The Anabasis – Back From Being Gone

If progressive rock is about being ambitious, it’s basically a granted fact that bands have to continuously up the ante in order to impress potential listeners. The Anabasis’ highly collaborative nature should be enough to intrigue some listeners, and the fact that their recorded debut takes the form of a massive multi-epic work probably doesn’t hurt either. Being a lover of history, I was obviously all the more excited when I heard that ‘Back From Being Gone’ was a concept album detailing historical events. In other words, there is good reason for the hype surrounding this new project, and while I haven’t found it to be as musically impressive as I was first hoping it would be, The Anabasis could never be accused or not shooting for the stars. Regardless, the debut of this band ultimately feels heavy on polish, but regrettably light on innovation.

As I had been rightfully led to believe through the hype, The Anabasis form their sound around the neo-prog formula. The music is never excessively complex, instead leaving the musicianship to brooding guitar solos and leads. Guitars are the most impressive aspect of The Anabasis’ delivery, but- as one would expect from this brand of prog- keyboards are highly prevalent as well. There is never a definitive sound to any of the instruments however, evidently because the instruments are tossed around by several musicians. Spock’s Beard keyboardist Ryo Okumoto is arguably the most distinguished member of this act, although the bands Relocator and Halycon also share ties with this project, among others. Despite this great sense of near-orchestral collaboration, The Anabasis’ sound generally reverts to the sort of key-laden melodic rock that’s heard a lot in prog nowadays. Musically speaking, these musicians execute it well- with particular recognition given to vocalist Per Fredrik Åsly- but there’s little here that highlights this band, at least from a performance perspective.

‘Back From Being Gone’s boldest claim is that it sports not one, or two, but three sprawling epics. Add on three more conventionally lengthed pieces, and you have a near-eighty minute long monster of an album. Each epic piece is given a one word title that generally indicates what historical topic it’s going to tackle. Lyrically, the words are pleasant and tastefully recount the historical issues at hand. A slight exception to this would be during the ‘Viking’ track, in which the music is more or less put on hold for a spoken word lesson, where the speaker describes the rise of Viking raiders and aggression. Although the educational element works in the band’s favour, it would have helped to have delivered it in a more musical format. Fortunately, these moments are exceptions, although it’s enough of a misstep to affect my view of what the band has done here.

‘Back From Being Gone’ is sure to appeal to listeners hungry for a more ambitious-than- usual slice of neo-prog, but as I stand, I am left wishing that the great potential here was realized a little more thoroughly. The composition and musicianship of The Anabasis are both good, but never achieve excellence. While it would be an accomplishment for lesser musicians, the fact that The Anabasis is confident enough to take on such a large project indicates to me that, despite the existing quality, things could have been a little better.


1. Rome (14:15)
- a. Prologue
- b. Back To The Future (Part 1)
- c. The Sands Of Time (Part 1)
- d. The Final Word
- e. Playing With Fire
2. Fly (6:50)
3. Carpe Diem (5:47)
4. Vikings (17:28)
- a. Lindisfarne Abbey 793AD
- b. Mercia 877AD
- c. Along The Fjords
- d. A Price To Pray
5. Epiphany (5:56)
6. Egypt (23:52)
- a. The Sands Of Time
- b. The End And The Beginning
- c. Along The Nile
- d. Back To The Future
- e. The Sands Of Time (Reprise)


* Barry Thompson – guitar, bass, keyboards
* George Andrade – lyrics, arrangements
* Per Fredrik ‘PelleK’ Åsly – lead vocals
* Ryo Okumoto – keyboards
* Gerald Mulligan – drums
* Gordon ‘Mully’ Tittsworth – lead & backing vocals
* Lee Abraham – bass

guest musicians:
* Stefan Artwin – guitar
* Christopher James Harrison – guitar
* Jeroen Hendrix – keyboards (3)
* Brian Hong – violin
* Plini – guitar
* Josh Sager – guitar, arrangements
* Brick Williams – guitar


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