Citizen Cain - Serpents In Camouflage

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 064
Format: CD
Total Time: 70:53:00

Certainly a wonderful title for an album don't you think? But also the music is of a superb quality, especially for people who like a good mixture of Genesis and Marillion. It's eerie to hear how close singer Scott gets towards the 'vintage' Peter Gabriel, especially by adding that right amount of hoarse approach that was so typical in the early days of Genesis. Add to this the arrangements and keyboard passages, which both get very close to Tony Banks, and you get the picture! Nice long tracks yet Citizen Cain tries to include too many lyrics in their songs, they want to tell stories that last too long, which is a pity as it blocks the diversity we are longing for.

Released in 1993 by the now defunct SI label through their sublabel Silly Insects (SImply 27), Cyclops picked up this release in their re-release schedule and added two bonus tracks, one of which is a live demo of the opening track "Stab In The Back," a song that also holds some of the more aggressive sounding Hackett licks. That same guitar becomes very "freaky" during the uptempo part in "Liquid Kings," which once again holds many Tony Banks references. If you know the history of Scottish band Citizen Cain then you certainly know the band encountered a lot of difficulties, especially where drummers are concerned [A la Spinal Tap? -ed], hence the fact that a drum machine has been used all over this album, a mechanical device I loathe enormously, as progressive rock has to come from deep within and there is no machine in the world which holds the same warmth and expression even if it's well programmed! In the case of Citizen Cain, it is well programmed, but still lacks the energy, dynamism and live feel of a real drummer.

The acoustic guitar which pops up halfway through "Harmless Criminal" comes very close to the atmosphere in "Musical Box." I also note a superb synth solo towards the end of the song. As already stated, the lyrics are way too long, thus preventing the music to really contain long solos. Luckily this slightly changes in "Dance Of The Unicorn," where nice flute playing is introduced next to a guitar sound which reminds us of the best Mike Holmes (IQ) output . Both bonus tracks contain the drumming of Chris Colvin and you can clearly hear that the entire sound benefits from his input, as the end result sounds much more dynamic.

If only Genesis had known Cyrus before they took on Ray Wilson. It certainly would have been the right move and there would no longer have been a vacant stool for Phil Collins, whilst the Genesis music would have been steered in the right direction from day one, back to the Gabriel period, a period where REAL music was still reigning! One critic once described this album as Selling England For A Jester's Tear ? I couldn't have put it any better!

Stab In The Back (6:49) / Liquid Kings (11:25) / Harmless Criminal (10:29) / The Gathering (11:05) / Dance Of The Unicorn (6:27) / Serpents In Camouflage (13:23) Bonus tracks on reissue: Nightlights - As The Wheel Turns (4:06) / Stab In The Back (Live Demo) (7:06)

Stewart Bell - keyboards
Frank Kennedy - guitars
David Elam - bass
George 'Cyrus' Scott - vocals
Chris Colvin - drums (7, 8)

Serpents In Camouflage (1993/98)
Somewhere But Yesterday (1994/97)
Ghost Dance (1996)
Raising The Stones (1998)
Playing Dead (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1619
Language: english


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