Neal Morse, Glass Hammer and Yes comparisons abound around this Massachusetts-based symphonic progressive-rock band – which began life more as a "project" than a "band." But three albums in, Akacia finally seems (a little) more focused. This Fading Time, like An Other Life and The Brass Serpent before it, resounds with lengthy tracks running between three and 10 minutes, significant tempo and mood changes, religious references and production that is alternately thick and thin. But there's nothing here like the sprawling 35-minute title track from The Brass Serpent, and This Fading Time as a whole seems more concise and complete. It borrows Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise" riff for "DesCartes" and builds up "Another Life" (with its musical references to pre-Leftoverture Kansas) while not really ever reaching a crescendo. Elsewhere, the album sounds more laid back, with a jam-band feel that removes practically any sense of urgency. Take "In the Air," "an expression of the grief brought on by Sept. 11," according to the liner notes, that bridges cool jazz with progressive aggression. (Perhaps coincidentally, the song's running time is nine minutes and 11 seconds.)
Eric Naylor's voice suits the material. He takes fewer vocal chances on This Fading Time than he did on Akacia's previous records (with the exception of the reverb-drenched closer "January Sixth"), but his performance is more consistent than earlier outings while still lacking the punch of, say, Neal Morse. Many symphonic prog fans will enjoy this, to be sure — after all, the cover features an engrossing 9/11-inspired painting by Genesis artist Paul Whitehead. But will they be able to recall subtle hooks or even song titles after the echoes of This Fading Time fade?
3) An Other Life
4) In the Air
6) Unfading Divine
7) January Sixth