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Forest Field: Lonely Desert

The fourth album from Forest Field finds D'Ercole, Cranston, Tragik, Circular Logik and Legion man Phil Vincent reprising his role as vocalist alongside the musical musings of multi-instrumentalist Paul Cox. With the pair known for a wide body of work taking in melodic hard rock through prog, it's no surprise that it's a mixture of those styles, with some folk and acoustic influences, that Lonely Desert focuses on. In places it can all feel beautifully locked into place and yet all too often the styles appear in conflict, big, thick riffs never quite hitting a prog metal gallop, or the soaring, swoop melodic rock requires. That doesn't stop Cox from being a fine player, nor his tasty solos, or refined picking (of which there's quite a lot) from grabbing the ear. However even here these sections can feel somehow grafted on to the songs they represent.

When he gets it right, as he most certainly does on the instrumental "Coriolis", the results can be quite startling, a swathe of meaty riffs tempered expertly with melodic poise, but elsewhere the strike rate never quite rises high enough to truly draw you in. The synth work on this track is also excellent, although the programmed drums do add a simple clinical edge that doesn't quite fit the song's mood. Strangely the opposite is true in most of the other tracks, complex rhythms added to passages that don't really need them. Snare patterns and rolls providing unwanted distractions where there's already enough going on.

The involvement of Vincent in something more progressively pointed may surprise some, his voice more renown for fronting melodic rock. However he does a good job, although with Lonely Desert loosely based on the Frank Herbert sci-fi novel Dune, he doesn't always quite have the storytelling timbre that's needed to raise the songs beyond their slightly stilted frameworks and into a truly memorable place. When he chooses to add layers (and layers) of backing accompaniment, the effect can be really rather rewarding. That said, and through no real fault of Vincent's, it does tend to be the instrumental tracks where Cox provides his strongest performances. Again leaving a disjointed overall feel.

Frustratingly, the closing fifteen minute, six part epic, "Fear", illustrates that when Forest Field can bring all their different elements together, they really can hit the poignant, expansive, eclectic bull's eye. An uplifting acoustic guitar opening setting the scene, before an almost Kansas meets Neal Morse, via something more akin to latter day Winger, is peppered with scintillating guitar work and an excellent vocal. It's exciting, intriguing and ultimately a little too late to save an album that all too often lacks the fire that this track possesses in abundance.

Track Listing
1. Valley Of Pain
2. Coriolis
3. Doomed In The Desert
4. Alienation (stranger in me)
5. To Bits
6. Asleep
7. Into The Light
8. Riding The Worm
9. The Confrontation
10. Fear

Added: March 5th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Forest Field on bandcamp
Hits: 1379
Language: english

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