ZONDER / WEHRKAMP – If It’s Real (2019)
ZONDER / WEHRKAMP, the new band featuring drummer Mark Zonder and guitarist / keyboardist Gary Wehrkamp, has just released its debut album, “If It’s Real”.
Both long known for their work in the metal and progressive scenes – Zonder with Graham Bonnet / Fates Warning / Spirits Of Fire, and Wehrkamp with Shadow Gallery / Ayreon – in this project these talented musicians explore other genres, ranging from melodic, emotional prog rock to some hard rock and even rock&pop.
“If It’s Real”, as well, has a lot to discover, from arrangements to melody and lyrics.
Songs like ‘It’s Not The End’ or ‘I Can’t Believe’ are sheer raw emotion with top notch musicianship, meaning dramatic keyboard – piano passages and melodies, smooth vocals, elaborated guitar work and interesting stories.
Title track is the most ‘progressive’ on the CD, and one of the highlights. It creates atmospheres, there’s great cinematic passages and some mystery in the lyrics. The guitar solo is intense, and crystal clear.
If you need more punch, ‘Two Years’ rocks with heavier riffs and a hard rock groove, then ‘Too Late’ has a busy yet always melodic instrumentation bringing to mind Shadow Gallery, plus a great guitar solo.
‘Where are the Children Going’ is a power ballad where the sweet vocals get the spotlight, and the thought provoking lyrics about society’s dark future.
Speaking about the vocals, the duo was searching for a singer to perform these songs, but at the end Wehrkamp decided to handle all. Glad he did it. He’s a serious vocalist, plenty of textures.
“If It’s Real” is very melodic album and flows easily, however I recommend to pay attention to its lyrics, and of course, the detailed arrangements. Very, very strong songs, emotional, captivating all the way, and top notch recorded / produced.
01 – I Can’t Believe
02 – If It’s Real
03 – I’d Do Anything
04 – Last Place
05 – Two Years
06 – Where Are the Children Going?
07 – Too Late
08 – The Next Big Thing
09 – It’s Not the End
10 – Goodnight
Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery, Ayreon) – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Mark Zonder (Fates Warning) – Drums, Percussion
BUY IT !