Oaksenham — Conquest of the Pacific
(Musea FGBG 4727.AR, 2006, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2007-03-01
Seems like a long time since we reviewed this Armenian band’s debut live release Woden’s Eve Live; in fact it was 2002, and since then the band has been diligently working on this, their ambitious studio follow-up. Again, the six-piece of acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, violin, keyboards, and flute go the instrumental route, augmenting their already rich sound with guest players on string harp, english horn, bassoon, oboe, clarinet, cello, french horn, bagpipes, and orchestral percussion, all track depending. These compositions stand strong as instrumentals, rich in melody and counterpoint, blazing with guitar, keyboard, and violin solos, with plenty of twists, turns, and complexities to keep them interesting from beginning to end. The warmth and range of emotions encompassed within the scope of their music is nothing short of stunning, and these are all exceptional players. Make no mistake though, even with all those orchestral instruments at work, these folks can and do rock with the best of them. Their spirited instrumental arrangements of two Gentle Giant classics back-to-back (“Talybont” and “On Reflection”) give away one of their apparent influences, though this writer is more often reminded of Red Queen era Gryphon in Oaksenham’s overall approach and instrumentation. The 26-minute five-part title suite closes the disc nicely, summarizing everything this band is about. Fans of GG, Gryphon, Snow Goose era Camel, Mike Oldfield, and other ambitious progressive rock works will definitely find this disc to their liking.
Related artist(s): Oaksenham
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