El Shalom - Frost

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 055
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:19:00

El Shalom's Frost is of interest mainly because of the well played instrumentation, where guitars and keyboards are the dominant instruments and many of the tracks feature some very nice guitar leads. This album draws heavily from a variety of influences including Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and, to a much lesser degree, King Crimson. Released in 1976, many of those band's seminal works had already been released and so it is not surprising to think that they may have had some influence on this German band. The band combine both the dark elements ? guitars, bass, and some of the drums ? and lighter elements ? flute, guitar leads, percussion and some of the keyboard washes (moog, organ and mellotron) of each of these sources. There is a level of complexity to the arrangements that is often mired in muddy production ? not on the part of GoD for this reissue, but in the original recording.

There are two highlights and one lowlight. The first highlight is, "Kreislaufkollaps," which has a classic 70s rock sound with harmonized vocals, a throbbing bass, and big swooping guitar. At times The Who come to mind, especially in that big guitar sound. But within seconds, that whole feel changes to something very Pink Floyd like, where at times it is like "Have A Cigar" (from Wish You Were Here) and at others, especially when we get some watery, slinky organ, like something from Dark Side Of The Moon. The second highlight is "Frost," which begins rather gloomily and sad, and continues on in an early Genesis-like style that is heard previously on an earlier track, "Alwin Zweistein." Although vocalist Helmut Meier doesn't sound like Peter Gabriel, there are some similarly delivered vocals in "Alwin Zweisstein," where a falsetto is adopted by the conclusion of a particular vocal phrase. Flute provides a nice, lighter element to accent the otherwise funeral arrangement. Helmut Meier and Karlheinz Schmitz share lead vocal duties, Meier being the better of the two.

The lowlight? "Birthday Song." It's a title that is misleading as it has nothing to do birthdays (?unless you work out a complex metaphor based on the brief text). Though Yes-like in sound, it is otherwise rather ? well, in mentioning this song in his review, Greg Northrup (at The Giant Progweed) used the word "twee" and I'd have to agree. Though "Der Werbegnom," with its fat, loose bass and chiming guitar has a perhaps unintentional humourous exuberance, the humor factor of "Birthday Song" is more of the embarrassing type, given the surrounding seriousness. Lyrically, it attempts at seriousness, but fails miserably. Oh, just think of Oliver and your reaction to "Good Morning, Starshine" and you'll get what I mean (No silly chorus of made up words, though).

It's Yes again in the symphonic "Princess June," certainly because of the bed of keyboards (Joachim Brands), complex percussion patterns (Wolfgang Merkens), but also due to the high vocals a la Jon Anderson from Schmitz at the beginning (Schmitz' voice later deepens and that Yes impression dissipates). With the swell of mellotron that provides the backdrop, it is King Crimson that comes to mind, too, and that ubiquitously mentioned "In The Court Of?" song from that band's debut (heard again in "Alwin Zweistein")

"H., A. Un Zwirn," is plagued by a particularly high pitched, twiddly keyboard tone that just about drives me up a wall. With only three lines of lyrics, this is really more an instrumental piece that includes a Steve Hackett-esque guitar solo, a sour sax solo, and ends up sounding like the theme from S.W.A.T., a US 70s cop show.

The CD contains four bonus tracks, the 7" re-recorded version of "Birthday Song" (which doesn't benefit anything from the clearer production) and its flip, "Geld." The latter two are live recordings from, which shows an El Shalom with an angrier, harsher sound.

What results is an average album with some very good performances, but is not something to get overly excited about, unless you are a devout collector of rare German prog. I don't question it being reissued, but unless you fall into that category, it isn't a "must have."

Der Werbegnom (3:40) / Princess June (5:25) / Krieslaufkollaps (5:55) / Alvin Zweistein (8:00) / Frost (8:00) / H., A. Und Zwirn (6:40) / Birthday Song (2:55) / Leipzig (4:35) / Bonus Tracks: Birthday Song (3:12) / Geld (3:15) / In The House Of The Blue Light (5:42) / Second One (3:00)

Joachim Brands ? keyboards, vocals
Hemlut Meier - bass, flute, vocals
Gunter Christ ? guitars, vocals
Wolfgang Merkins ? drums, vocals
Karlheinz Schmitz - guitar, flute, saxophone, vocals

Frost (1976/2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: May 18th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1616
Language: english


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