This is a pretty remarkable little progressive rock album, released in 1997 on Mellow Records but containing material that the band had written as far back as the late-1980's. Advent are an American prog band that have a style that is very closely related to classic Gentle Giant, although with some symphonic Genesis and Yes type elements as well. It's pretty rare that a band can get the Gentle Giant sound (and in fact they long have been considered a group that has few imitators, unlike say Yes, King Crimson, or Genesis) but Advent does it quite well here, and also add a lot of their own unique style as well to the mix. The vocals of the brothers Henry and Mark Ptak sound very much like Ray Shulman of GG fame, and the complex and rich assortment of instrumentation also adds to the comparison. What makes Advent stand out from a long line of progressive rock bands who pay homage to a particular classic band is composition. These guys write good songs, with a nice Gentle Giant flavor. Take "Rear View Mirror" for instance, a haunting number with emotional lead vocals and chilling keyboard work. It's a song that sticks with you after a few listens. Or the epic "Alison Waits ( A Ghost Story)", an outstanding prog rock opus that lets the band really rip and show off their chops. There's even some catchy commercial sounding rock on "Trompe L'Oleil", with nifty synths and a stunning guitar solo from Alan Benjamin. I was reminded of latter period GG, or even Saga or 90125 era Yes on the addicting "Nowhere Else to Go", a fun proggy/pop piece that utilizes the trademark multi-textured vocals that GG made famous, giving what would normally be a hard rocking pop tune that slight medieval edge. Speaking of a medieval flavor, look no further than "In The Tree", a wonderful ditty that could have easily come from Three Friends, or really any of the early Gentle Giant albums. Of course, the band gives a full GG tribute on "BITB", and does so remarkably, with loads of intricate keyboards, guitars, and the crashing drums of Mike Carroll. See if you can detect all the snippetts of GG songs that Advent throws in this one. Fun stuff indeed!
Hearing an album like this not only amazes as far as the overall accomplishment is concerned, but also makes you miss Gentle Giant even more, and really appreciate the body of work they recorded. It's now been many years since Advent have released this gem, and here's hoping that they have part two ready to unleash on the prog community at some point.
1) Maginot Line - 5:59
2) Alison Waits (A Ghost Story) - 10:36
3) Rear View Mirror - 3:31
4) Trompe L'Oeil - 3:26
5) Nowhere Else To Go - 5:12
6) In The Tree - 4:29
7) Marche To The Fighte / The Retreat - 4:10
8) Caminando - 1:27
9) BITB - 7:09