Believe - Yesterday Is A Friend

Year of Release: 2008
Label: Metal Mind
Catalog Number: MMP CD 0593
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:53:00

Earlier this year, Believe released their second album, Yesterday Is A Friend. On the whole it is a much stronger, more dynamic release than their debut, Hope To See Another Day -- both in the diversity of material and the diversity within the pieces. The main elements (guitar, bass, keys, vocals, violin) seem more balanced, providing for a much richer listening experience, something that isn't just a platform for guitarist Mirek Gil to solo -- or for violinist Satomi to solo, though each plays and solos wonderfully here. I guess one could say that Yesterday? is a much more collaborative effort.

There are still hints of Marillion flirting around the edges, and these hints draw in a bit of a Fish ? flavor at one point. Although, actually, the band that I kept thinking of is the defunct UK group Red Jasper, with Tomek Różycki sounding a tad bit like Davey Dodds. Sure, the plucked guitar notes on "Mystery Is Closer" might whisper "Incommunicado," and the vocal performance and some key guitar phrases on "Unfaithful" remind of Hogarth and Rothery, respectively, but essentially one can really forget Marillion comparisons this time out.

Although Believe are a Polish "neo-prog" band, there is a pervading sense of the pagan, of an old-worldliness. Yes, it's the use of violin and acoustic textures, but it's also in the arrangements, the use of warmer tones in bringing about those arrangements ? and given that Red Jasper had that Celtic-pagan thing in their sound, you can see ? well, understand ? my association.

While the opening track, "Time" is okay -- at the outset it does strongly remind one of early Marillion, with the opening arpeggio recalling "He Knows You Know"* -- and is in keeping with whole Believe style on offer here, the real gems come after it, because it's the troika (at least for me) of tracks two, three and four that make this album a jewel. These three are my favorites, two of which are filled with deep emotion and warmth, and are enough different from each other to also give you a sense of what Believe are all about.

The troika begins with "Tumor," which moves effortlessly from the dark and sometimes demonic opening (with some Fishy speak-singing and panting) -- a slow march of percussion and violin, screaming guitar heard in the spaces -- to something smoothly romantic, with a dancing rhythm, all rendered with a middle-eastern motif. I even like the brief passage with when the vocals drop down to the baritone range and become almost an atmospheric device. They contrast nicely with the warmer, gliding vocals of the main section. Tinkling warm piano appears two-thirds of the way through, adding to what already is terrific track. Gil's solos are restrained and appropriately so and it is this that closes out the track.

It leads into the acoustic guitar and sweet violin that open the sing-songy "What They Want (Is My Life)." It is, like parts of "Tumor," romantic in nature, but moodier and pastoral. Oddly, Różycki also sounds a bit like Paul McCartney here, but don't become too attached to that thought. It is not entirely acoustic, and it ventures into rockier realms -- the tick-tick of percussion, keyboard washes, strums of electric guitar. While for me the highlight is Satomi's violin playing, her authoritative solos become the key element of this track, Gil lets loose with a throaty guitar solo (at almost the halfway point). Karol Wróblewski guests on flute, adding a lovely trilling element to what is already bountiful of musical riches. In fact, even bassist Przemas Zwadski is given a chance in the spotlight, a simple throbbing bassline; although that spotlight shared with at first Różycki (on vocals), then Gil, then Satomi ? at some point drummer Vlodi Tafel is added to the mix and the pair ultimately close out this section with Różycki on acoustic guitar, and then with Gil once more, before the track returns to full bloom.

The third track is "Mystery Is Closer," and is one of those tracks that stands out, perhaps because of the repeated chorus, which is catchy. It begins with a "tribal" percussive pattern from Tafel (who introduced Hope?'s "Coming Down" similarly; it also being the third of three highlights on that album*) and sparse vocals. Into this rhythmic march is added a bit of violin. For the second verse, the percussion becomes militaristic, the keyboards take over the plucked sound in a bubblier fashion (along with occasional piano like elements), and things become much denser. It's these bubbly keys that take the lead solo, though some rough and raw guitar sits just behind; it's like a chirpier take on Emerson via an 80s-era Who filter (something like "Who Are You"). Of course, violin remains a key element through out and it is what becomes prominent under the vocals as the tracks comes to a close.

