The year 2012 is a good year for the German progressive rock scene. The two most renowned German bands of the moment, Sylvan and RPWL, will release a new studio album in the first months of this new progressive year. My review of the new Sylvan double album “Sceneries” you can already find on progVisions. Now it is time for the new RPWL album entitled “Beyond Man and Time”. This is the first concept album by the band and it is a musical journey through the world outside of Platon's cave. The title of the album is inspired by the Nietzsche famous words “6000 feet beyond man and time”, which you can find in his opus magnum “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. RPWL's story's protagonist is on a journey and meets various characters, partly adapted from Zarathustra, as means towards new insight. The basic idea in this is a so-called “revaluation of values” in terms of a new way of thinking. In this world beyond man and time there already are creatures of higher knowledge that the protagonist meets allegorically along his way: the keeper of the cave, the willingly blind, the scientist, the ugliest human, the creator, the shadow, the wise man in the desert and the fisherman. RPWL's concept album “Beyond Man and Time” closes with a first resume, the big noon.
In addition to the regular version of the album there will be also be a bonus edition limited of 2000 copies. This exclusive edition includes an additional audio book that connects the music even more closely to the philosophical approach, plus a topographic map of the new world that is to be explored.
Yogi Lang - vocals, keyboards; Kalle Wallner - guitars; Markus Jehle - keyboards; Werner Taus - bass; Marc Turiaux - drums
The album opens with the track “Transformed”. A short instrumental track with mysterious keyboard sounds, percussion and some Indian sitar. The first character is introduced in the track “We Are What we Are (The Keeper)”. The first part of this song is slow and has a typical RPWL atmosphere with great melodic vocal refrains. Those vocal refrains are interspersed with beautiful instrumental pieces with nice drumwork and great guitar and keyboard solo's. The tension of the music is slowly building up towards the next vocal refrain. When you hear those first tracks of the album as a RPWL fan ... you immediately know that this album is something special. It reminds me of the excitement I had when I listened for the first time to their debut album “God has Failed”. The title track “Beyond Man and Time (The Blind)” opens with a beautiful melodic guitar part. The melodies in this piece are great and the Pink Floyd influences are shining lightly through the music. In fact it is not fair anymore to compare the music of both bands. Those influences are completely integrated in the unique RPWL sound that the band developed over the years. To be honest I am a big RWPL fan ... but not very into the music of the above mentioned band. The band can consider this as a great compliment. The music flows seamlessly into the next track “Unchain The Earth (The Scientist)”. After a slow and delicate opening this track develops into a more uptempo track with beautiful keyboard strings. But the overall sound of this first section of this album is on the mellow side of progressive music. The strong points are the delicious melodies the band composed. The next two tracks “Ugliest Man in the World (The Ugly)” and “The Road of Creation (The Creator)” has more tempo and some of the guitar sounds reminds me of the sound Alex Lifeson was using at the time of the Rush album “Grace under Pressure”. The guitar playing of Kalle Wallner is more aggressive and rhythmic in those tracks. In the second part of the song “Ugliest Man in the World (The Ugly)” you can also enjoy some nice synth and organ solo's. In “The Road of Creation (The Creator)” the voice of Yogi Lang is slightly distorted. “Somewhere in Between (The Dream of Saying Yes)” is a short mellow song with nice percussive (xylophone) keyboard sounds. The next character of the story is the cheerful song “The Shadow”. “The Shadow” is also one of the more uptempo tracks of the middle section of this concept album. Personally I think the opening section with the tracks “Transformed”, “We are what we are”, “Beyond man and Time” and “Unchain the Earth” are more interesting than this middle section with the tracks “The Ugliest man in the World”, “The Road of Creation” and “The Shadow”. But what about the closing section of this very good concept album? The first track is called “The Wise in the Desert” which is subdivided into the parts “The Wise in the Desert” and “The Silenced Song”. But the song where you are waiting for is “The Fisherman” which is divided into the parts “High as the Mountain Part 1”, “The Abyss” and “High as the Mountain Part 2”. “High as the Mountain Part 1” is a diverse track with some great melodies, nice guitar and organ solo's and full Mellotron choirs. And then it is suddenly there ... one of the most beautiful RPWL melodies ever... I'm sure you will notice this part when you are listening to the album ... a breathtaking melodic guitar solo on top of broad keyboard strings ... just before the delicate second part “The Abyss”. The epic “The Fisherman” is absolutely the highlight of the album. “High as the Mountain Part 2” has beautiful melodic guitar parts and great keyboard strings. The album closes with the song “The Noon (The Eternal Moment of Return)”. This beautifully sung ballad with delicate guitar parts is a worthy ending of this great concept album.
“Beyond Man and Time” is a very good RPWL album. Personally I find the first and last sections of the album the strongest. The 16 minute epic “The Fisherman” is the highlight of the album. It is also the most symphonic/progressive piece of the album. As always you can find beautiful vocal refrains and delicious melodic guitar parts on a RPWL album. I think that “Beyond Man and Time” is one of the best RPWL albums so far. What a start of the new progressive year!