Sapphire - The Second Sun

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Zytglogge Verlag
Catalog Number: ZYT 4839
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:06:00

Swiss based Sapphire have a sound that borders on progressive for its first couple of tracks, having a sound akin to many artists on the Cyclops label - Epilogue or Tristan Park, for example. In fact, on the initial track, I'm brought to mind also of two other bands, Spock's Beard - not so much sound as feel - and Royal Hunt, more sound than feel. This isn't a metal track, but like Royal Hunt, a similiar use of vocal harmony.

Once past that, their sound is a compendium of many different rock styles - but mainly I hear Blues Traveller. Unless you're strictly a progressive metal listener, there really is a lot to enjoy about this album, even if isn't truly "progressive."

Keyboardist Christian Freiburghaus' sound is a very classic sound, no doubt aided by "vintage keys," as it says on the sleeve, and Hammond. The keys take the lead on "The Call," creating a smooth, undulating bed of sound, over which Andreas Hidber's steelstring guitar plays.

Atmospheric guitar effects over a quick, sustained drum tattoo by Martin Bammerlin opens the title track. When the rest of instruments chime in, it gives this track a very dramatic, expectant feel. This is all part of an intro that includes some spoken bits and seques into a very gentle vocal by Howald.

80's MOR is maybe the best comparision - this would play comfortable next to any one already mentioned, plus add Christopher Cross to that list, Bruce Hornsby maybe ... Little River Band ... .America ... so many others I could name ... and yet, "Suddenly" has that epic keyboard sound like latter day Marillion - say in the period after Brave, but before Radiation. This one takes us back to that Cyclops/neo-prog sound.

In fact, their bio says: "The band combines the different influences of the seventies, pop, moden grooves, and classic music to their own Sapphire-like style." So maybe a late 70s is an even better comparison.

Having said what I have about Howald as a vocalist, I find his voice to be very rich, warm, and expressive. Just that right balance between and light and dark ... I really like his voice, it's very inviting.

Their playing is tight and very good - I've not heard their first disk, but as this is their second, I imagine this is a very strong sophmore effort. This is really a beautful and well put together disk.

Recommended for fans of the neo-progressive bands mentioned and of that style. Personally, I really like this and bears repeated plays.

The final three tracks, by the way, are the radio edits for "listeners who fade out every song after three minutes" it says on the sleeve.

Fear (4:51) / The Call (5:10) / Second Sun (7:25) / Living (4:05) / Blackmail (3:13) / I Thought (5:01) / Something Bigger (4:23) / Suddenly (7:29) / Guiding Light (5:34) / Living (3:21) / I Thought (3:23) / Guiding Light (4:11)

Stefan Howald - vocals
Andreas Hidber - guitars
Christian Freiburghaus - keyboards
Patric Ruff - bass
Martin Bammerlin - drums

Sapphire (1993)
The Second Sun (1997)
Triple (1998) What Do You Expect? (2001) (demo ep)
In Motion (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1104
Language: english


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