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Adventure: Tales Of Belle - Part 1 - Across The Ocean

As you may gather from the title of the fifth album from Norwegian symphonic/neo prog rockers Adventure, Tales Of Belle - Part 1 - Across The Ocean, this release is a concept album and one that covers quite a harrowing tale. Until now I had no idea who Belle Gunness was but it would appear that this ‘lady’ is considered one of the most heartless female serial killers in history, with at least fourteen confirmed victims falling to her, most of which came from her own adopted children and partners. Born in Norway in 1859, Belle emigrated to America in hope of improving what had been a difficult life to that point - she lost a baby of her own while still pregnant due to taking a heavy beating - but from there the story takes an undoubtedly sinister and somewhat bizarre twist. With this disc covering ‘Part 1’ and the second instalment due in September 2022, I’m still at a loss as to how it all eventually unfolds.

Now, I like a concept album and, having favourably reviewed their third release, Caught In The Web, I also enjoy this band’s output. However, from the off it’s key, to me anyway, that this whole project feels driven by the story it’s looking to convey, with everything else, well, not taking a back seat, but more falling in line with the mood, tone and texture laid out in the words. In terms of those lyrics, for my own personal taste - and I might be being a little unkind here - everything feels over literal and over factual. Maybe that’s down, in part to Adventure not delivering this story in their native tongue, but even when I’m not fully tuned in to the story, I feel like I’m in school listening to a history lesson rather than being, for want of a better word, entertained. That vocally I don’t find Kjell Myran, Elen Cath Hopen or Terje Craig (who all take on ‘roles’ in the concept) to be natural storytellers, merely adds to the notion that the words are driving the performances and not the other way around.

Now, if this was all married to scintillating music and super-memorable songs, then it would be easy to find the above issues to not be all that important. However, I also find the music, even when moving into more upbeat sections as “Rumours” does, for example, to be dowdy, doomy and dark, all of which leaves me personally with little if anything to really grab a hold on. Don’t get me wrong, the performances in general are tight, talented and hard to fault, but the mood and intention just leaves me drained. That, in many ways, might actually have been the point here, after all, serial killing is hardly a laugh a minute topic, but there have been bands such as IQ, who have tackled similar themes in this musical realm while delivering less one dimensional results.

Am I intrigued to hear how the story of Belle Gunness plays out? Truthfully, the answer is yes… and no. I do want to know how the lady, I presume, meets her end, but must admit that I hope the journey is a little more memorable than the one she and Adventure have taken here.

Track Listing
1. Hell's Belle... 

2. The Journey Begins

3. Too Far

4. Come Join Me... 

5. Dreams

6. Haunted Wedding

7. Courting - First Marriage 

8. Rumours Say 

9. Voices... 

10. The Last Goodbye 

11. Crossing

Added: July 25th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Adventure @ bandcamp
Hits: 267
Language: english

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