing into view. Hanging a Frost* framework round a Pineapple Thief fragility and then injecting a shot of adrenalin fuelled energy, the confident guitar work including a searing solo is urged along on some superb keys and aided and abetted by Burke's excellent vocal surge. "Take" however adds a more poignant side to proceedings and yet there's still a pushing shove of guitars behind the brooding moody atmosphere. Add in strings that could be lifted from King Crimson or maybe even Porcupine Tree and where Burke really thrives is through infusing the more expected prog standpoint with a more commercial cut and thrust.

Bringing on board Kristoffer Gildenlow (ex-Pain of Salvation) on bass and Carl Westerholm (Carptree) on piano, mellotron and organ, Burke ensures he's surrounded by the best. However when you factor in that Lee Abraham (one of the hottest prog properties around right now) mixed the album and Karl Groom (so hot, he sizzles) mastered it, then that BoS sounds like a sumptuous, yet bullish delight should come as no surprise.

"As High As The Sun" repeats the Porcupine Tree comparison in its initial staccato riff, yet Burke is way too upbeat (even when he's lyrically challenging) for that likeness to stay true for long, instead using his almost Nik Kershaw like vocals to shed a dancing light on proceedings. With only eight tracks in sight, the quality remains high throughout, "Another Hope" dreamy and light, although never in a throwaway manner, it's layered vocals a true delight. "Intervals" adds Spanish guitar interludes and piano strikes to compliment the beautiful, passionate atmosphere, although oddly, it also reminds of Spock's Beard. While "Hate And Lies", which builds through an acoustic, instrumental intro into the most frantic and energetic burst in sight has Burke proving he's just as effective in this setting as he is in more restrained mode. "The Sun Will Rise", which ironically starts under a rain shower, ends Book Of Secrets in acoustic, if still bustling style.

Through his work with his previous bands and two earlier solo albums, Dec Burke deserves to be a bigger name in the pop-prog scene. Book Of Secrets proves he's still bang on course, a mix of accessible and challenging resulting in an instant hit that unravels into a collection of songs with impressive staying power. Those enjoying the British prog resurgence of recent years should certainly be making this album and artist much less of the secret that he currently is.

Track Listing
1. Reflection
2. Everlasting
3. Take
4. As High As The Sun
5. Another Hope
6. Intervals
7. Hate & Lies
8. The Sun Will Rise

Added: September 5th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Dec Burke on facebook
Hits: 1892
Language: english

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