Advent – Cantus Firmus (2006)

Advent_CantusFirmus4 out of 5 Stars!

OMG! Gentle Giant lives…err, well, not exactly, but Advent comes darned close in recreating that unique sound and style, albeit an updated version.

Indeed, New Jersey’s Advent is probably one of the finest Gentle Giant imitators to have ever existed—just listen to the opening track “GK Contramundum” on the band’s Cantus Firmus album and you may think you’ve discovered a missing track off GG’s Octopus or Free Hand albums. The a cappella vocal arrangements are breathtakingly similar to GG’s, both in complexity and sound, and the guitars and keyboards throughout the rest of the album have GG tones as well, yet with modernized synths and grander production qualities adding extra flavor, such as on the complex instrumental “Awaiting the Call.”

Moreover, on the ethereal “Parenting Parents,” the lead singer even does a stunning impression of GG’s Kerry Minnear’s mellow voice, while some of those intricate background vocals again pop up, along with a few minstrel-esque instrumental bits GG was so fond of using, but again, all wrapped up in modern-day synth washes.

The remaining tracks on Cantus Firmus include mostly similar fare, but with the occasional mandolins, recorders, violins, etc. also making brief appearances. And “Ramblin’ Sailor,” the album’s pièce de résistance, is more than eighteen full minutes of complex, Giant-like madness and often breathtakingly beautiful.

A few years ago, just when I thought it was too bad that Advent seemed to have disappeared since releasing Cantus Firmus, the band’s second album, in 2006, Advent suddenly popped up again in 2015 with a brand new album called Silent Sentinel. For nearly a decade I’d desperately hoped for more material from Advent, so miracles do indeed happen!

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