It cannot be said that Twisted Illusion are a band to rest on their laurels. This is the band’s third album since their 2016 debut. Last year's ‘Insight To The Mind of a Million Faces’ - a double album no less - raised their profile enough to earn them a spot at Bloodstock and they’re back again now with Excite the Light part 1, the first instalment of a planned trilogy.
They truly are the world’s most prolific prog band. Oh, and vocalist, guitarist and driving force of the band Matt Jones is also releasing an acoustic album later this month too. If you’ve only just come across Twisted Illusion then you’ve already got some catching up to do.
Of course with such a prolific rate of output the worry is that the quality might drop but one listen to this album will disabuse you of that notion. Blasting off with the frenetic, fist pumping glory of the title track, complete with the kind of power metal chorus Dragonforce would kill for nowadays, the album grabs you instantly and then proceeds to enthral, surprise and enchant you over the course of its six startling tracks.
Excite the Light has an old-fashioned quality to it, not necessarily due to the musical style - although they race through the eras with as much reckless abandon as they run through the chromatic scales - but because of the way the album feels. It harkens back to an era of unfettered experimentation, when record label heads had no idea what people were listening to and would allow their artists the freedom to explore sounds as long as the money was coming in. Perhaps in this more independent era such artistic impulses can flourish again.
What’s so exciting about Twisted Illusion is how organic their experimentation feels, these aren’t mere exercises in technical excellence, they are ideas that have been nurtured and grown into a fully formed and diverse set of songs.
They avoid the pitfall that many a progressive band falls into in the effort to create a certain sound they neglect the individuality of each track and end up producing one homogeneous mass that struggles to keep your interest. Instead each song is distinct from the last, from the bombast of ‘High & Low’ to the more refined ‘Molly’s Smile’. And they keep you on your toes, just as you think they’ve got a song pinned down it writhes and twists, surprising you afresh.
Twisted Illusion don’t exactly stick to the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure, albeit that there are more recognisable choruses on Excite the Light than on previous albums, but each song has a unique hook that draws you in and makes each song instantly recognisable; a riff, a melody, a virtuoso bassline, there’s always something to keep your attention and each listen reveals a new detail you missed the first time around.
Not everyone will get it, it will be too intricate for some, too difficult to classify or too uncompromisingly grandiose, but those that do will find it immerses them completely, demanding to be played over and over, and as the final 13 minute, epic, sinister, wig out that is ‘Twisted Illusion’ fades out they’ll find themselves reaching immediately for the play button to do it all again. It is an addictive album with each track providing its own unique hit. Once it gets its hooks into you Excite the Light Part 1 is the sort of record that is capable of reducing even the most dispassionate of listeners into a babbling fanboy.
Twisted Illusion have created one of the finest albums of 2018, the only question left is can they maintain this quality on parts two and three? It’s going to be one hell of a ride finding out, though.
Excite the Light
High & Low
Molly’s Smile Revision 1
Matt Jones – Vocals/Guitars
Steve Revier – Guitars
Mark Wagstaff – Vocals/Bass
Matt McDade – Drums
Pledge for the album here: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/excitethelightpart1
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