It takes a good progressive rock band to write a seven minute track that doesn’t for one moment feel bloated. Thank the heavens above then that Coralspin are a good progressive rock band.
In ‘Sons of the Sleeping Giant’, the band boldly opens ‘Honey and Lava’ with the longest track on the record, though a quite excellent guitar riff running through at the song’s core makes it a memorable start.
‘You’re Wrong’ is another example of outstanding musicianship, with Ellie Blyth’s haunting voice delivering a fine chorus that 99% of bands can only wish they had written. Prog-rock or not, fans of any genre could surely appreciate the quality of the album’s highlight.
The production of ‘Honey and Lava’ is excellent taking into account that keyboard player Blake McQueen built not only the studio but the computers that the songs were recorded on. A real professional job has been done here; giving a suitable platform for Coralspin’s cultured sound to really thrive.
The synth-led ‘Mistimed’ is another majestic piece of music, before ‘Burn My Eyes’ and ‘Sky’s End’ prove that Coralspin are by no means one trick ponies. An elevated tempo gives ‘Burn My Eyes’ a sense of freshness, with lyrics such as ‘take my sword and pierce my side, a crown of thorns, then bleed me dry’ testament to McQueen’s sharp song writing. ‘Sky’s End’, co-written by guitarist Jake Simmons, is a track of many layers, punctuated by a skilled guitar solo in the midst of more expert vocals from the trained classical and opera singer Blyth, whilst an assortment of electronic sounds almost go unnoticed as they subtly play over the song’s surface.
The quality dips as the album approaches its final few tracks though, with ‘Songbird’ never really taking off in time to become the stirring ballad that it has the potential to be. ‘Night Stalker’ seems slightly ordinary amongst much better songs, while final track ‘Aching’ does manage to pick up the baton for one final burst before the end.
It was almost inevitable that after the first five tracks, anything less than outstanding would be dwarfed by earlier efforts. Still, the so-called ‘weaker’ tracks are still very listenable.
The tagline on the band’s website promises ‘beautiful, barnstorming modern prog rock’, and for the most part that is exactly what you get with ‘Honey and Lava’. Of course, the genre in question isn’t one renowned for the instant gratification that it gives to its listeners, and this is another example of a prog album that grows with every play, seemingly offering something different every time. Though some of the choice tracks are fairly immediate, only repeated listens can do this collection full justice.
Even if all you do is check out ‘Sons of the Sleeping Giant’, ‘You’re Wrong’ and ‘Sky’s End’, make sure you do so. Coralspin have a lot to offer, and not just to hardened prog fans.
Rated 7 out of 10