If I was to say that Handsome Karnivore remind me more of a European band than one from New Jersey, it should be taken as the highest praise. I only say it because I associate such ornate and epic majesty, such progressive ways of musical thinking, such elegant and eloquent song-crafting with this side of the water. I’ll take nothing away from the many genres and innovations that have been embraced by the USA but I generally think of that land’s music as being more direct, more instantly accessible and more aimed at mainstream markets. Entities From the Fog is none of that. And I thank them for that fact.

What it is, is awesome, a layered and textured modern rock symphony, as much akin to the classical world as to the one that revels in foot-on-the-monitor, heads down, no-nonsense, mindless rock music. Perhaps more so. What they present the listener with here are more musical statements than songs, fully formed and expressive pieces forged of technical guitar work, from heavy and infectious riffs to delicate motifs, basslines which are both powerful and melodic in equal measure and drums which drive, punctuate and groove. You get expressive vocals delivering meaningful lyrics (which does make a wonderful change for rock music) and waves and washes of keyboards that ebb and flow through the spaces left by the other instruments, pulling it all together and acting like some sort of musical glue.

Now that is a lot to work with and yet the arrangement and orchestration of the songs mean that there is more than enough space for everything to be showcased, heard and appreciated. And again, unusual for music straddling the rock, metal and prog realms, the lyrics are relevant and of the moment, no songs about hobbits or space voyages, although there is an edge of mystic about some of the proceedings, most songs weigh in at around the three-minute mark and I suspect there is no one wearing a cape or looking to play the music as part of an on-ice extravaganza. ( Yes, Mr Wakeman, I’m looking at you.)

If this is prog then it is the new and acceptable face of it, short, sharp and shockingly good. If it is rock, it is deft and delicate, adventurous and creative. If it is metal then it is accessible and cliche free. I suspect the answer is that it lies somewhere in the middle of all those genres and each acts to control and temper the other. If that is the case then it works, the results are magnificent.

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