Dilemma - Random Acts of Liberation - 2018


“... a melting pot of power Prog with Pop and Neo Prog influences ...”


Remember that remarkable Dilemma album from 1995 entitled “Imbroccata” that was released on the Dutch SI Music label? At that time Dilemma was one of the most interesting Dutch Prog bands for me. In the lineup from those days you could find drummer and violin player Frank van Essen (Iona), keyboardist Robin Z(uiderveld) and vocalist Danny Butler. All the keyboards, the violin and the voice of Danny made that album special. When a second album was announced this year I was very exited and had high expectations. The only member of that original lineup that made it to the new album “Random Acts Of Liberation” is keyboardist Robin Z. The album has been released on the Dutch label Butler Records.


Dec Burke - vocals, guitars; Paul Crezee - guitars; Collin Leijenaar - drums, loops, percussion, additional keys, sound design, urban sampling, programming, backing vocals; Erik van der Vlis - bass; Robin Z - keyboards, grand piano, geo synth


Besides the already mentioned keyboardist Robin Z the new Dilemma has some familiar names in their lineup. The new vocalist is Dec Burke and the new drummer is Collin Leijenaar. The latter has an important role on this album. His drums and percussion are all over the place and he is also responsible for some additional keys, sampling and the sound design. I am not surprised to read that he is also the producer of The this fine album. He did a wonderful job.

The new band had a flying start even before the official release of the album. A month before that release that band was the supporting act of Mike Portnoy’s band Sons Of Apollo and traveled through Europe. The album has an impressive duration of 72 minutes and you can find the following fourteen track on this album; “The Space Between The Waves”, “Amsterdam (This City)”, “Aether”, “All That Matters”, “The Inner Darkness”, “Dear Brian”, “Prodigal Son”, “Pseudocomaphobia”, “Spiral Pt. II”, “Openly,” “Intervals”, “Play With Sand”, “Wonder (Not Of My Own)” and “The Mist Of Vale”.

“Random Acts Of Liberation” is a very good sounding album full of catchy melodies and the music could be described as a melting pot of power Prog with Pop and Neo Prog influences. As mentioned before the impressive drum parts of Collin Leijenaar are all over the place here. Together with the production of Collin himself this brings a kind of Neal Morse and Spock’s Beard feeling to the album. But there are also some more modern influences. For instance in the opening of the song “Prodigal Son”. The way of singing has a strong Steven Wilson feeling. Personally I think that the band don’t need this. The second part of the song has very strong melodies and catchy vocal refrains. Or just listen to the diversity of a track like “Amsterdam (This City)”. Also on this new album Robin Z rejoice us with some wonderful keyboard parts. One of my personal highlights is the song “The Inner Darkness”. With a duration of more then twelve minutes this is the longest track of the album. The song has beautiful vocal lines that are sung in a convincing way by Dec Burke. After some nice melodic guitar parts in the first part you can find some Dream Theater influences in the second part. Colin shines here with some amazing drum parts. The hectic song “Pseudocomaphobia” includes some fine keyboard playing and the vocal harmonies brought the name of Spock’s Beard to my mind. The piano in “Spiral Pt II” let me yearn for the “Imbroccata album. In “Openly” Dec Burke shows his vocal qualities. I love the parts with the slow and beautiful vocal parts, the tasteful keyboard parts and the nice melodies. The up-tempo parts are impressive ... but I get the feeling that I have heard it all before. That is my only problem with this fine album. The album sounds fantastic has a great production and all the musicians are displaying their musical craftsmanship. But somehow I miss the originality of that first album.


But maybe I am just a sentimental guy who has an old picture in my mind of how Dilemma should sound. If you don’t have that problem and don’t compare the old and new band with each other too much, I am sure you will love this fine album which is well written, played and recorded. “Imbroccata” was more keyboard dominated and had a more Symphonic Rock vibe with some heavy (guitar) bites. And off course in the person of Danny Butler they had a remarkable vocalist. “Random Acts Of Liberation” is more a mix of Power Prog and Pop. Lovers of bands like Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard and even Steven Wilson will love this album. And if you are a Collin Leijenaar fan ... this album is a must buy!

author - date - rating - label

Douwe Fledderus - December 2018 -   - Butler Records