Iluvatar - A story two days wide - 1999
When a group takes more than usual to release a new album, I usually tend to think that they are working heavily on it, and therefore it will be a much better one than their previous releases. As a consequence, I feel mistreated when this rule does not work. This new Iluvatar album is not at all better than their previous ones (although neither worse). The sadness arises as I can not appreciate any willingness to progress in their music, or any attempt to make it more personal.
Iluvatar "manufactures" Neoprogressive music in a very European style, characterized by a brilliant elegance. The exquisite musicians: Dennis Mullin (guitars), Deán Morekas (bass), Jim Rezek (keyboards) and Chris Mack (battery) -the latter is the only change since "Children" (95) - never get crazy and always maintain the elegant sound in soft and strong moments. The amazing voice of singer Glenn McLaughin alone elevates this album to the highest peaks. In my opinion, he is one of the best current vocalists, without a doubt.
"A story two days wide" contains seven songs that vary between four and fifteen minutes of duration, with a very homogeneous style amongst them, and with the logical up and downs of the Neoprogressive style. Seven well elaborated tracks with all kind of atmospheres but with a strong deja-vu sensation. The problem of this CD is its lack of originality, strength or composing personality. We see plenty of poorly condensed influences lacking the spice of some original ideas. More than showing influences, it seems as if they have copied pieces from here and there. I fear this is more an album made to satisfy buyers than to surprise and take risks.
As an example the last song "Indian rain" (the longest and in theory key track of the album) begins with the typical recording of a soft and melancholic rainstorm we have heard in some many other records. In itself, this is not bad, but it hints of what will come later. There is not a moment in this song with an apex of originality. A poor piece to which only a strong musicianship adds any value.
Of the rest of the album, I would highlight the first song "Sojourns", the most inspired composition of the whole album, in my opinion. Of "Even angels fall" I would say it is one of the most boring songs I have listened for a long time. The whole work maintains roughly the same level of quality.
It has also been a good time to listen again to their previous albums. I reach the conclusion that Iluvatar has the same problem than many other bands: they get more technical and professional on time but decreasingly fresh or imaginative.
In spite of this harsh review, I would say this is a good Neoprogressive album, but I will probably forget it in a short period of time. Iluvatars music is as a perfume with a pleasant scent that only lives for some minutes. And the sad thing is that, I believe, they own the essence needed to make it an intense and durable perfume.