“Threnodies” is the followup to Messenger’s stellar debut “Illusory Blues” which the band melted their folk rock style with psych rock. While that style is still very much their foundation, “Threnodies” feels like a more fully realized statement. The grooves are stronger, the melodies are catchier and the band feel more like a full unit.
“Illustory Blues” felt more like a showcase for the harmonies of Khaled Lowe and Barnaby Maddick. While that still is very much a part of “Threnodies,” I was struck more by the musicianship coming more to the fore this time out. Drummer Jaime Gomez Arellano particularly seems more willing to give the songs a kick in the ass when needed.
The second track “Oracles Of War” is a good example of the growth and the chances that Messenger are willing to take this time. This song has more in common with Uriah Heep or Wishbone Ash with its fuzzed out rocking approach. The opening track “Calyx” wisely leans more on the approach of “Illusory Blues” with its beautiful harmonies which remind me of a mix of Jeff Buckley and Midlake.
The interesting thing about the first two tracks is that they each do the opposite of each other. “Calyx” starts mellow before it really rocks out, while “Oracles of War” starts heavy and sludgy before it becomes a trippy, dream sequence. “Balearic Blue” finds a way to integrate the frenetic pace with an incredible chorus.
“Celestial Spheres” has a great groove that allows keyboardist Dan Knight to spread out a bit. The somewhat bluesy riff of “Pareidolia” gives a cool 60s vibe. On this track the harmonies remind me a bit of Cream. The mellow “Crown of Ashes” closes things out and makes the perfect ending as it too harkens back to the last album.
“Threnodies” is everything that prog rock SHOULD be. They write great songs, sing beautifully and never overplay anything. The songs on “Threnodies” were one that needed to be written and performed, it feels completely organic. While pretension can certainly be a part of prog rock, it’s nice that Messenger realize an honest approach is far more rewarding.
2. Oracles Of War
3. Balearic Blue
4. Celestial Spheres
7. Crown Of Ashes
8. Song Slowly Song (Tim Buckley Cover)
Label: Inside Out Music