Coralspin – Honey and Lava

Although my progressive listening journey has tended to veer towards more of the left-field and strange, it’s refreshing to hear a band that takes the sounds of my favourite genre, and structures them in such a way that makes it accessible and instantly enjoyable to hear. Coralspin’s “Honey and Lava” is perhaps a little tame for its own good, but listeners looking for some melody in their prog rock won’t find themselves disappointed with this promising band.

Coralspin have drawn some comparisons with Yes from other reviewers, although I’m more inclined to identify them as a cross between Rush’s more melodic output, and the more rocking material from Genesis’ ‘pop’ era. To call it a more guitar-driven incarnation of the neo-prog sound may also do well to describe where Coralspin are with “Honey and Lava”. Nothing they do is particularly outside-the-box or ‘weird’, but their varied approach to melodic prog rock can make them difficult to pinpoint. Although the guitar and rhythm section keep within a general AOR framework, the voice of Ellie Blyth and versatile keyboards give the album a more unpredictable edge.In what almost feels like an oddity in rock music, Coralspin employs the talents of two keyboards (Blyth and Blake McQueen) and only one guitar. Although Jake Simmons’ upbeat riffs are the meat and bones of what the band, the synthwork catches my ear the most. Although Coralspin’s core ‘rock’ sound changes little over the course of “Honey and Lava”, listeners can expect to hear McQueen and Blyth run the gamut from Baroque-style harpsichord textures to moog, ‘symphonic’ orchestration and the simple touch of the grand piano.

I agree wholeheartedly with other reviewers that Ellie’s voice will likely be the ‘love or hate’ element of Coralspin that will get people talking. She’s certainly a good singer, with a voice that treads halfway between a traditional female rock performance and the stark resonance of classical opera. Her voice has plenty of potential, and I do not hesitate to say that she could be excellent with a little more polish. As it stands, there are times here when I’m really impressed by her firm style and range, but she lacks consistency. The album’s opener and quasi-epic highlight “Sons of the Sleeping Giant” introduces her as a lower pitched, eerie voice that instantly reminded me of Grayceon’s Jackie Perez-Gratz. As the album goes on, her voice settles in a more comfortable high range. However, from song to song, the amount of passion seems to fluctuate. The Phil Collins-esque ballad “You’re Wrong” features some great vocals, whereas the album’s saccharine low-point “Songbird” is filled with notes that just don’t feel right, although the sappy love-lyrics don’t help matters.

The album starts off fairly strong in terms of songwriting, although it slowly becomes less interesting as it goes on. Fortunately, “Aching” is there to pick things up again, ending the album on a tender note. Coralspin’s sense of songwriting never feels particularly adventurous, but it’s usually quite well done. If anything, they certainly know how to incorporate the two keyboards into their sound. The album suffers from a fairly mechanical sense of production, but the studio weaknesses sound more a result of budget and experience rather than lack of effort. As I mentioned, “Sons of the Sleeping Giant” is the certain highlight, and it would be nice to hear Coralspin take this more progressive approach in future endeavours. “Honey and Lava” is not an album that typically fits my music taste, but there are some great melodies to be heard here. It’s far from a perfect or masterful album, but Coralspin have made their potential clear here; the only way to go is up.


1. Sons of the Sleeping Giant (6:58)
2. You’re Wrong (3:30)
3. Mistimed (3:54)
4. Burn My Eyes (4:00)
5. Sky’s End (4:12)
6. Songbird (3:19)
7. Night Stalker (5:14)
8. Aching (6:05)


* Ellie Blyth – vocals, keyboards
* Blake McQueen – keyboards
* Jake Simmons – guitars

* Steve Kightley – bass
* David English – drums


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: