2005 (Cyclops Records)
An album I always like to hear is “Crying Of The Whales” by German progband Abarax, because the concept about the suffering we as humans inflict on whales is well put together. The members of Abarax bring a heavenly Pink Floyd inspired band sound which is a mixture of melodic progressive rock and psychedelic passages. Despite the fact the atmosphere is generally quite worn and only two of the eight songs have a bit more spice, a lack of variation on the album is never really an issue. Strong vocal lines, formidable guitar solos and ingenious compositions will stick you to the speakers for over an hour. Oh yes, and of course the imaginative concept will do.
What meat do we actually have in store? In the centre of Abarax are father and son Grasekamp, dad Udo on keys and son Dennis on lead guitar, bass and drums. Together with lyricist and co-guitarist Howard Hanks, they founded Abarax in 2003 from their band Taste Of Timeless, like: if Pink Floyd doesn’t provide their fans with new material, we will do it ourselves. After two years of research and figments of the imagination about the music in which singer André Blaeute has also been added to the band, the recordings of their debut album are a fact. A year later, in February 2006, “Crying Of The Whales”, discussed here, appears on the Cyclops label.
In the first song Crying Of The Whales part 1, the warm, almost bluesy guitar work together with the woolly keyboard sound is very welcoming. It is a pleasant sound that makes it clear Abarax is not yet another Pink Floyd copycat, but the musicians show with integrity that they are enormously inspired. You don’t come across a moment on the entire album that evokes a different thought. It all remains very Abarax. Take the lingering Journeys End where the lyrical perspective is from the whales themselves. Their demand to be left alone is so touching, it overpowers every other feeling, meanwhile the song trudges along with sweeping harmony vocals and a great guitar solo. That solo is clearly inspired by the glorious finale of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb, However, Abarax places it in its own environment. The following twelve-minute Whale Massacre is actually a constant stream of guitar parts. It clearly shows what Abarax stands for. The choir-like harmony vocals from the first part, the spacious piece with the tight rhythm guitar halfway through and the nice organ towards the end carve out an unmistakable Abarax composition.
After the ambient transition track Part Of Evolution, two songs with a bit more spice present themselves, Natures Voice and Point Of No Return. Abarax takes a slightly different turn here, but they continue to drive around in the same area.
With the subsequent All These Walls, all the emotions of the album are released. For a long time the song has a subdued character with acoustic guitar and moody keyboard lines as designers. In the end, the song bursts open into a wonderful sea of guitars with a special ending. Do we hear a whale groaning here? I say yes. The closing Crying Of The Whales part II opens with a dramatic piece of music over which a text is spoken. Then Abarax comes with a reprise of the theme from the opening track, after which another excellent guitar solo blows out the song and with it the album.
After this beautiful CD, Abarax has proven not to be a one day fly. Four years later, the strong successor “Blue Room” is released and I can report from a reliable source that CD three is in the pipeline.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022