Citizen Cain - Raising The Stones

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 059
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:37:00

Along with Fish, Citizen Cain has put Lothian on the prog map. The band were originally based in London but split and then re-formed in Edinburgh around the core of Cyrus Scott and guitarist Steve Taylor. Their debut album Serpents In Camouflage was originally released on SI Music, and will be released on Cyclops later this year. In 1994, they released the excellent Somewhere But Yesterday which has since been re-released on Cyclops. Raising The Stones is the band's long awaited third album. The band are now down to a two-piece with Cyrus on vocals and bass guitar, and Stewart Bell on keyboards and percussion. Alistair MacGregor provided guitar on the first track. All the compositions are by Citizen Cain, while Cyrus provided all the lyrics as well as doing the suitably complex, intricate and confusing artwork for the CD booklet.

"(Little Greedy Children) Last Days Of Cain" is a typical Citizen Cain composition. Just over thirteen minutes of incredible complexity in three parts: "Dead Man Rising," "Tears Of Tomorrow" and "Ixion's Conclusion". There is a darkness to the track especially evident in the second phase where Cyrus' disharmonic harmonies are especially effective. "Ixion's Conclusion" is a frantic instrumental with Cyrus and Stewart hammering out a sound to compete with bands three times their size. "Monsters Or Men (Bad Karma)" opens with another up-tempo instrumental section before Cyrus' haunting vocals leer out of the speakers at the listener. This serves to change the whole tempo and ambience of the track, as we have more darkness and threatening atmosphere, suitable for Cyrus' lyrics about: "a beast whose purpose is drowning our humanity".

The third track consists of two parts: "First Gate ? Open Yet Closed" and "(Ghosts Of Jerico part 2) Looking Heaven In The Face." Yes, Citizen Cain does make their titles almost as complicated as their music. "First Gate" is the darkest track yet with low rumbling keyboards, strange tinny percussion and Cyrus' vocals. This segues into "Looking Heaven..." which is a cluttered, busy track with full choral backing to the vocals which develops into a very Genesisy mellow epitaph. "Corcyra - The Supplicants" has totally lost me. Not only do I not understand the title (well, except for the "the"), the music and lyrics are still too complicated for me to follow. Stewart's keyboards have outrageously complex instrumental sections and the lyrics? Well. Explain this, the final lines: "a man he dreamt of tidal waves, a crushing on his head; and when he woke he found himself upon the deep seas bed". I don't understand that.

[Corcyra (now called K?rkira, or Corfu) is an island off the east coast of what is now Greece; settled by Corinthians in 734 BC, their alliance with Athens against Corinth in 435 BC contributed to the start of the Peloponnesian War. -ed.]

The fifth track comes in five parts: "Dreaming Makes the World Go Round," "Variations," "The Blood Plains Of Hev-Hem," "Forever and Aborted." Again, I have no idea what Cyrus is singing about "An open season, cocked and ready, shotgun intrusion, Your cow has died and filled your belly, Each one a loser". Beats me! the whole track is one mass of complexity and intricacy where changes in key, chord and tempo abound. Next up is another composition in two parts. "The Last Supper (Ylilea's Dream)" draws on themes from "Bad Kharma" while "In Deep Waters'" lyrics: "Three little fishes caught trapped in a net, Resolved to leave their waves, Then came the gutting knife, Cut them in half, Now their heads devour their tails". I know Gabriel had some weird ideas in Nursery Crime, but nothing quite a strange as this!

"The Ghost Of Jericho (part 1)" is one of the tracks which has hit home. It is also in two parts: "Secret Of Hidden Things" and "I Spy With My Little Life." It is quite a simple song at least by Citizen Cain's measurements. "Secrets" has all the pomp and glory of Genesis at their best while "I Spy..." is almost mellow and laid-back. Next up is another track in two parts: "Black Rain" and "Webs." "Black Rain" sets its stall out right from the start: "Death striking like lightening, Fear killing within, Life stealing, heads reeling, He can't understand this." And if I said it was a killer of a track, but I am not entirely sure I understand it either, I hope it does not sound too contrived. There are switched from tempo to tempo as the track develops. "Webs" is the finale to the track, but I don't see it as being in anyway separate, except maybe in the lyrical array. Cyrus spits out the lyric as the track hammers to a close.

The final track on the album is the fourteen minute epic "Silently Seeking Euridice." This comes in six parts: "A Lover's Tale," "The Stalker's Dance," "Fixing Broken Hearts," "The Trickery," "The Stalker Stance ? Intending It," and "Will-O'-The Wish." This is a cracker of a track, maybe one of the more accessible on the album. That is not saying that it is in anyway simple. Yeagadz, no! This throws themes, different tempos and key changes with every new stave ? well maybe not, but it does feel that way at times. "The Stalker's Dance" phases, for example, build up from a simple melody to an outrageously complex leg-breaker of a dance. It is a suitably impressive track to close the album with, and has so far emerged as Frankie's fave.

If Somewhere was a complex album, Raising The Stones has outdone it and then some! I have been listening to this album on and off for a couple of months and I am still left confused. Little sections keep falling into place each time I give it a spin, but I am still a long way from understanding the whole thing. I reckon I could still be working on this by the end of the year. "Why bother?" I hear you yell. Because I love this kind of music. Somewhere must go down as one of my all-time favourite albums and that took some working on. I suspect that Raising The Stones could eventually emerge to be even better.

At the moment I don't rate Raising The Stones as highly as Somewhere. Part of this may been because I feel the sound is limited by the limitations on the instrumentation brought on by only having two members in the band. I would like to have seen more guitars and bass, and I think for all his energy and enthusiasm Stewart is more a keyboard player than a drummer. However, I know the guys have been searching for more band members for quite a while with no luck. I fear that the demands on a new member to cope with Cyrus and Stewart's compositions is a bit much for most musicians. Personally I would be too scared to go for an audition having heard the last two albums! But on the plus side, Cyrus' voice is in excellent form ? he should be up their in most people's top vocalist list. And Stewart's keyboards are excellent. There are a lot of demands on him to produce a full "band" sound, and he does it with ease. You end up forgetting that there is little there except for the keyboards supporting Cyrus' vocals.

[Andy Heatlie writes: "A small correction ... [a]though Alistair Macgregor played on earlier releases, on this album the guitar on Track 1 is correctly credited to Andy Heatlie. On the forthcoming album it will be a gent by the name of Phil (who unlike myself is a truly suberb lead guitarist). Should be good!" -ed.]

This review courtesy Frank Blades and Alternate View (sans my editoral historical note) ... an ezine that has disappeared sadly (as of August 2005) -ed.

Hell's Greedy Children (13:17) / Bad Karma (8:07) / First Gate (4:06) / Corcyra (6:31) / Dreaming Makes the World (11:51) / The Last Supper (2:29) / Ghosts of Jericho (5:24) / Black Rain (6:30) / Silent Seeking Euridice (13:42)

Cyrus Scott - vocals and bass
Stewart Bell - keyboards and percussion
Andy Heatlie - guitar (1)

Serpents In Camouflage (1993/1998)
Somewhere But Yesterday (1994/1997)
Ghost Dance (1996)
Raising The Stones (1998)
Playing Dead (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Frank Blades

Artist website:
Hits: 1068
Language: english


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