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Beautiful Bedlam
(2021 - self release - Australia)

Tight and polished like The Police/Rush/Gentle Giant with the bold progressive time changes and twists of not just those same bands, but wonderful expansions of The Mercury Tree, Porcupine Tree, Maneige, Ethos,  and various other eclectic adventurous bands. Several styles are infused including metal, jazz, alt rock, art rock, and of course a heavy dose of progressive (as has already been stated). A few slices of electronica, psychedelic, goth, and pop are also part of the charm of this many framed platter. As a debut recording, this group is instantly impressive and sounds far mature past it's years at this point. Wonderful smooth vocals, sometimes multi-stacked the way fans love Gentle Giant's method. Highly melodic, creative, and addictive upon first listen. To add to the many dimensions the band have Xen Havales on lead vocals on track #2 ('Breather'), which I hope they use again on future releases.

From Melbourne, Australia, this four piece outfit consists of brothers Luke Ancell – Guitars/ Scott Ancell – Drums & Programming/ with Ross Taylor – Keyboards & Vocals/ and James Van Strien – Bass & Vocals.Additional musicians: Lead vocals: Xen Havales (Breather), Paul Cooper (Black World), Markus Saastamoinen (I Adore), Richard Jeffrey (Sweet Oblivion), Michael Minehan (Silent To The End), Matt Belleville (Pigment) Backing vocals: Leah Hannah (Black World, Sweet Oblivion), Scott Ancell (Open World), Guitar: Scott Ancell (Two Thirds), and Shane Lieber (Dog’s Breakfast).

For music lovers who are drawn to kitchen sink inventive releases (raising my hand), this is highly suggested to those. The plus is how well it is done, and sophisticated, with both the compositions and arrangements of such, are superb. There was great care in making this album. Listeners will hear that without a doubt. Some of the moments take me back to classic early 70's greats as far as the nicely done lead vocals, even in the midst of a more metal guitar surrounded track. There the vocals are sometimes as clear and pure as if they were from one of the leads from The Association, or The Hollies, and the like. An example is 'Open World + Apparitions' (track #7). Wonderful!  And one cannot leave out mention of the 1960's groove and quasi carnival atmospheric oddity 'Dog's Breakfast' (track #9) that also has a touch of The Who in it. Beautiful Bedlam can rock it out like all the more aggressive bands as well, with that unique balance the best grunge such as Nirvana had, but the sweetness of this Aussie outfit is they bring the mellow vocals in and charm your ears so pleasantly. Just when I say that, they follow with Michael Minehan guesting as lead vocalist on 'Silent To The End' (track #11) with the most grunge/death metal cut on the album. Perhaps the listener needed to kicked out of their comfort, but it is not a bad listen. Just part of the big feast of sounds this band packs in one release. And to keep you there in this more aggressive atmosphere, the next and last song is much the same with Matt Belleville doing the guest vocals on 'Pigment'. The one difference is half way through, they do an about face bridge, then move into a Rocky Horror Picture show goth part, and lots more thrown into the punch. What a way to end the album. This is Beautiful Bedlam letting you know they are many things, but never afraid of a couple of power chord songs with devilish vocals, to keep the contrast (which should be the main adjective for this fine group) alive and well.

  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 2 - 1 - 2022

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