Tracks: Seconds; Can’t Stop the Clock; Everything Can Change; Pages; Genius; In the Warmth of the Evening; Something Worth Dying For; Someone Else’s Fault; Minutes
Geddy Lee I. Rating: 10/10
Right out of the gate this album starts with the ticking of a clock, though I can’t help thinking I’m listening to a metronome, in a song aptly called “Seconds”. That then transitions into a bit of synth that paves the way for the Prog to follow. And boy does it follow. In less than two minutes we’re in track two “Can’t Stop the Clock” and it’s not waiting around. At times it’s playful, heavy, got some wonderful guitar runs, and boy does it have a chorus that you can’t help but want to sing along with the moment you hear it. Lyrically, Hasse sounds like he’s in a good place with lines like: “… still think music is rather uplifting – Back on the road again it’s more fun than it’s ever been.”
“Everything Can Change” switches things up a bit and is kind of all over the place with a beautiful guitar solo that’s immediately followed up by a piano diddy. Again I love the chorus here and can really feel it “…moving through my system.”
At nearly fifteen and a half minutes “Pages” is a lot of what you’d hope for in a Prog “epic”. Strong and seemingly watery bass tones, pleasantly surprising horn work, great rhythmic passages, strong keyboard sounds that really set the tone of the song at times, and naturally more stunning guitar work. All of these things serve to take the musical theme of the song and prod it, exploring different parts of itself as it runs it’s musical course. Not to mention there’s a lot of great vocal work including harmonies, and it’s really great to hear the other voices of the Musical Companion chiming in. And of course the the song title “Pages” is a metaphor that lends itself to the idea that life is a book waiting to be read. Keep turning pages. That’s about as Prog-friendly as you can get. There’s also a section in here that reminds me strikingly of the opening to Rush’s Xanadu. Whether that’s intended or not, being a Geddy I couldn’t help but enjoy it.
“Genius” is an emotional ballad with some slide guitar (I think) that really tugs at the heart strings. It’s beautiful through and through and based on a real person, someone who died of disease whose work really touched Hasse, though I’m still trying to puzzle out who that might be.
“In the Warmth of the Evening” begins continuing the ballad theme but quickly ditches it to go frolicking through a multitude of musical ideas. I love hearing more of the slide guitar as well as the acoustic guitar that is riddled throughout. During the second half of this song we see a unique keyboard solo that borders on spacey followed up by a wonderfully solid groove. It’s at this point in the album that I realize that something HFMC (the band, not specifically this album) capture very well are the splendid moments where they’re just grooving along and it’s so much fun you start to think that here’s a bit of Prog you might actually be able to dance to. But who likes dancing anyway. 😉
“Something Worth Dying For” puts the rock in Prog at it’s finest. The chorus has some chugging guitar and we get some really tasteful shredding.
“Someone Else’s Fault” offers more Prog fun and to be had. The intro reminds me of how a Transatlantic song might kick off, and seeing as Roine Stolt is my favourite guitar player, I couldn’t really offer a higher compliment as I could totally see him playing here.
If the opening track “Seconds” was short clocking just under two minutes, then “Minutes”, the closing track, is even shorter at just barely more than a minute. We close the same way we opened with seconds ticking but without the keys this time. I thought it was funny/clever to have the first and last tracks named “Seconds” and “Minutes”, a reminder that the clock on the cover and one of the key underlying themes of the overall album being time, are just as relevant at the end as it was in the beginning.
Speaking of the cover, the artwork for this album is fantastic. From the wonderful colours, to the brilliant HFMC logo, to the photos of the band members used in the booklet, it is a work of art unto itself that strongly supports the music waiting inside.
As usual Hasse provides thought provoking, imagery filled lyrics and soaring vocals that serve only to push his music further and higher. However, he went out of his way to make sure that he wasn’t the only voice to be heard on this record, no matter how powerful it is, and this album is filled with something the prior two didn’t have much of, and that’s vocal harmonies and lovely ones at that. Hasse and the boys have really outdone themselves creating a body of music that has all of my favourite elements of Prog: beautiful and memorable melodies, virtuosity applied appropriately and with restraint, that seemingly randomness that leaves me initially wondering what’s happening but quickly sucks me in and only makes each additional listen even better. HFMC is another great step for the Musical Companion, and if we find ourselves thinking that the Prog scene is particularly lively and strong right now, it is in part because an album like this surfaced during it.