4 out of 5 Stars!
After The Fall was a talented quartet from Connecticut that released five studio albums between 1988 and 2006, with Knowledge being the band’s final offering.
The album includes one short track—the gentle ballad “Between Images, Flesh and Shadows”—as well as two medium-length tunes—the atmospheric and acoustic-guitar-based “The Call,” plus the rambunctious and curiously named tongue-twister “Precariously Poised on the Precipice of Pandemonium,” performed partly in a 6/8 time signature and including some Gentle Giant-ish vocal harmonies.
And then, for the delight of Prog-Rock fans everywhere, the album also features three gigantic epics, each just above or below the twenty-minute mark and crammed with numerous time signatures and intricate solos, along with a smorgasbord of keyboard sounds, guitar tones, and varied moods.
For instance, on the ambitious album opener “Came the Healer,” the band displays a seemingly endless conglomeration of influences, some from more popular Prog-Rock bands such as Saga, Yes, Spock’s Beard, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, while at other points within the intricate composition I’m occasionally reminded of lesser-known acts such as Salem Hill, Glass Hammer, Cairo, Galahad, and Abel Ganz, to name but a few.
The same can be said for “Motherland,” another industrious affair similar to the depth and breadth of the aforementioned epic when it comes to the influences on display as well as the elaborate orchestration. Here, also, the keyboardist adds some all-too-sparse Mellotron accompaniment to back up his wild “Emerson-esque” synth and Hammond leads, adding even more dimensions to the band’s occasionally bombastic sound.
The final tune, however, is my favorite. “Ode to Man,” contains one of the album’s most beautiful vocal melodies and chord patterns in its opening acoustic-driven section, then the rest of the band sweeps in with syncopated rhythms and accents accompanying complex instrumentation that brings to mind the group Kansas with more hints of Gentle Giant. I’m also reminded of Starcastle, thanks to the highly melodic bass riffs. Throughout the remainder of the epic, additional moods abound, with numerous passages being reminiscent of countless other acts, depending mostly on the endless array of synth and keyboard sounds or guitar tones. And finally, the song closes with a reprise of the dreamy opening passage, the perfect ending to my favorite tune.
In short, After The Fall was an enterprising lot, the musicians seemingly determined to toy with diverse instrumentation and scoring, often shooting for the moon and, for the most part, hitting their intended bull’s-eyes. I’m unsure what became of this talented group, what caused the band to break apart or what became of its various members, but it’s a shame the group didn’t continue for many more years in order to release more entertaining albums such as this.