Airbag – All Rights Removed

Although there is a vast range of sounds, styles, and sub-styles, I think I can reasonably divide prog into two major schools; one that appeals to the mind, and one that appeals to the heart. Cue Rush’s ‘Hemispheres’ reference. Of course, it’s virtually impossible to have only one of the two, but most bands lean towards one of those more than the other. In the case of Airbag, they are firmly rooted in emotion. Although performed and produced excellently, there is very little display of technical wizardry, nor are there the sort of complex structures that one may come to expect from progressive rock proper. Although the music on ‘All Rights Removed’ is conveyed through longer songs, it’s a journey dominated by atmosphere and melody over anything else. Without setting toes into the cheesy anthem territory of AOR, Airbag’s second album is among the most emotionally stirring albums of last year.

The style of ‘shoegaze’ (which proggers may be familiar with through Alcest or Slowdive) and the post-punk melancholy of The Cure are both players in the style of Airbag. I would not say that ‘All Rights Removed’ feels, well, ‘removed’ from a lot of melodic prog archetypes, but they do a much better job of sounding sincere and atmospheric than most ‘neo-prog’ acts I’ve heard. Best demonstrated through the abundant bluesy guitar work on the album is the influence of Pink Floyd. I have said that Airbag values melody and emotion over complex compositions, but there is the much-longed for sense of ‘epic’ in ‘All Rights Removed.’ Although one might not get the impression from the track listing (which explicitly cites the last song as a standalone epic), the album seems to run as a fifty minute piece of music. In fact, the music itself gives little indication that any of these songs stand on their own. For instance, the central melody of the opener title track segues into ‘White Walls.’ It’s aspects like this that puts Airbag on the radar.

The music is not much varied or surprising, but it matters little when the album benefits from such a charged flow. Airbag lean towards a mid-pace melancholia, led forth by the Hogarth-era Marillion-like vocals of Asle Torstrup. Some proggers may find that ‘All Rights Removed’ does not fulfil the quota of notes that need to be played per minute in order to be considered real prog. This is meant to be taken as facetious of course, but this degree of lax atmosphere and melancholic, melodic focus should not be dismissed. Airbag have really impressed me here, in short. Steering clear of the often cheesy 80′s kitsch that many bands of this sort fall into, there is a great deal to admire with this band’s second album.


1. All Rights Removed (8:59)
2. White Walls (5:19)
3. The Bridge (6:20)
4. Never Coming Home (9:00)
5. Light Them All Up (3:01)
6. Homesick I-III (17:21)


* Anders Hovden – bass
* Asle Torstrup – vocals, programming, keyboards
* Bjørn Riis – guitars, vocals, keyboards
* Henrik Fossum – drums
* Jørgen Hagen – keyboards, programming


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