THE ROOM – Beyond The Gates Of Bedlam (2015)
Formed in London in 2010 by vocalist Martin Wilson and guitarist Steve Anderson, THE ROOM are about to release their second album “Beyond The Gates Of Bedlam” next week, and judging the quality on offer here, I am eager to find their debut as well.
The band define themselves (and I agree) as Melodic Rock blended with Prog, resulting in a Crossover Prog or Neo-Prog outfit, leaning more to the Melodic Rock territory.
The Room’s sound well think of a mix that includes the haunting strains and vocals of Saga, the English sensibilities of early Marillion and the passion of IQ topped off with AOR overlay of Magnum and you just about have it.
“Beyond The Gates Of Bedlam” starts with the really commercial ‘Carrie’, certainly more AORish than Prog driven by very nice guitars and great keyboard backgrounds / solo parts, ending into a compelling chorus. It takes a bit to catch Wilson’s vocals but they are truly original for sure.
‘Full Circle’ then starts with a hum in the background and a vocal out on its own. It feels like some Neo Prog is going to start but it soon slips into a soft rocker akin Saga. At times the vocal feels like it is going to drop out of control and I’m sure that’s just emotion.
That’s quite a lot on just two tracks and that’s because there is something at the heart of The Room that I really like.
Continuing the album on the same level of quality are the following tracks: ‘My Friend Jack’ very much in the early Marillion / Fish, the mid-tempo melodic rocker ‘She Smiles’, and the breezy AOR of ‘The Book’, which in the middle adds a dramatic part.
‘As Crazy As It Seems’ is a personal statement in the sense it’s a song inspired by a long standing friend of the band Hughie McMillan but it’s also a song about friendship in general. Musically it’s the melodic ballad of the album, a song inspired by early ’80s radio.
‘Masquerade’ is also slower yet not a ballad, and one of the most progressive (light prog) songs on the CD, with a beautiful, calm guitar solo.
Then ‘Splinter’ returns to melodic rock with keyboards to the fore (love that analog-like synths) again in the Saga vein and it’s easily one of my favorites on the album.
‘She Smiles’ finds the band doing what they do best; pitched somewhere between Marillion and IQ, reverberating with melodic rock guitars and some rocking nerve in the lead vocals, the track rocks but at the same time delivers some clever proggy arrangements. All very melodic and almost catchy.
Surprisingly, final cut ‘Bedlam’ rocks even harder. I was expecting a proggy ballad as finale, however The Room delivers a pumping melodic rocker, the most guitar driven of the record. And one of the best.
The Room is one of the surprises of the year for me. Their second album “Beyond The Gates Of Bedlam” blends Melodic Rock with Prog elements in a successful amalgam to appeal a wide audience.
All songs are strong and balanced with the necessary ‘proggy’ touch but the focus here is to rock the listener. Throughout the album musicianship soar, production is really good and all is a melodic delight to the ear.
01 – Carrie
02 – Full Circle
03 – My Friend Jack
04 – As Crazy As It Seems
05 – She Smiles
06 – The Book
07 – Masquerade
08 – Splinter
09 – The Hunter
10 – Bedlam
Steve Anderson – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Steve Checkley – keyboards and backing vocals
Andy Rowe – bass guitar and backing vocals
Martin Wilson – lead vocals
Chris York – drums, percussion and vocals