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Press ramblings describe The Custodian as "the U.K.'s newest and most exciting progressive rock band". Don't they all claim that? Well, in the case of this talented quartet, they might just be the UK's most intriguing new prog-rock bands... at least on paper. Why might that be, some of you are probably asking? Does the name Xerath mean anything to you? When they burst onto the scene four years ago with their debut album, they most certainly had a legitimate reason to declare themselves as the UK's newest and most exciting prog-metal band. Most fans of genuinely innovative metal who've heard their music in either recorded or live form will testify to that. So why am I wittering on about Xerath? The Custodian are, in effect, three quarters of Xerath and there lies my intrigue. Led by said band's vocalist, Richard Thomson, the man's talents obviously stretch beyond mere growling. On 'Necessary Wasted Time', he's responsible for the clean vocals, drums, keys, programming and some guitars. I literally had no idea he was such a multi-talented musician. Joining him in this new venture are Xerath's drummer Michael Pitman on bass and vocals, guitarist Owain Williams (also from Xerath) and Nariman Poushin on acoustic guitar. The most remarkable thing about The Custodian is that they're the polar opposite of Xerath. There's no aggression, very few metal elements, no cinematic soundscapes and, generally, a distinct lack of dark intensity. Instead, we have a chilled-out, mellow prog-rock affair. Some songs are lengthy, others are not, but every single track takes its time to build on central motifs where melodies are afforded enough space to breathe and flourish within the arrangements. This is an album that you'd have to dedicate some time to - there's no quick hit of adrenaline-inducing musical innovation here; rather, The Custodian's aesthetic is a laid-back progressive one. There are some lengthy instrumental passages on the album (and purely instrumental numbers such as the eight and a half minutes of 'Things We Tell Ourselves') so this is not a work that relies on vocals to carry the songs - in that sense, the instrumentations and general arrangements are nicely layered and well-structured. And when vocals do appear, Thomson has a surprisingly authentic prog-rock voice that sounds straight out of the seventies and so apt for the music over which he sings. In short, this is classy and sophisticated prog with a refined sense of artistry.
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd July 2013
1) The Man Out of Time
2) Stop Talking
3) Other People's Lives
4) Persona
5) Things We Tell Ourselves
6) Departure
7) The Sun is God
8) Necessary Wasted Time
"...classy and sophisticated prog with a refined sense of artistry."