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RPWL: Crime Scene

Crime Scene finds veteran German progsters RPWL entering darker territory than their often more upbeat albums allow. Here, for the band’s eighth studio release (their live albums actually outnumber that total), the intention is to examine what motivates evil and what turns people into really quite atrociously brutal, hateful killers. Hardly laugh a minute stuff I’m sure you’ll agree.

For anyone familiar with this outfit, they will doubtless be aware that RPWL were initially a Pink Floyd tribute act and in fact even some recent live releases have solely focused on that side of the band’s repertoire. However, there has always been a more hopeful, optimistic base to what RPWL do and I must admit that I entered this album wondering how they might evolve that sound into this darker situation - I mean these tales, while not directly linked, are all sourced from real instances of serial killers, or brutalistic murders. And yet, what we get is pretty straight up neo-prog that maybe relies more on Arena and Marillion for it’s base than the Floyd foundation possibly expected. Hence, this is no Road Of Bones, the IQ album that steps into similar thematic territory where that band moulded their sound to the more sinister setting.

That said, the music that is created here is of the highest calibre, with guitarist Kalle Wallner (who also handles bass) in particularly fine form and more often than not leading from the front. “King of the World” is the album’s longest track, running to over 14 minutes, with the band’s ability to remain restrained and atmospheric really coming up trumps. Mood and feel changes often across the song’s length and yet the pace, for the most part, is reasonably sedate, allowing for some sumptuous soloing from Wallner and also some superb keyboard spotlight spots for Markus Jehle. With drummer Marc Turiaux holding everything together seamlessly, the musical talents of this band are as strong as ever. Elsewhere, on the shorter tracks, singer Yogi Lang is more of a focal point, his smooth, harmonious tones always a joy to hear. The reasonably straight forward acoustic strum of “A Cold Day In Spring ’22” is maybe where the singer shines brightest and alongside a sublimely chiming guitar line and excellent keyboard embellishment, it quickly becomes the most memorable track in sight. “Victim Of Desire” is the most obviously ‘neo’ moment on the album and again, it’s the combination of cutting guitars and synths - this time in the shape of strings - that make it the impactful piece it is, but are any of these songs particularly dark in tone? Truth be told, not really.

I must admit that while I always enjoy what RPWL have to say, the slight niggle that the music and lyrics don’t always feel aligned in terms of tone and intent on Crime Scene, does make for an unusual journey on an album that still somehow contains very few surprises. However, if you’ve enjoyed this band’s music in the past, I have no doubt you will again this time round and ultimately that’s the most important outcome.

Track Listing
1. Victim of Desire

2. Red Rose 

3. A Cold Spring Day in ’22

4. Life in a Cage

5. King of the World

6. Another Life Beyond Control

Added: March 17th 2023
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: RPWL online
Hits: 1045
Language: english

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