Scythe is a band from Germany and apart from a self produced demo “Each other” and an official bootleg album “Live at the progparade #1”, this studio recording entitled “Divorced land” is their first official album. Band members are Thomas Thielen on guitar and vocals, Udo Gerhards on keyboards, Ingo Roden on bass and Martin Walter on drums.
Because I find it hard to compare the sound of this band with other progbands, follows below a review of every song.
1."Outro - a striving after wind"
(3:25): This is an apocalyptic instrumental intro to the album, originally
meant to be the closing track. The main theme is played by the piano and
builds up tension, with in the end thundering drums and a screaming guitar
above a thick keyboard layer;
2. "Am i really here?" (9:29): A serious sounding vocal song with complex structure and an not so easy melody. Again many keyboards, mainly piano and a sort of question-answer dialog sort of vocals, with some outbursts. An easy midpart, with a nice soft synth solo and guitar solo. Modest and eruptive , but overall a fascinating song.
3. "Faded": A short track solely consisting of a bass solo with percussion and drums.
4. "One step further" (14:24): One of the two longer songs on this album, opening up with easy synthstrings and pizzicato guitar with vocals. After a few minutes this converts to a more intense guitar riff, joined by synthesizer and vocals later on. Again very much tension is being build up, with thundering drums and an intriguing polyphonic guitar solo, interrupted by a funny brass synth part and after that more melodious synthesizer and guitar solos. After an easy part this fascinating song ends with a more or less bombastic finale featuring beautiful guitar solos above a layer of keyboards and strings and nice, a little Gentle Giant like multi-layered vocals.
5. "The weight of the wind" (9:16): This track features an intriguing theme and opens with a tight rhythm underneath a repetitive organ theme accompanying vocals. After an instrumental break the rhythm becomes more relaxed and than follows a jazzy part with first diverse solos on electric piano, guitar and synth, the latter two a little creepy. This changes then into a variation on the intriguing opening theme, again with vocals reminding of Gentle Giant.
6. "Acces" (1:26): A short sensitive piano piece with drums and choir-strings.
7. "Discussed" (8:05): This song opens with an atmospheric keyboard and bass intro; the rest of the song is thematically and as to structure reminiscent of track 5, with some darker and a-tonal parts.
8. "Naivety" (2:01): Again a short intermezzo featuring tremolo guitar chords with a Mike Oldfield like short (synthguitar?) solo with strings underneath and a running train in the background. Simple, but quite atmospheric.
9. "Run" (7:15): After a short soft and easy vocal intro, this up tempo song is driven by a swinging, jazzy bass riff. The second half of this song is mainly instrumental with again some eruptive parts next to a nice jazzy electric piano solo above the ongoing bass riff. I know I am repeating myself, but as before, very intriguing. Flashes of Caravan and Hatfield and the North run by.
10. "Denied" (16:40): This longest piece of the album is a more melodious and probably the most symphonic song of this album, with a nice introductory synth theme. Again very dynamic and with many nice keyboard and guitar parts. As most of other tracks with a grand finale. Also because of the good vocals, this definitely is my favorite song of the album.
Scythe shows on this album overall good musicianship and the ability to write dynamic, complex and intriguingly arranged songs, with frequently a rather dark atmosphere and much tension. In the CD booklet the band mentions that their album contains several “nightmare like” pieces and I certainly can agree to that. Although some vocals parts, as mentioned, are similar to Gentle Giant, the rest of their music is definitely very different. Probably much more like Van der Graaf Generator. Characteristic of their songs is the use of rather short repetitive keyboard (piano or organ) riffs or themes. This definitely is progressive rock. It needs some listening before you get to appreciate this album, but it’s worthwhile. If these guys manage to put some more pleasure into their music, like in the last track "Denied", it will surely become more worthwhile.