I find it’s just as nice that a band give you a history lesson, as opposed to journalists and writers filling in the blanks for the audience at hand. Modern metal has given us a shed load of lessons on civilisation’s greatest triumphs and conflicts, courtesy of the likes of Sabaton, Ex Deo, and well… at a stretch Iron Maiden. It’s also not more uncommon than not that progessive rock bands conceptualise entire albums on a narrative or storyline, which that their music serves as a aural counterpart to the words used, after all, Mastodon got their career off to a start by doing so. But how many bands actually mix both historical contexts with a deeply emotive storyline, to create a phenomenal cinematic experience unlike very few you could ever listen to? The brothers Davis would like to throw their hats in the ring. Vienna Circle, named after a gathering of philosophers and scientists in Austria’s capital university spanning over three decades, actually hail from Wiltshire in the UK and their story of 2008’s White Clouds concerns the First World War and the protagonist heading to the frontline. The music and lyrics deal with the emotional hardships of the protagonist, later taking flight and depicting the inevitable firefights that tear their world asunder. White Clouds as a whole, could be best described as taking Dream Theater’s Metropolis Part 2, making it less complex in narrative and mellower but far, far more heart-rendering. It feels wrong to separate just one song to put under the microscope, as it kinda takes away, almost cheapens, the immersion of the whole experience but to gage a taste of the incredible capabilities of these awesome musicians, I bring you the achingly beautiful ballad of A Break In The Clouds. Emphasizing that progressive nature far more fondly than the rock side, aside from that utterly magnificent guitar solo, the gorgeous piano-driven composition resonates an elegance that some classical artists can’t even match, with the strings then woven with it together to create a far greater emotional impetus. Drums are understated to say the least, but serve to only increase the scale and magnitude of the mood invoked here. Vocals reach a soulful level that braces your tear ducts for overtime, which extended to near six minutes of running time becomes a near impossible sensation to fight off. If you’re apart from your lover, or mourning the loss of someone dear to you, you may need a Kleenex for this one. Fittingly, the soft bloops of keyboard at the end accompany the hallowed bells of a clock tower to bring this astonishing piece to a close. And that’s just one excerpt of this fantastic album. It practically defies belief that such lovingly crafted music and attention to detail is nearly all the work of just two brothers with a passion for captivating, emotionally stirring storytelling. Vienna Circle are truly a marvel, a remarkable pair of musicians who deserve every accolade and acclaim bestowed upon them, showing a serenity and grace to progressive music that bands can scarcely dream of conceiving.
Their most recent album Silhouette Moon came out two years ago after being crafted over five years after its predecessor, and while yet to listen through the entire album, what I’ve heard matches this jaw-dropping standard. Both that and White Clouds can be bought from their website, or from most respectable music retailers. I implore you to listen to both albums in full. You won’t regret it.