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Dutch progsters The Aurora Project are a band I'm already very familiar with having caught both their sets at the ProgPower Europe festival in 2005 and 2008. A mightily impressive live act, how does their music translate to the recorded format on 'Shadow Border', follow up album to 2005 debut 'Unspoken Words'? Once again, as with their initial release, very well, and they've built upon the foundations that made 'Unspoken Words' such a fine work to produce another contemporary progressive record of epic magnitude. However, apart from occasionally unexpected twists and turns in the songs, we're talking 'progressive' as a genre here rather than anything that can be labelled progressive autonomously. Skilful Gilmour-inspired guitar leads by Remco van den Berg, the commanding vocals of Dennis Binnekade (which actually come across with more power in a live setting), and atmospheric keyboards courtesy of Mox 'Marcel' Guyt are the main driving force behind The Aurora Project's art, and combine to make an engaging listening experience from start to finish. An album of many disparate elements, and as expertly woven as these are into a coherent prog-whole, there are particular passages throughout that are a little too reminiscent of other songs. Look no further than opening track 'Human Gateway' where we have Riverside-esque palm-muted guitar (a band who were, coincidentally, introduced to the prog-world peripheral to their home country of Poland at ProgPower Europe in 2004), and a melody in the second song borrowed from Pink Floyd's 'High Hopes' at around 3:50 (although more stylistically reminiscent of My Dying Bride in its execution). And I'm sure a keyboard part near the beginning of 'The Trial' has been lifted from the 'Phantasm' soundtrack - an obscure point of reference, but go listen for yourself and make up your own mind. That said, 'Shadow Border' is still a mightily impressive album, which culminates in the 16+ minute title track, interweaving passages of disparate styles that have already been present throughout the album into a single lengthy song, including some accomplished jazz widdlings at 5:12. 'Shadow Border' is not without its flaws and where some will revel in the musical diversity on offer, others will no doubt construe this as inconsistent. I'm with the former opinion and I wholly recommended the album to any with a similar propensity.
Laser's Edge
Review by Mark Holmes
21st Sept 2009
1) Human Gateway
2) The Trial
3) Photonic Reunion
4) The Confession
5) Another Dream
6) Within the Realms
7) Shadow Border
"...they've built upon the foundations that made 'Unspoken Words' such a fine work to produce another contemporary progressive record of epic magnitude."