Crucible - Tall Tales

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Orchard
Catalog Number: 1082
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:50:00

This first release by Connecticut based band Crucible has everything that an aspiring group would want, as far as recording values go. The keyboards sounds are lush and powerful, to an extent because on this CD real vintage Hammond Organ and Mellotron are used; and to give Crucible their due, the keyboards are well played by Tim Horan. The guitars are warm, and strike just the right tones, both electrics and acoustic. The acoustics are used well and often. Guitarist Dan Esposito, with help from Tim Horan, is well versed at the Genesis trademark style of softly chiming guitar picking. Both bassist Chris Kasidas and drummer Tony Cappellina are excellent musicians, Capellina especially so. The drums on Tall Tales are very striking, compared to the light handed style of Phil Collins, of the previously mentioned Genesis, who Crucible obviously emulate.

The problem I hear with this CD is the same as that of some other neo-prog, or retro-prog bands. That is the lack of any real distinctive or memorable material. Crucible has one other glaring fault. That is, lead vocalist Bill Esposito, who in my opinion is a dead ringer for Rush vocalist Geddy Lee. Some listeners will certainly find his voice perfectly acceptable, maybe even exceptional, and to each his own. But I can't help but have the comparison in mind as I hear Crucible, and it doesn't add to my enjoyment of their music. Sorry guys.

I admit to having a preference for the bands that created the genre, and the music of the 1970s in general, and the wisdom of trying to compare that music to the CDs released by today's bands is questionable, I confess.

Yet, the musical spirits of Yes or Genesis, who provide the most often used templates for neo-progressive groups, are not easily ignored. The trend seems to be to capture the general sonic characteristics of these groups, but the quirky individuality of these giants of the past are replaced with elements of more recent influences, and that is as it must be.

Just as Jimi Hendrix influenced the playing of everyone in the 70s, life after Eddie Van Halen could never be the same. The same can be said of the impact of Neil Peart on drummers everywhere. Once revealed, these genies can never be put back in the bottle. Time, and music, wait for no one. Today's neo-prog must be judged on its own terms, its own merits.

Having gotten that monkey off my back, I still hear something lacking on Tall Tales. To put it correctly, the problem is, I don't hear "something" on this CD, and that is compelling songs. I don't dislike this release, I just don't have any strong reaction to it at all. It has some nice moments, but that special spark, that unique personality that a band needs to distinguish it from the pack just isn't there. The songs have no strong or memorable themes or lyrics. After listening to Tall Tales a half dozen times today, I can't think of anything that stands out in my mind that would make me want to hear it again. It is nicely constructed, well played, but no more than that.

Needlessly complicated flourishes are added to spice up the proceedings, but ultimately it doesn't help. Some sections of the music arouse interest, but it is not sustained for long.

The best track is the first, "Over The Falls," which has some nice keyboard work, but then I can't resist the sound of a Hammond. The track begins nicely, there's that word again, but the song ultimately falls a bit flat.

"An Imp's Tale," the final track is the longest work here, their multi-part suite. It is made up of seven individually named sections. Of these, the first, "Twice Upon A Time," and the last, "Day Of The Hungry Dwarf ," aroused my interest and had me hoping for something I could commend about this CD, but to no avail. "An Imp's Tale" was touted as the bands epic, supposedly comparable to "Supper's Ready." Hardly.

Another release will surely permit the band some growth and additional musical maturity. They are certainly talented musicians, and I hope they will get that chance.

[Crucible called it quits, or at least went on "hiatus," after their sophomore release, 2001's Curtains -ed.]

Over The Falls (7:05) / The Poet Liar (5:00) / Find The Line (4:05) / Lords And Leeches (11:21) / In Ancient Tongue (3:08) / The Salamander (4:52) / Land For Sale (4:47) / An Imp's Tale (21:09) / A. Twice Upon A Time - B. Adrift - C. Stone Of The Wise - D. The Mortal Flaw - E. Nomad Brad - F. Release The Imps - G. Day Of The Hunting Dwarf

Tony Cappellina - drums, percussion
Bill Esposito - lead vocals
Dan Esposito - lead and rhythm guitar
Tim Horan - piano, organ, acoustic guitar, flute
Chris Kasidas - bass guitar

Tall Tales (2000)
Curtains (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1668
Language: english


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