TOUCHSTONE – Oceans Of Time (2013)
UK Progressive Rock five piece TOUCHSTONE have built up a very strong reputation over the past few years. Their last album (already presented at 0dayrox) was one of the best of 2011 in the genre for this staff.
Premiering new label, Touchstone are releasing opus number four, “Oceans Of Time”, produced again by John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena, John Wetton).
Touchstone’s style has developed in many ways since the early days, mixing the complexities of progressive rock with soaring keyboards and power-chords of melodic hard rock and prog metal.
They rock hard enough to appeal to metal audiences, but their music has more than enough atmospherics and dynamics to appeal to progressive rock fans. Touchstone are a band with feet in both camps without falling into the obvious clichés of them.
What I really like about this group is the elegant arrangements, the immaculate production and some spectacular instrumental pyrotechnics enriched by original sfx, all aspects even increased on “Oceans Of Time”.
Of course we have the velvety vocals of Kim Seviour who excels herself on this album, with the most expressive singing of her career so far. She brings a haunting, chilling quality to the slightly sinister “Solace”, whilst on the heavy numbers such as “Shadow’s End” she displays a range and power worthy of any Scandinavian Metal Siren.
The guitars of Adam Hodgson are more prominent than on the previous album, superbly accompanied by bassist Andre Moorghen and drum thumper Henry Rogers combining together to bring a powerful and intelligent foundation to the music.
The keyboards provided by band founder Rob Cottingham are also grand part of the band’s charm, conjuring up some startling and inventive sounds, backgrounds and some tasty, awesome intros & solos.
Opener “Flux”, with its modern prog-metal riffing starts out as quintessential Touchstone, although the middle section where the guitars drop out to be replaced by gospel-like vocal harmonies hints at what’s to come. “Contact” and “Tabula Rasa” reveal a much lighter – and dare I say more melodic rock / poppy orientated sound, stepping away from the wall of sound that characterised the previous album.
“Fragments” takes it even further, with a percussive new-wave style blended with a Middle Eastern feel quite unlike anything Touchstone have attempted before.
But it’s at the middle of the CD where this new album really turns brilliant.
“Spirit of the Age” has an epic approach, combining atmospheric moments with much heavier passages where the guitar scream, the drums smash and the monster synths draw some powerful melodies.
The aforementioned “Shadow’s End” is a highlight, a Crossover Prog piece with enchanting vocalizations by Kim, then in the half the song gets broken by in-and-out stabbing guitars and where Rob Cottingham takes the mic. The final part is really great, driven by a heavenly melody and keys / organs galore.
“Solace 2013” is a remake of a tune from the second album, a beautiful midtempo landscape rich on melodious guitars, lively rhythm section, vintage keys and an adorable vocal performance. It’s far superior than the already fine original take, having as it does a much fuller sound both in terms of production and musicianship.
“Through the Night” is the more neo-prog track of the album with verses build around a melody that surely will please melodic rock fans, and after the short instumental “Thunder & Crickets”, we have another highlight with title track “Oceans Of Time”. The keyboard pattern / sharp guitar riffs / dynamic bass & drums are awesome on this adventurous progressive composition balancing lighter moments with melodic and then heavier ones.
“Oceans Of Time” is a highly enjoyable, entertaining fourth album by a band that keeps evolving getting better and better, and hopefully will really expose Touchstone to a larger audience.
Combining lots of melody and crunch in their unique blend of progressive rock, this album will please progsters, hard rockers and even melodic rockers. Production is first class, crisp and clear.
If you never experienced Touchstone before, “Oceans Of Time” is an excellent start, Very Recommended by this blog.
01 – Flux
02 – Contact
03 – Tabula Rasa
04 – Fragments
05 – Spirit of the Age
06 – Shadow’s End
07 – Solace 2013
08 – Through the Night
09 – Thunder & Crickets
10 – Oceans of Time
Kim “Elkie” Seviour – Lead Vocals)
Rob Cottingham – Vocals, Keyboards & SFX
Adam Hodgson – Guitars & SFX
Andre P. Moorghen – Bass, Backing Vocals
Henry Rogers – Drums & Percussion
BUY IT !