Artist: Pure Reason Revolution
Album Title: Eupnea
Label: InsideOut Music
Date of Release: 3 April 2020
I must admit that I missed Pure Reason Revolution the first time around. When they released their first three albums between 2006 and 2010, I must admit that I wasn’t as open to their electronic-heavy and spacey brand of progressive rock, so didn’t investigate any further at all. I was also in the grip of a family tragedy within this four-year period, one that saw me head for heavier, gloomier climes as well as seeking comfort in old favourites, not to mention a renewed love of the warmth of neo-prog. It is therefore a delightful surprise that, after a decade-long hiatus, I am able to give this UK band another try.
What is even more delightful, is the way that I have taken to the music, in a way that I simply wouldn’t have previously. That’s growth, people!
It does mean though, that if you’re looking to read a review that compares ‘Eupnea’ to their earlier material, what follows will not be for you. I’m fully intending to carry out some personal exploration of the back catalogue in the near future, but whether ‘Eupnea’ sounds anything like ‘The Dark Third’ (2006), ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’ (2009) or ‘Hammer and Anvil’ (2010), I haven’t really got a clue beyond what I remember hearing and quickly dismissing some fourteen or so years ago. Instead, I want to focus on what I hear on this record and why I enjoy it so much.
I get the distinct feeling when listening to ‘Eupnea’ that the band’s duo of Jon Courtney (vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist) and Chloë Alper (vocalist, bassist and keyboardist) are a renewed and reinvigorated force. Music of this quality doesn’t come from jaded or tired musicians and there’s a palpable sense of enthusiasm and creativity that shines through each of the six songs that comprise this album, regardless of whether the song is a shorter pop-infused number, or a longer, more sprawling progressive affair.
What each track does have in common, is a rather inviting sense of melody, regardless of whether they are created by layers of atmospheric, electronic synth soundscapes, by the guitars that flit from surprisingly chunky and driving, to more subtle and bright notes, or by the engrossing dual vocals of Courtney and Alper. It’s this melodic sensibility to Pure Reason Revolution’s music that has most captivated me and turned me into an admirer of their music.
The opening electronic sounds that usher in the opening track ‘New Obsession’ are soon joined by a strong drum beat and some tinkling guitars that help create the first gorgeous melodic moment after less than 30 seconds. The vocals aren’t long in joining either with Alper quickly joining Courtney’s opening line. This is a classic builder of a song, gaining in intensity as it develops across its five minute length. More bold synth sounds emerge as the guitars deliver a fuzzed-up wall of sound, albeit sparingly. The central chorus is the killer blow though, being a genuine grower until the point where you can’t get the gorgeous singing and sophisticated hooks out of your head. I wouldn’t class this as my usual fare but it has snared me, nonetheless.
I am also a big fan of ‘Silent Genesis’, a ten-minute composition that explores a much more varied landscape of sounds and textures. Again, it starts off quietly with a sense of calm assurance. The progressive aspects have more in common with Pink Floyd than with, say, Dream Theater, as there’s an uncluttered, sparse feel to the music, allowing soft vocals and measured guitar notes to add a sense of poignancy to the track. That said, there are bursts of heavier, riff-led music to add variety and further texture as the song carefully navigates its way through a number of styles, everything from electronica, to jazz-lite moments, to post and progressive rock. The song simply flies by, coming to a close in a flurry of loud guitars and an urgent drum beat that gets the head nodding in appreciation.
‘Maelstrom’ is possibly the most inaccurately-named track as it has a bright and breezy air to it, with beautiful dual vocals, tinkling piano notes and bold beat. It has a properly soothing feel to it and I’m swept up in its inviting embrace each and every time. Even arguably my least favourite song on the record, ‘Ghosts & Typhoons’ is impossible to ignore thanks to yet more strong melodies, albeit more pronounced in the latter stages. It may be one of the more abrasive tracks but I don’t warm to it until the midway mark when a swirling and eddying melody kicks in to raise a smile on my wizened visage. Not only that, but there’s a detour into quieter, more ambient territory before orchestral synths increase the tension and grandiosity. I love the pulsing beat and guitar riffs that emerge in a flurry of energetic verve as the song comes to a close with one last powerful reprise of the central melody.
Despite being incredibly light and poppy for the most part, ‘Beyond Our Bodies’ is another irresistible four-minute exploration of melodies and allowing the dual vocals to work their unquestionable charms. The closing title track is also the longest on the album and takes plenty of time to reel the listener in. It begins with pronounced synths and vocals from Courtney, before the guitars come to the party, delivering some heart and soul to the song in a somewhat Floydian manner. I’m a sucker for the explosion of sound that occurs at just shy of the five-minute mark; it isn’t heavy, but the richness of the orchestral sounds that overlay the subtle melodies just pull me under its spell. But, in fairness, the whole song twists and turns really nicely meaning that it justifies its length without question.
And there you have it. Consider me a convert to the Pure Reason Revolution cause. ‘Eupnea’ is an intelligent blend of electronica, progressive rock that is made all the stronger due to some beguiling melodic sensitivity. I like the music more with every listen and I’m now very excited to delve into the band’s past at the earliest opportunity.
The Score of Much Metal: 87%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: