AETHELLIS – NorthUmbria (2012)
Ellsworth Hall is the brain behind the Neo Prog project AETHELLIS and his trademark sound are the keyboards, lots of keyboards, as is heard on the second album “NorthUmbria”.
Listening to Aethellis brings me back about 25 years. Even though at times, some twists and turns make it obvious that this album is from the new millennium, there is always a strong early 80’s feel about this music.
Tagged a Neo Prog, in my opinion Aethellis style is eighties proggy AOR, with diverse influences ranging from Camel, ELP, Genesis and Tony Banks solo albums, but also a strong Pomp feel in the vein of Shooting Star, Saga, Asia and The Alan Parsons Project.
Ellsworth Hall is an amazing multi-instrumentalist and a good vocalist. As singer, he can be compared to the likes of Greg Lake, Steve Hackett and why not, John Wetton. Musically most of his compositions are short with a classic format, although “NorthUmbria” features a couple of long numbers firmly planted into the classic prog tradition.
The Aethellis style is very melodic based and the keyboard is the main instrument in all songs, but all the instruments find its place in the rhythmic tracks of this album.
Whe have catchy tunes such as the pompy “Dire Need” or “Sounds Good”, a great light-prog ballad in “Without A Sound” (where Aethellis sounds like earlier eighties Alan Parsons) and really good instrumentals as the rock-funkish “Celui Qui Soit La Bosse” or the beautiful crafted “The Penal Colony”, where Camel comes to mind.
The more classic prog is represented on the two movements of “Northumbria / Mephisto Breeze” which features breezy harmony vocals and “The Peace Path” where the balladry fuses with a commercial Genesis light side.
“NorthUmbria” is a truly enjoyable album of 80’s inspired prog including really well crafted songs.
The melody is the rule here, really easy listening and catchy but still adventurous enough to keep you interested from start to finish. Mr. Hall has also put a lot of effort into the production, as despite this is an independent CD the is sound remarkably good.
Hopefully Aethellis will find it’s audience even though 80’s inspired light prog is not really the flavor of the day, but I’m sure that any fan of the era (including AOR aficionados) will adore “NorthUmbria”.
01 – Northumbria / Mephisto Breeze
02 – The Awakening
03 – Dire Need
04 – The Penal Colony
05 – Without A Sound
06 – Celui Qui Soit La Bosse
07 – Exchanger Prague
08 – The Peace Path
09 – Sounds Good
Ellsworth Hall (keyboards / vocals / guitar / synths)
Mark Van Natta (guitars / vocals)
Erik Marks (bass)
Chris Marks (guitar)
Joseph Dwyer (sax)
Mike Harrington (drums)
BUY IT !