Citizen Cain – Raising the Stones (1997)

CitizenCain _RaisingStones4 out of 5 Stars!

One of my favorite “discoveries” in the ’90s, Citizen Cain is a U.K. band that in many ways—and mostly due to George “Cyrus” Scott’s compelling and nuanced, Peter Gabriel-esque vocals—sounds like an updated, more theatrical version of Genesis (or perhaps Fish-era Marillion). Regardless, the band released some terrific material through the years, the last album in 2012 being just as complex and jaw-dropping as the debut album way back in 1993.

Raising the Stones (Citizen Cain’s fourth full-length studio release, counting the compilation Ghost Dance) is a brilliant, breathtaking, and often brooding piece of Progressive Rock, with both a handful of shorter songs as well as several epic, multi-segmented tracks such as “(Hells Greedy Children) Last Days of Cain,” “Bad Karma (Monsters And Men),” “Dreaming Makes the World (Medley),” and “Silently Seeking Euridice” that feature clever and cunning lyrics, dramatic and ominous undercurrents, and labyrinthine instrumentation.

While Stewart Bell’s symphonic synths weave in and out and around the vocal melodies and end up governing the sumptuous proceedings, varying tempos and grooves, Cyrus’s intricate bass runs, as well as a smattering of tasty guitar bits and bursts (from guest artist Andy Heatie), add to the thickly layered Neo-Prog beauty of the tunes and thrust the enjoyment factor off the scales.

And what makes Raising the Stones even more impressive in my eyes is the fact that, at this point in the band’s existence, Citizen Cain was down to only two full-time members (Cyrus and Bell)—that this duo faced the daunting task of writing, arranging, and performing all the intricate material apart from the guitar bits, is nothing short of a grand achievement.

Therefore, the gifted Stewart Bell and his partner Cyrus, along with their accomplished colleagues through the two decades of Citizen Cain’s complicated history, should be gleefully lauded by every Prog-Rock fan on the planet.

(And once again, Cyrus’s cover art is eye-catching and seductive, so an extra “bravo” to that talented gent.)

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Citizen Cain’s Stewart Bell – The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1) (2014)

StewartBell_Antechamber4.5 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.


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