1974 – 1974 & The Death Of The Herald (2013)
1974 is five piece band from Connecticut, USA that conjures up the memories and sounds of classic stadium rock acts from the seventies / eighties such as Kansas, Rush, Yes, early Magnum and more. “1974 & The Death Of The Herald” is their second album and I can see why the band won at the recent CT Grand Band Slam awards.
1974 music is progressive rock, this meaning not only proggy sounding, their style also includes powerful guitar driven riffs, elaborated vocal harmonies and strong melodies on songs mostly clocking around the 4 minute mark. So “1974 & The Death Of The Herald” is not specifically a prog rock album.
The group comprises Mike Forgette on guitar and lead vocals, Tim Moore on drums, Gary Dionne on bass; Adam Clymer on guitar and Angela Piccoli on keys. Tim, Gary and Angela all have their moments at the mic as main singers, but when they come together to create the band’s harmonies, that is truly the ‘sound’ of 1974 and you are sucked into the world they have crafted for you.
The CD begins with “The Great Galactic War”, an introduction to the tone of the record, with fantastic harmonies and very sinister riffs. It’s an immediate song that brings you right into the concept story, which then seamlessly transitions into the acoustic strumming of “Phantoms” which sustains its pace with excellent drumming.
“Herald of Life” begins with a gorgeous arpeggio on piano in 6/4 time before the band come together with lovely, lush harmonies. “Building An Empire” then explodes into frame without even a second of pause. It blisters with dual-guitar lead harmonies and a blazing saxophone solo from Connecticut’s Isaac Young. Of note are the key changes underneath Young’s solo, which personifies the record itself.
We are shifted into “Essential Arms” which might be the perfect song on the album to achieve a cross-over success: it’s so radio-catchy it hurts. It begins with chords played through a sitar pedal and heads straight into a very uptempo snare pattern, giving the song such muscular vigor. At the chorus, Moore sings ‘the time is now’ as the rest of the band chimes in with harmonies that make you sing right along with them, as infectious a moment as there is on this album. Instead of hitting a traditional bridge-solo-chorus to end the song, we get just the solo after the second verse, and end on that sitar, bringing the song full-circle.
“A New Beginning” is the more jumping song of the lot, with foot-tapping bass lines from Dionne. During the breakdown, the gets busy on the instrumentation. Sung by the powerhouse female vocals of Piccoli, “Vera” is is easily the catchiest song after ‘Essential Arms’, almost a seventies melodic rocker with vintage keyboards all over.
“Admiral Tackett” introduces bassist Gary Dionne on a bluesy lead vocal as the titular character. It begins with a riff and slide guitar that can only be described as grimy, naughty. It’s absolutely one of the highlights on the record. As is the shift to what could be construed as the chorus, with Forgette singing in his best falsetto, with wistful urgency.
“A Dark Thought” is a prog excursion to the English old-school, very melodic, again combining shared lead vocals. “Abduction” follows, with continued dual-guitar solos stretching into the grey oblivion in the lyrics, recalling Canadians Rush.
“Ultimatum” rollicks along, with a vocal-duel between the characters sung by Dionne and Moore. It works really well because the battle between the two fits into the verses and choruses. Nothing is trite, or forced, all flows in great synchronicity.
Ending the album is the title track “The Death of the Herald”, by all accounts, the epic piece of the record and one of my favorites. It is a true suite that encompasses everything you would expect from an album / story-closer of a sci-fi prog-rock record. It begins with the band singing in harmony, then moves to its prog-zenith aspirations: heavy bass and guitar, organ, active drums. It’s a breathtaking moment of grandiose design while managing to avoid any pretense.
“1974 & The Death Of The Herald” is a progressive rock album that can easily can be enjoyed with the random key of you player ‘on’ as there’s a song format on most of the tracks, but as it tells a story, I recommend to heard it from start to finish.
You have odd time signatures, vast tempo changes and flourishes all over in true prog fashion, but the difference between 1974 and the other bands of the genre is in the voices. Four different singers, all gifted, always catchy.
Released at the end of last year by themselves and very well produced, “1974 & The Death Of The Herald” is a really good album with so much guitar balanced with so many sing-a-long moments that will find you humming the melodies endlessly.
01 – The Great Galactic War
02 – Phantoms
03 – Herald Of Life
04 – Building An Empire
05 – Essential Arms
06 – A New Beginning
07 – Vera
08 – Admiral Tackett
09 – The United Earthlands’ Assembly
10 – A Dark Thought
11 – Abduction
12 – Ultimatum
13 – Death Of The Herald
Mike Forgette – Guitars, Lead & Backing Vocals
Tim Moore – Drums, Lead & Backing Vocals
Gary Dionne – Bass, Lead & Backing Vocals
Adam Clymer – Guitars
Angela Piccoli – Keyboards, Lead & Backing Vocals
BUY IT !