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The Sea Within and their eponymously titled debut album is what resulted from a collaboration between a sextet of rock/metal/prog luminaries, who've all successfully achieved respect and respectable success and within their day-job bands, other side projects and session work over the years. So, we have Pain of Salvation frontman Daniel Gildenl÷w; The Flower Kings' Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold; ubiquitous drummer extraordinaire Marco Minnemann; former Meat Loaf/Debbie Harry keys man Tom Brislin; and Flying Colors' Casey McPherson. Bring in the legend that is Yes' Jon Anderson; Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess and saxophonist Rob Townsend for guest spots, and you have what is, at least on paper, a whole ton of potential for something rather special. Indeed, listening to 'The Sea Within', that's precisely what these mightily talented folk have succeeded in creating.

So, just how did such a project come to fruition? From press blurb, I gather its genesis can be traced back to an original idea born from a natter between Stolt and Inside Out boss, Tomas Waber. Stolt's quoted as declaring he wanted "to move in a fresh direction with new collaborations", whereby Waber gave the green light for such a venture. From what I understand, the assemblage of personnel all initially congregated at Livingston Studios in London to work on material for the album, so it wasn't one of these remote-based internet, idea sharing collaborations across different countries and continents. Apparently, "some extra touches" were added in individuals' home studios following the original sessions in North London, although the core was born from what went down in Livingston. You can't beat actual human interaction when making music within the same space and time! This shines through in the songs on 'The Sea Within'.

And the music itself? Diversity is precisely what it's all about here. Well, diverse-ish. Elements of rock, prog, jazz, funk, folk, et al have been blended into well-rounded compositions, whereby the fusions sound like natural amalgams, rather than divergences into isolated genre-mimicry. It's all about about refined diversity, rather than in-your-face diversity. That said, there are overt twists and turns where songs incorporate more abrupt transitions into distinct genre territory - such as the blatant jazz interludes on 'Ashes of Dawn' and 'An Eye for an Eye for an Eye'.

On the whole, the album's quite retro sounding rather than modern. There are so many glaringly apparent nods to 70s rock and prog idioms, etc. However, it somehow manages to convey fresh vibes at the same time. I guess, ultimately, it's a fairly refreshing take on sounds of yore. And there's seemingly even a bit of Bowie worship going on with the vocal delivery and phrasing within 'An Eye for an Eye for an Eye', 'The Hiding of Truth' and emphatically so in 'The Roaring Silence'.

With eye-catching artwork by the evidently super talented Marcela Bolivar, this is, indubitably, one of the very best album covers I've seen in a long time. It'll garner the band that additional bit of attention of which they're more than deserving, based on the rather phenomenal music, in terms of both composition and performance, that makes up this quite wonderful album. And be it a fully-fledged new band, a sporadic side project, or a one-off, ephemeral collaboration, I know not, but let's all enjoy the here and now with, what is, a rather delicious record.
Inside Out
Review by Mark Holmes
22nd June 2018
1) Ashes of Dawn; 2) They Know My Name; 3) The Void; 4) An Eye for an Eye for an Eye; 5) Goodbye; 6) Sea Without; 7) Broken Cord; 8) The Hiding of Truth
BONUS CD: 1) The Roaring Silence; 2) Where are You Going?; 3) Time; 4) Denise
"...be it a fully-fledged new band, a sporadic side project, or a one-off, ephemeral collaboration, I know not, but let's all enjoy the here and now with, what is, a rather delicious record."