From Australia, after ten years, the first full length studio album from a band that fuses elements of progressive metal, epic rock, middle eastern grooves and stoner psychedelia all into one package. “Distant Dreams” is a double CD with 88 minutes of old school rock, including a vast array of instruments including vintage Prophet and Arp synths, Irish whistles and zither all complimenting the power trio format of guitar, bass and drums. This is an album which rocks but is not afraid to become moody, even trippy and experimental, especially on the second CD.
The band consists of Honey Boy Jim on Electric and acoustic guitars, additional keyboards on "Loving Ways Today" "Warriors of Enchantment", English, Latin & Bulgarian vocals, Big Tom on Bass and lead vocals on "Death", Paul Deeble hitting the Drums and percussion and the following Guest musicians:
Gavin O'Loghlen - Arp & Prophet synths, keyboards, vocoders, Irish whistles, Latin backing vocals, Vlad Alexic - Zither "Universal Love", "Crying for my Woman", Matt Spencer - Death growl "Going Crazy".
The most significant aspect of the CD, besides the 70s style hard rock, is the vocals of Honey Boy Jim, who sounds very much like Chris Farlowe (Colloseum, Atomic Rooster), but delivers with the melodic drone of an Ozzy Osbourne.
The first album drifts between mid-tempo rockers and the occasional speedy symphonic metal piece. It peaks with the exceptional “Crying for my Woman”, song 6, a near seven minute masterpiece of stoner rock, complete with spacey atmospheric interlude.
“Evil in the Sky” and “Lady in Black” close things off in strong hard rock fashion and leave the listener begging for more. There might be some irony in the last song’s title as the opening section of side two takes on the format of vintage Uriah Heep, especially in the swirling Hammond work. However, after “Lost Princess” the album regresses into to some highly experimental work and never really returns to the hard rock format. It’s as if the band really wanted to show off both sides of their influences.
I found the middle part of CD two to be muddling, indulgent and pretty much in the style of garage rock wanking. There are some First Nations style percussion moments that are fine, but the CD doesn’t really get interesting until “Lady of the Sea”, which at 14 minutes gives us a dramatic and sweeping conclusion to the album. Again, in the long, instrumental stoner Kraut rock kind of manner, the band lays on some very inspiring melodic atmospheres. I quite liked the track and wish CD 2 had more of it.
In the end, you’re getting a good hour of respectable music with “Distant Dreams” and that’s saying a lot for the band. So if you like 70s style hard rock, with stoner psychedelic and progressive tinges, you will get your money’s worth with this CD.