Active Heed – Higher Dimensions

Active Heed - Higher Dimensions

Band with varying line-up (only the vocalist, Per Fredrik Åsly, aka PelleK, is left from the recording sessions of the first album, published in 2013), Active Heed is the brainchild of Umberto Pagnini, a big fan of progressive rock, who writes the lyrics and the music, without being involved himself in the performance. In order to make his compositions come true on ‘Higher dimensions’, he asked a bunch of experienced musicians to lend him a hand: Cristiano Roversi (Moongarden, Mangalla Vallis) on keyboards and bass, but also in charge of arrangements, Gian Maria Roveda (Moongarden, Mangalla Vallis) on drums and Mirco Ravenoldi (Catafalchi del Cyber) on guitar.

With vintage keyboards, Hammond organ, ubiquitous mellotrons, pastoral passages brought by a luminous acoustic guitar or an enchanting flute (“Ternary level one”), aerial guitars and hesitating drums (Genesis’ “Apocalypse in 9/8″ often springs to mind), Active Heed’s music, while accessible, doesn’t hide its progressive influences. Besides, the young vocalist steming from the world of metal music, this other influence can be witnessed in passages lead by roaring guitars on one hand, surprisingly akin to to thrash metal (the versatile “The war of tempos”, “The number of God”, “No speed limit”, and “Not left and not taken”) and in rhythm accelerations on the other hand. The metal leanings are nonetheless far less obvious in the low-pitched and theatrical voice (quite close to Michael Sadler) that can switch from melancholy to enthusiasm, always in a moderate way, far from the eccentricities of our singer’s beloved musical genre. This humble attitude could be perceived by some listeners as a lack of dynamism, but in the end it fits quite well the overall atmosphere. Moreover, the melancholy that soars from PelleK’s voice is not a brake to melodic arrangements. In fact, even if we are standing on a complex ground, our ears are caressed in permanence by melodic winds, borne as much by whirling synths and aerial guitars, as catchy and passionate choruses.

When the first Active Heed album got released, it divided reviewers, many of them regretting that the pop side was brought too much forward. With ‘Higher dimensions’, Umberto Pagnini seems to have taken into account the criticisms and prog elements abound this time, yet, much to our delight, they are there only to provide more depth to the melodic purpose of a band that stays far from any flashy showing-off. The only complaint I have is with the brutal stop of some tracks (“The war of tempos”, “A little bit expired”, “The numbers of God”, “Crop squares” and “A pet called prime”).

Tracklist:

1 The War Of Tempos

2 Far Escape

3 A Little Bit Expired

4 Gaps In Time

5 Multiple Replies

6 The Numbers Of God

7 Crop Squares

8 A Pet Called Prime

9 No Speed Limit

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