“Inferno” is multi-instrumentalist Scott Mosher’s third release over eight years. And judging by the consistent quality of this hybrid of ambient and progressive Space Rock, one can see why it takes so long to get a work out there.
First of all, Mosher does all the writing, most of the instrumentation, and all the artwork for the booklets. And the packaging with each of his releases is second to none.
But let’s talk more about the music. Mosher’s previous work, “Virtuality”, made my top five list of 2001. I described it then as a slick, immense cross between Ayreon and Rush. The same could be said of “Inferno”, though there is a more radio friendly sound on “Inferno”; but it’s still progressive.
Like Hawkwind’s “Chronicles of the Black Sword”, “Inferno” begins by gravitating between vocal tracks and instrumental bridges. “Dark Sun” is a spectacular instrumental that pulls us into its nebular vortex, soon to erupt into “MindField” and “Left Behind”. This is vintage Rush, late seventies material, with plenty of moog and synth sweeps adding foundation to some steady, riff-driven rock. Part time guitarist, vocalist Todd Corso – the only other contributor to Mosher’s work - does sound like Geddy Lee but he stays clear of impersonating him.
The gloomy 9 minute “Exile” pulls something of Brian Eno’s contribution to the “Dune” soundtrack, accessorized with Tangerine Dream-like loops. After the obligatory vocal session, the song erupts into a rocking three minute climax. “Engines of Industry” pays homage to industrial metal without the coldness, but it does have the mechanical repetition. It’s not my favorite genre nor is this my favorite track.
“Look into you” is a heavy-riff ballad with pounding drum machine, a sound that recalls Eloy’s “Ra” album. “Ghostland” follows with another straight up space rocker. “The World Fades to Gray” is the album’s magnum opus. At 11 minutes it explores all the sounds and techniques that Mosher is able to muster without being self-indulgent or smug. Easily my favorite track on the album, it is more of a throwback to the last album.
“Season of Fire” ends things with an extremely strong instrumental. It is a space-drenched saga that evokes imaginative journeys into the beyond. Fans of Tangerine Dream and electronica will love it.
I have a few criticisms of this album, but they are minor. “Inferno’s” drum machines are more upfront and draw more attention to their artificial flavor on this album. While that’s part of the point of this type of music, their presence betrays Mosher’s ability to balance his digital landscapes with an organic flavor. I also find some of the middle tracks in the album a bit too radio friendly for my progressive tastes.
But while “Inferno” may not perfect like “Virtuality”, it still remains one of the finest releases in the progressive space rock genre in recent years. Mr. Mosher is an excellent song crafter and his work is second to none.