Now, that isn't to say that the rest of the album is not worthy of comment; it is, and each of the tracks that follow is striking as well. I just think the band really hit their stride on the three mentioned above, and then carry over elements of them into the latter tracks. The actual writing/recording order, I don't know. If they came last, then we can say these are distillations of elements found elsewhere.

So, what else is on offer? Here's a quick(ish) tour (not in order of appearance necessarily, but as I noted thoughts about):

"Memories" draws both the pastoral and energetic together, the latter almost reaching metal-like intensity. It doesn't quite get full blown, settling for a suitably heavy prog gear with an occasional instrumental growl. And, like the romantic pieces elsewhere, vocals soar. Like the best neo-prog this track enters epic territory.

"You & Me" is a mellow, pastoral piano-violin-vocals based piece, though we do get first a muted guitar solo and then a signature soaring solo a quarter of the way through?

"Danny Had A Neighbour" is an odd song, more in subject matter than in arrangements -- it's more percussive and punchy than elsewhere on the album, though there are elements that recall the demonic aspects of "Tumor." Subject-wise? it'd make for a plot of a horror film (if I interpret the lyrics correctly)? not necessarily a good horror film, though the song itself is alright.

"Unfaithful" is the "anti-romantic" song ? and in this case both in the popular sense and in the musical sense. Lines are often spat out and rather than this being the "I love you" song, it's more "I'm cheating and you don't it?" Perhaps not a new sentiment, but it comes right after "Memories" (which ends with this thought: "I am lonely / All in my memories / Longing only /For you"? ) and before "Together" (which begins "One day you will know me better / One day you will trust me and believe me?").

By the way, I know I said forget about Marillion, but one can't help but think of the cheery, acoustic "Together" as this album's "Made Again." Of course, the bit of spoken word poetry that concludes the short piece made me think of the Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin" -- talk about a romantic piece -- although "Together" doesn't have the same sort of memorable lines, but Różycki does have the right kind of cadence and resonance to his voice (if it's Różycki).

Let's go back to the first track again. I want to say, because I gave it short shrift to get to track two, that it is a good track, is not one that dents the quality of the album in the slightest, and is above the material on the first album. It is punchy, has a searing guitar solo from Gil - the only one that I think the (overused) term searing can be applied to, and shows that Różycki does have a good (not great) voice that wasn't put to best use on Hope?. There really isn't a weak track here, per se. And if there were, it'd be "Danny?" not this one.

So, as I said at the outset, Yesterday Is A Friend is a stronger release from Believe. It matches what I'd have expected from Mirek Gil, given his past with Collage and a brief stint with Satellite. Yes, it's so far away from either of those two entities that Believe and Satellite couldn't play a double bill (and I'm sure Metal Mind have thought of it even if they haven't suggested it? yet -- or have the bands dismissed the idea. Well, with a new Satellite being launch soon as I write this, it's not so farfetched). At any rate, if I were going to recommend an album to you, of the two, this'd be the one.

Why not a 5 rating, you might ask? Well, I do find Różycki's voice a bit nasally and I can't really say this album is perfect? but near enough; because we can't give quarter points, you really should view this as a 4.75 even though it shows as 4.5.

Some final notes: In October 2008, while the band were touring with Pendragon, there was a line up change -- Karol Wróblewski became the band's new vocalist. You can hear samples of the band's music at their MySpace site.

*Heaven help me if I get that reference wrong , being the Marillo-fanatic that I have been? I?m doin' it from memory?

**In case anyone's really paying attention - yes, I used the word "troika" in both reviews to highlight what turns about to be roughly the same section of each album? funnily enough, I didn't know I had until I went back to my review of Hope??

Time (6:18) / Tumor (6:03) / What They Want (Is My Life) (8:01) / Mystery Is Closer (6:00) / You & Me (4:51) / Danny Had A Neighbour (5:17) / Memories (7:22) / Unfaithful (6:14) / Together (2:35)

Tomek R?życki - vocals, acoustic guitar
Satomi - violin
Mirek Gil - guitars
Przemas Zwadski - bass
Vlodi Tafel - drums, percussion
Robert Sieradzki - lyrics


Adam Milosz - keyboards
Winicjusz Chr?st - guitar solo (3)
Karol Wr?blewski - flute

Hope To See Another Day (2006)
Yesterday Is A Friend (2008)
This Bread Is Mine (2009)

Hope To See Another Day Live (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin PL

Added: December 30th 2008
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2260
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]