2016 (self released)
The musician Trevor Tabone, hailing from Malta and living in the Czech Republic for years, has kept himself busy with his melodic neo-prog band Different Light since 1994. Its existence may be deemed erratic to say the least. As evidenced by my next scribbling.
When the band ceases to exist after the atmospheric debut album “All About Yourself” (1996) and an EP in 1999, Tabone moves to Prague and forms a new Different Light. It’s 2009 when their second album “Icons That Weep” is released with a handful of Czechs next to singing keyboardist Tabone, including masterful guitarist Petr Lux. Seven years later it’s the turn of our topic, “The Burden Of Paradise”, album number three. A successor has been released in the meantime in the shape of “Binary Suns” (2020), but for now the focus is on the previous one.
Because the melancholy of the debut album really appeals to me, a comparative study seems to me the right peg on which to hang this paragraph. The melancholy of “All About Yourself” brings with it a lot of sultry warmth with the result that the whole has a soothing lethargy about it. The latter is not particularly present on “The Burden Of Paradise”. A look at the track list makes things clear. Although the album only has eight songs, three of them have an epic division of eight, six and two subsections respectively. For example, “The Burden Of Paradise” has no less than 21 tracks, all of which in 66 minutes. You can safely conclude that the music is therefore more compact and concise. Let’s be honest, “The Burden Of Paradise” is a great neo-prog album full of inspired vocals, atmospheric keyboard chords, fine synth and piano themes, fantastic guitar solos and an unobtrusively good rhythm section.
I would prefer to discuss all 21 tracks, but my mother won’t let me, that’s why I grabbed my pogo stick and merrily leapt my way through it.
The album kicks off with the 18-minute In The Grand Scheme Of Things, which immediately demands attention with its atmospheric keyboards in opening track The Schemer Wakes. A beautiful synth theme that has a slightly Neal Morse-esque style makes its appearance and then moves on to Letter For Alice via an acoustic guitar. This track shows exactly what this album is all about. In short: catchy melodic neo-prog, music in which there is always room for a brilliant guitar solo with vocals that are somewhere in between Nick Barrett’s (Pendragon) and Ruud Stoker’s (Timelock). The subsequent Happiness is a bit of a quicky due to the extensive harmony vocals, once again reminds us of Neal Morse’s music. Pascal’s Wager and Out Of The Goldilocks Zone are very strong tracks, the first because of its rousing section containing an excellent guitar solo and the second because it’s an Arena-like instrumental, convincingly played. The epic closes with a short reprise of the opening theme, which is great in terms of composition.
Then they come up with two separate songs, of which the ballad Voice Of Outside provides the right demarcation. The song develops into a power ballad that is somewhat in the spirit of the previous epic and the same can be said of the instrumental afterwards.
With Eternal Return the band presents another epic. This time there are six tracks and, to please my mother, I will limit myself to the whole. This piano-driven song comes across as a bit fragmented, although the more elaborate AOR parts are definitely pleasant to listen to. The guitar solo towards the end can be seen as one of the best on the album.
Transient Dream has a Knight Area-esque vibe to it and will appeal to many fans of the knights’ old style. Another separate song is Mare Imbrium, an instrumental with voice fragments. It is quite common on this album to play with such sections a few times. Something I would normally dislike, but not this time.
The third epic presents itself with the two-part In Love And War. Now I have agreed with my father not to mention this one at all as I do not want to send my mother up the wall. There is so much beautiful happening here, I wouldn’t stop talking about it.
The closing All For You has a somewhat mild appearance and lyrics that makes you think. It’s the perfect ending to this entertaining CD.
My mother has already put the cricket-bat back in the closet and is now listening to “The Burden Of Paradise” with headphones on. I see a grin on her face. Justice at last.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022