Advent – Cantus Firmus

By Mark Elliot
Advent - Cantus FirmusTrack 1 “GK Contramundum” is a very brave start to any CD, 2 minutes of pure vocal, this makes you sit up and think “wow” this band is different!
Track 2 “Awaiting the Call” starts a bit jazz rock then envelopes into a lovely English 60’s folk piece then back into the band sound. Lots of twists and turns in the music keep you on the edge of your seat, but the fade out was a bit premature for me.
Track 3 “Parenting Parents” again has a lovely folk feel with a wonderful vocal and some fantastic chord progressions. This band really knows about sound and texture and although the production is very modern it still manages to retain a lot of spirit, which a lot of other bands seem to lose in the mix.
Track 4 “Utter Once Her Name” is the most explorative track so far with touches of The Enid meets early Caravan. It’s very complicated but there is enough going on to hold your interest. I would have opted for a more uptempo song at this point.
Track 5 “Remembering When” is a lovely acoustic guitar piece with a very sensitive lead guitar and bass joining in later. Touches of early Mike Oldfield here but beautifully executed with multi-layered lead parts interweaving with the chords in a brilliant way.
Track 6 “Ramblin’ Sailor” is probably the most complicated and involved sea shanty ever written. That said this 18 minute track flows beautifully from one piece to the next with some incredible playing and music construction. Again modern production doesn’t get in the way of setting the scene and really taking you on a nautical journey across the seven seas, even if the character in the song seems to be heading to his local bar for some wine, women and song.
Track 7 “Your Healing Hand” is a haunting vocal driven piece with some complex but beautiful harmonies backed up with some superb production. This track has a wonderful choral feel and would sound fantastic in a big Gothic church played through a large system.
Track 8 “Firmus Finale” reverts to the band sound which is a good thing because the CD was getting a bit like “too much of a good thing” with the vocal songs. This is prog at its best with some wonderful tricky time changes and spectacular melodic progressions.
There are two bonus tracks, originally recorded in 1992 which give listeners an insight into this band’s past, both are exceptionally good but should be treated as seperate items from the rest of this CD.
I would like to hear this wonderful album a few more times before I could really comment on it fully, purely due to the complex nature of the music, but I’m sure it will grow on me and the first listening was a wholly enjoyable experience.