4.5 out of 5 Stars!
Back in 2014, this release came as a terrific surprise. I originally listened to The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1) based only on the fact that Stewart Bell is a member of Citizen Cain, a better-than-average Progressive Rock band with a sound reminiscent of classic Genesis. But then the vocals came in immediately, and I instantly recognized the voice of singer Simone Rossetti (from the excellent Genesis-clone band The Watch) who (thankfully) pretty much dominates the album when it comes to the vocals, even though a few other singers appear throughout. Well, that sold me!
What we have here is a highly Symphonic/Neo-Prog album with four out of seven songs clocking in at more than ten minutes, and each of the three remaining tracks surpassing five minutes, thus allowing the musicians the freedom to stretch their musical muscles, exploring the boundaries of their instruments within some tracks with complicated arrangements and superb production quality. In many ways, this could have been another album from The Watch, but with some differences. Certainly the “Genesis sound” (or “The Watch sound”) is present, thanks to Rossetti’s voice, but Genesis and The Watch, for all of the typical musical complexity, are rather “bare bones” when it comes to the overall production of their songs. What makes this album different from those bands is the dense production. Not to say anything is muddied or too cluttered, but simply fuller, richer, more orchestrated—more than just the basic guitar / keyboard / rhythm section (plus the occasional flute) of Genesis or The Watch. I mean, when was the last time you heard female backing vocals on any track by Gabriel-era Genesis? Or “heavy progressive” guitar solos or slamming bass lines? That’s where the main difference lies. So imagine Genesis meets Threshold or Dream Theater, and that’s what you have here.
Nevertheless, for any fans of the aforementioned bands, The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1) is an album you will likely want to experience. If you love the thought of a heavier Genesis or The Watch or Citizen Cain, one with some beefy guitar chords and frantic solos, thick keyboard atmospheres and outrageously bracing synth leads, extreme mood shifts and varied rhythm changes, along with dramatic vocal performances (all this within “Decoherence,” the five-part opening track alone!) and some “progressive bizarreness” thrown in for fun on several additional tunes, then grab a copy of this album as soon as possible. You can tell a ton of blood, sweat, and (perhaps) tears (and definitely a great deal of “heart”) went into the making of this album, so savor it. It’s a Prog-lover’s dream come true, and thankfully, Bell followed up in 2017 with “Part 2,” so the dream continues.