Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Inner Road "Sanctuary"

Welcome back as always fellow progheads!  Last week was a great start to spring and the mood here in the Concert Closet continues to escalate along with the mercury.  This week the search for all things prog goes back across the pond--I remember when this was a regular rite of passage--for a visit with an old friend and to become deeply immersed in the sounds of The Inner Road and their latest release, "Sanctuary."



The Inner Road is but one of the many projects Steve Gresswell is involved with.  I know many of you will recall Steve from the prog band Coalition; apparently Mr. Gresswell needs to wear multiple hats and constantly multi-task to keep the creative prog juices flowing...

This week however, the spotlight is on The Inner Road and "Sanctuary" because this latest release is filled with some absolutely beautiful work.  Spending the last 168 hours--that's seven days to most normal people--listening to this album has been nothing short of a prog joyride...so let's head to the buffet and get this feast started...

The album opens with the title cut...church bells are but a quick lead to a strong orchestral cornucopia that spills over with extraordinary sounds that fill every nook and crevice in your cranium.  The tempo builds to what seems an inevitable crescendo--but instead of the explosive crash it simply continues to build.  The musicians seem to stand up and thump their collective chests as colors run down a canvas already be-speckled with slashes of neon light.  This is an opening as daring as taking driving lessons at the Indianapolis 500...be ready, alert, and prepared...because there's hardly time to take a breath...

Taking a stroll farther down the track list, I am once again battered about the auditory canals by a tune called "Temple of Forgiveness."  Inner Road has staked out a plot in the prog garden that needs full sun while radiating a heat that doesn't scorch so much as it melts away the periphery and burns right through to your soul.  The guitar on this piece is the salve that brings it all together while keyboards are the yeast that make this dough rise...

Liner Notes...The Inner Road is the brainchild of the aforementioned Steve Gresswell, who keeps residence in the UK.  The Inner Road is Steve's outlet for his instrumental prog musings, and Sanctuary is the third album released by this side of his alter-ego.  Despite playing keyboards, drums, bass guitar, orchestration, choir, and laying down some vocal tracks, Steve was not alone in putting this gem together.  Additional musicians are Ben Cameron on guitars and Bruno Pitch on chapman stick.

The Inner Road is ornate and boisterous--but in a good way.  The music is as full bodied as a bordeaux wine and satisfying as aloe after a day at the beach.  It ain't bragging if you back it
up; Steve does that and more.  The Inner Road pays homage to keyboards without doubt...think Jordan Rudess and Geoff Downes having an impromptu jam session while Rick Wakeman scores each round...

Yet The Inner Road spreads the exhilaration all around and fires on all cylinders.  Guitar work is strong, the orchestration is tight as Kardashian spandex, and the drums are a rock solid foundation to support the entire package. "Sanctuary" comes at you full force as soon as laser hits disc but does not leave you dazed. There are moments of introspection, pause, and even some emotional cleansing. The Inner Road goes deep and shines a light all the way down.  Learn more about The Inner Road and purchase the music at The Inner Road Bandcamp.  The band also has a Facebook page
The Inner Road FB and of course you can follow them on Twitter @innerroad.

The final serving from what is truly a bountiful harvest is a cut called "The Redeemer."  Another heavy-hitting piece that bursts with positive energy while crawling inside your thought process.  I don't think Steve is capable of drowning the listener in sorrow, but he also steers clear of sugar-coated gooeyness.  The up-and-down tempo pushes all the buttons on your mood elevator and as the car comes to an abrupt halt, you almost feel out of breath.

Alas; no sounds to lure you with this week...but if you make the purchase you can hear the entire album at your leisure.  Perhaps a photo of Steve laying down the magic will help entice you...



Well fellow progheads, another seven days in the prog garden has wound down, and the fruit of our labor was well worth the effort.  The Inner Road uses wide brush strokes to fill the canvas with elaborate, thought-provoking images using every color in the paint box...blending the brightest hues with darker, more subdued shades to create a piece stunning both from a visual and an auditory perspective.  "Sanctuary" brought forth a sense of being in a cathedral for a celebratory gathering;
grandiose in stature and splendid for its abundance.  The Inner Road leads the listener on a grand tour of the prog garden...

One more dance across the calendar and the search for all things prog continues on.  The journey thus far has been fun and exciting--and also quite the eye (and ear)-opener.  I hoped when I began the journey I would discover a few bands that were "flying low under the radar" or perhaps just cutting their prog teeth so to speak.  I had no idea the search for all things prog would be this enjoyable or that so many bands would be putting out so much fantastic music!  Please support the artists; there is no better way to keep the prog garden flourishing...until next time...

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