Persephone's Dream - Opposition

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Pup In A Cup Productions
Catalog Number: PD91694-3
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:57:00

Persephone's Dream (courtesy)Persephone's Dream's most recent release Opposition gets your blood flowing from the get-go with the energetic, rocking "Bevel." This funky, driving rocker features the lovely, robust vocals of Karen Nicely. Grinding guitars churn out a strutting groove over the beautiful cacophony of percussion. Nicely's style of singing harks back to the days of Pat Benatar, The Motels, Debbie Harry, Natalie Merchant, and host of other gutsy female frontwomen, though that last is the most subtle of the four named. Twenty years ago, this would be a summer time radio hit. The band throttles it back for the dreamy "Kindred Soil." Sparse guitar phrases from Rowen Poole paint shimmering lines of color while Kim Finney's keys whistle psychedelic shapes.

As the album transitions from the rockier "Puppetmaster" (which to me contains echoes of Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love") to the moody, atmospheric "Endymion," you realize how sonically diverse this album is. Even the little details are clearly heard -- a stream of sound here ...a shaker over there ... a bit of percussion over there ... (surely a combo of synths and percussion). While many of the tracks edge closer to the pop spectrum (the good kind), "Endymion" remains closer to the prog sprectrum. And if you are one those that are amazed by a vocalist with great range, then the last few seconds of this track will amaze you. Now, because I seem to have a largish library of musical snippets rattling around in my head, these final vocalizations made me think of Sarah Brightman and specifically her performance of the title piece of The Phantom Of The Opera.

Opposition is full of little gems, that one doesn't know which ones really to highlight. I hesitate to say that Persephone's Dream are a perfect band, but I am having a hard time drawing away from that conclusion. I certainly feel that the band took their time perfecting these tracks, but not to the point of sucking out any feeling or warmth. Nicely and Poole, who both write the lyrics are both gifted with their sense of poetry. Not everything is pretty and flowing however, as there is a terrifically sharp edge to the biting "don't try to drag me down" in "Dreamcatcher." Nicely isn't a shrinking violet.

"TV Talkshow" is also biting, but in a different way. Here the target is the wasteland that television has become -- at least for the most part. Though we really can say that it has always been thus - where even our news is entertainment, not information. We are welcomed to this "show" called "Static" by audience cheers, vocal commentary, and a throbbing drumbeat. The song proper (or rather the "TV Talkshow" segement) is the "commercial break." Distorted guitars, stabbing trills of keys, and vaguely militaristic percussion grabs us and takes along on the journey through this dark reality. Musically, there are some vague echoes of Rush, but it is more in terms of energy and punch than anything. While I'm sure the main targets are the so-called talk shows, one really can include such fare as Survivor, Fear Factor, Temptation Island etc. This mind-numbing inanity...oh, don't get me started. I think "TV Talkshow" is non-specific enough (though not unspecific) that you can draw your own examples of what the band is targeting.

I find that there are some Madonna like overtones to "10th Moon." Now, before you reach for that back button, bear with me, because I'm not thinking of the dance club Madonna (though I am talking of the same person), but the more arty, experimental Madonna. Those on some of the prog newsgroups often joke about a Madonna prog album ... this track might be the closest we get ... and maybe as close as we want to get. One would not want to hear too much of a pop polish on this already sparkling track. So, it's still plenty proggy, and its a beautiful track. But as I was listening to this for the upteenth time, the "Madonna thing" is what struck me each time.

Other highlights in brief - "Agents Of Chaos," a dark, brooding, and ominous track, with bass so deep and dark you feel it right "there" in your gut. Flutes and tinkling percussion open "Far Side Of Eden," a study in contrasts. Dark images described in light, though rich, tones. Howling winds set the scene for "Stormchaser" which has a live feel to it, perhaps because of those sound effects. But if one has listened to outdoor live performances at night, the sound carries in such a way on the cooler air that opens up the sound. That same feeling is here ... the canvas on which they paint this swirling, dark, tension filled vision is vast, the music very immediate. The last track "Serene Sea" is another stunner with some more terrific keyboard work from Kinney, shimmering percussion from drummer Ed Wiancko and percussionist John Tallent.

Even the booklet is a work of art, as colourful, yet darkened, digital images illustrate each track. The lyrics aren't merely printed out, but rendered. Spaced to emphasize this line or that, for example; use of different fonts, etc. This is a complete package... all this, I haven't even talked about themes yet!

But, let me not keep you from checking this out yourself any longer. I'm at coming to the end of the CD as I write this, and, as Nicely sings in "Stormchaser," "Oh yeah, can we do it again?" Yes, I'll think I'll cue this one up for another listen. One of the best releases for 2001, no question.

Bevel (4:17) / Kindred Soil (3:35) / Puppetmaster (4:16) / Endymion (5:06) / Hyperspace Minefield (6:00) / Dreamcatcher (6:58) / Static: TV Talkshow (4:18) / 10th Moon (7:27) / Agent Of Chaos (7:09) / Far Side Of Eden (5:20) / Stormchaser (7:29) / Serene Sea (7:02)

Kim Finney - keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals
Karen Nicely - vocals and lyrics
Rowen Poole - 6, 7, and 12 string electric and acoustic guitars, lyrics, and backing vocals
Chris Siegle - 5-string bass, flute and backing vocals
John Tallent - percussion, vibes, bells, whistles, backing vocals
Ed Wiancko - drums and backing vocals
Dawn Danyo - guest commentary (7)
Johnathan Fleischman - backing vocals (1)

Evening Mirage (1997)
Moonspell (1999)
Opposition (2001)
Pyre Of Dreams (2007)
Pan: An Urban Pastoral (2010)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: March 8th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 891
Language: english


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