A decade in existence, the UK's very own Headspace have just an EP and one album to their name, although 2016 finally sees the release of their sophomore offering, 'All That You Fear Is Gone'. Their non-prolificacy is, I guess, understandable, given that this is something of a side-project for most band members and they're somewhat busy with their day-job bands. Aside from other musical outlets, keys man Adam Wakeman, son of Rick, has been playing in Ozzy Osbourne's band for a number of years. Vocalist Damian Wilson is, of course, the Threshold frontman amongst a myriad of other ventures, including the ongoing, de-metalized Iron Maiden tribute, Maiden United. Then there's bassist Lee Romery, who's lent his resonant tones to multifarious acts, both recorded and live, such as Take That, Steve Hackett and Jeff Lynne's ELO, as well as a current member of This Oceanic Feeling and It Bites. Guitarist Pete Rinaldi was the onetime axeman for ephemeral hard rockers Hot Leg, the band founded and formed by The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins, while sticksman Adam Falkner, the newcomer of the band following the departure last year of original drummer Richard Brook, has played with the likes of Babyshambles and Dido, as well as being the man currently behind the kit for indie rockers One Eskimo. A mixed bag of musical talent? You bet! And their combined talents translate into an innovative, yet accessible, set of compositions that constitute 'All That You Fear Is Gone'.
The overarching aesthetic of the album is an invigorating blend of both the old and the new. Old in the sense of discernible traces of Headspace's established compositional mindset on debut album 'I Am Anonymous'... albeit with a definite progression of these sonic foundations. Old, also, in the sense of prog rock pastiche, where traits from the so-called progressive genre of yore are present here and there. However, there's the overwhelming feeling that something new has also been created here, away from the paradoxically branded "prog" genre. Indeed, there's a sense of genuine, rather than generic, progression at work throughout the album, where songs' compositional structures aren't ever sacrificed for mindless and aimless prog technicalities. Quite the contrary, the music on this album feels very natural in both its emotional depths and musicality. The true crux and core of 'All That You Fear Is Gone' resides in a genuine progression and freshness, through five men's combined skills and diverse backgrounds.
That said, the album isn't a wildy diverse work per se, at least not stylistically. On the surface, there are discernible traits of metal, rock, balladic, alt-pop et al. However, most importantly, these have been blended in the most natural of ways that, ultimately, transcends the genres which underpin each changing element and mood. I guess this is largely due to Headspace's songwriting astuteness where the instrumentations have been composed with enough space to allow key motifs, atmospheres and emotions to develop and progress in various intriguing and engaging ways. As such, the album's diversity lies within the range of changing moods as each new composition weaves a melodically rich path that switches between mellow and heavy passages with so much ease that it's easy to become immersed in Headspace's sounds.
Each musician plays his arse off on the album, creating some genuinely heartfelt sounds through their instruments, while also sporadically letting rip with a captivating fluency. And Wilson's vocals both convey and enhance the emotions already inherent in the instrumentations, with some moments of true beauty. The title track, for example, is pure sublimity, as acoustic guitar, keys, and voice are blended with a profound affection. Equally sublime is the Wakeman/Wilson duality a short way into 'Your Life Will Change’, with a melody line that's simply exquisite. And kudos, once again, to the ever prolific Jens Bogren, whose mixing talents have done justice to the band's own production skills, whereby the weighting of each and every instrument seems to be perfectly balanced and blended (to my ears, at least).
Headspace's follow-up to 'I Am Anonymous' might've been a long-time coming, but it's been worth the wait. An emotionally complex album that neatly reflects the polysemic lyrics, this is a work of profound affective depths. Call it progressive if you will, and I'll not get bogged down with the debate of generic prog vs. genuine prog vs. "should there be a genre called progressive at all?" (a paradox, no?), but I opt to label this, more straightforwardly, as fucking great music.
ALL THAT YOU FEAR IS GONE
Review by Mark Holmes
26th February 2016
1) Road to Supremacy
2) Your Life Will Change
3) Polluted Alcohol
4) Kill You With Kindness
5) The Element; 6) The Science Within Us
8) The Death Bell
9) The Day You Return
10) All That You Fear Is Gone
11) Borders and Days
12) Secular Souls
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"An emotionally complex album that neatly reflects the polysemic lyrics, this is a work of profound affective depths."