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Blind Ego: Preaching To The Choir

It’s all change for Blind Ego, the side project of RPWL guitar man, Kalle Wallner. For a start, gone are the all-star side-men, the likes of Clive Nolan, John Mitchell, Igor Cavalera and RPWL band-mate Yogi Lang no longer on the scene, although the latter does do an excellent mixing job here. However, the most obvious move that occurs on this project’s fourth album, Preaching To The Choir, is a diversion into heavier territory, with this CD happily sitting somewhere between being an all out hard rock record and something altogether more progressive metal. It’s a clever and reasonably individual situation in which to sit and with vocalist Scott Balaban (Amon Ra) proving something of a revelation, Wallner really has armed this album with some seriously potent weapons. Handling most of the guitar and bass work himself, the RPWL man is also joined by Julian Kellner on six strings and Sebastian Harnack on four. With the drums occupied by Michael Christoph, there’s actually a real band feel about this album, the tightness and focus of the title track and the aptly named “Massive” quickly catching the ear.

Interestingly, it’s the slower “Burning Alive” that answers a little niggling question I had about Balaban’s vocal style, the more relaxed setting somehow landing his voice somewhere between Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge a reference for much of the more straight ahead fare here) and Michael Hutchence (INXS)! However, when the more expressively melodic chorus bursts into view it’s actually a proggy U2 fronted by the much missed Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott (Threshold) that proves a surprisingly interesting touching point. Admittedly, it’s a fleeting likeness and once the riff digs in deep a previous influence for this project comes into play, with Arena brought to mind. However, the grinding riff of “Line In The Sand” quickly pulls the focus back into the interesting area of hard rock/prog metal, a brooding riff giving way to an almost industrial vocal that then moves aside for a truly melodic breakdown.

We’re darting about, bringing in all manner of different styles and moods here, often meaning that the most impressive aspect of the atmospheric “Heading For The Stars”, or soaring closer, “The Pulse”, where the progressive push this album has at its core really bursts forth, is how all of this hangs together so cohesively. Not many projects - or should we maybe now call Blind Ego a full on band? - can lay claim to mastering that impressive art.

RPWL are always a pretty active act, but with the different feel of both this new album and line-up from Blind Ego, it will be interesting to see whether guitarist Kalle Wallner - who is immense throughout here in a way his ‘day job’ simply never allows him to be - is keen to shorten the gaps between albums from his extracurricular activity. The previous Blind Ego effort, Liquid, arrived some four years prior to Preaching..., hopefully the follow up will be here in half that time.

Track Listing
1. Massive
2. Preaching to the Choir
3. Burning Alive
4. Line in the Sand
5. Dark Paradise
6. In Exile
7. Heading for the Stars
8. Broken Land
9. The Pulse

Added: September 25th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Blind Ego on facebook
Hits: 1245
Language: english

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Blind Ego: Preaching To The Choir
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-09-26 04:27:30
My Score:

As you probably know, Blind Ego is a project started by Kalle Wallner (RPWL) in 2005, mainly as a vehicle for his solo work. I remember reviewing the band’s debut album Mirror, released in 2007. In fact, that was one of the first reviews I ever wrote. I remember really digging Mirror at the time and in those days, I was really starting to get back into prog rock after a long break from the genre. The album Numb was released in 2009 which I haven’t heard but their third release Liquid in 2016 I quite enjoyed. This brings us to their most recent album titled Preaching to the Choir, released in 2020.

First and foremost, Blind Ego does not sound like RPWL which is not surprising considering the reason for the project in the first place. I would also say the latest album is heavier and is more melodic rock than prog. Now this isn’t meant as a negative at all but for those searching for more in the vein of his main band you may be disappointed. All that said, Preaching to the Choir is an excellent hard rock album with subtle progressive influences sprinkled here and there.

The first track “Massive” really packs a punch with its heavy drum and guitar attack. Elements of progressive metal creep into some of the riffs and the chorus is really catchy, made so by the fine vocals of Scott Balaban. The title track is next, displaying a modern heavy rock sound, a little more edgy with its blending of well played keys and guitar making for a bigger, majestic sound. The guitar is quite prominent and is certainly an album highlight. “Burning Alive” is a sophisticated pop/rock tune with another earworm chorus, especially melodic are the lead and backing vocals. The band eased off the hard rock in this one. The guitar riffs are razor sharp in “Line in the Sand”, very moody with an electronic edge and back to heavier sounds. More extreme catchiness can be heard on the lovely ballad “Dark Paradise”, but with darker tones and truly emotive guitar work and lead vocals. There are four tracks left with no duds in the bunch.

Exceptional playing with lots of melodies to latch on to, Blind Ego has made a sophisticated rock album that should appeal to many fans across the music spectrum. Highly recommended!

A Gentle Art of Music release.

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