Stencil Forest was a late 70s, early 80s band in the vein of Ambrosia and Toto. As far as I can figure Opening Act was recorded in 1981/82. This 2004 Riverworld Music re-release has 2 bonus tracks, the listed Five by Five and the acoustic version of Just a Fantasy. Most of the songs were written by Multi-instrumentalist and lead guitarist Frank Cassella. Doug Andresen has a voice between Dave Mason and David Pack.
There is much to like with the sound of Stencil Forest but there is little that you feel you haven't heard before. "Opening Act" is the most pop oriented song and could easily have been on a Toto CD. Some of the other songs have a feel of such bands as Starcastle, Moody Blues and Styx.
The songs are diverse enough to make the entire CD enjoyable. If I was rating Opening Act 20 years ago I would give it a much higher mark. But the sound and style is dated. Rumor has Stencil Forest heading back to the studio to record a brand new CD, which would explain the timing of this re-release.
Stencil Forest is recommended for fans of Dave Mason, early Toto, early Ambrosia, and IQ.
1) Opening Act (5:46)
2) Celestrial Voices (4:16)
3) Just A Fantasy (4:36)
4) Crossroads (3:47)
5) Looking Back (3:59)
6) The Pandemonium Shadow Show (8:48)
7) Indian Summer (4:16)
8) Five Studded Poker Player (5:59)
9) Five by Five: bonus track (3:30)
10) Just a Fantasy (acoustic): bonus track (4:17)