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There is a very much familial vibe at the core of Swedish progsters Introitus with the husband/wife combination of Mats and Anna Bender on keyboards and lead vocals respectively, alongside what I'm presuming are their offspring, drummer Mattias Bender and percussionist/keyboardist Johanna Bender, both of whom also provide backing vocals. Together with guitarist Henrik Björlind (also credited with flute and yet more keyboards), lead guitarist Pär Helje, and bassist Dennis Lindqvist, Introitus have delivered a mightily fine dose of retro flavoured, yet contemporary sounding, epic prog. While this, their sophomore full length release, sits at the rockier end of the prog spectrum, some harder-edged moments in the form of sporadic chunky guitar riffs and powerful drumming will also please those whose proclivity is more aligned to the metal side of prog. Bear in mind, though, that keyboard does feature heavily on this album, often prominent in the mix (no surprise there, I suppose, with three of the seven personnel involved credited with keys!), but the diversity of keyboard sounds on offer is rather astonishing and makes for a fully engaging listen. However, above all that, what's genuinely special about this album is some very fine songwriting with sublime melodies weaving through some well-structured, perfectly paced, and beautifully crafted compositions. And it's all executed to perfection. I have to admit not being too gripped during the first two or three minutes of opening track 'The Hand That Feeds You', not that the music is particularly bad or anything, rather nothing that really stands out. But, as the song develops during its 14+ minute playing time, some neat, unexpected twists and turns begin to garner attention and draw you into its sonic charms. And there lies the essence of the album - it is meant to be digested as a whole rather than in parts. That is to say, give it the time it deserves and the musical rewards are there to reap. True to its title, the 'elements' are present in four short instrumental pieces, 'Earth', 'Wind', 'Fire' and 'Water', interposed between the main lengthy compositions that constitute the album, with songs segueing into each other so there's a nice flow to the entire thing. Influence-wise, the press sheet alludes to Glass Hammer, latter days Kaipa and Pink Floyd, all of which can be heard but, beyond that, Introitus transcend their influences through the skilful songwriters they evidently are with some truly captivating and original melodies throughout. Special mention must also go to Anna Jobs Bender as her vocal performance is nothing short of stunning as she showcases both her power and range in a note perfect performance. In an age where many contemporary prog bands have become self-indulgent and a pale pastiche of those they mimic, Introitus are one of a few acts that shine through the pack. Gripping and incredible on every level.
Progress Records
Review by Mark Holmes
21st March 2011
1) The Hand That Feeds You
2) Earth
3) Like Always
4) Wind
5) Restless
6) Fire
7) Dreamscape
8) Water
9) Soulprint
"...what's genuinely special about this album is some very fine songwriting with sublime melodies weaving through some well-structured, perfectly paced, and beautifully crafted compositions."