Band: Malcolm Smith
Band Website: www.metaphor.org
Label: Trope Audio
Label Website: www.tropeaudio.com
Release Date: 2014
After three well received symphonic progressive rock albums with the band Metaphor, San Francisco based Malcolm Smith (guitars) decided to take a stab at a solo effort of self-penned material. In the break between Metaphor projects Smith brought together fellow Metaphor members Marc Spooner (keyboards) and John Mabry (vocals track 4) and Anglagard and White Willow’s Mattias Olsson (drums) along with Loren Gustafson (bass), Deborah Roth (vocals track 5), Rich Longacre (guitars) and Craig Launer (guitars). The musical style displayed on We Were Here is naturally similar to the work of Metaphor, its classic symphonic progressive rock, and yet as you might expect, it sounds very different as well.
We Were Here features six tracks making up roughly forty-seven minutes of music. Much of the album is instrumental allowing for all manner of instrumental interplay. Lead parts are constantly traded off as either guitars or keyboards come to the fore. Smith incorporates both electric and acoustic guitars offering up a very wide tonal pallet, while keyboards provide sounds as varied as organ, strings, flutes and even saxophones. With most of these songs on the longer side, there are plenty of musical change-ups all handled with ease. We effortlessly go from arpegiated segments building up themes to sudden staccato repetition all of which form a transition to the song’s next major musical statement. Songs build and subside in intensity with contrasting loud and soft passages. Long sustained chords and building crescendos are sprinkled throughout that again form the connecting tissue to these multi-part compositions. One moment the music is very pleasant and melodic but it will just as easily turn to something more complex with many notes becoming almost dissonant although never over the edge. The overall tone is as I say classic symphonic prog and while the guitar is ever present it never dominates. Instead these compositions display more of a collective sound that suits the music rather than the performer.
If you’re a fan of the music of Smith’s band Metaphor, I dare say you’ll thoroughly enjoy the music created on We Were Here. If you’ve not checked out the band or are new to the scene this is an excellent place to start your adventure. But be careful because I’m sure once you start you won’t want to stop. This is a great disc full of intricate and melodically complex symphonic progressive rock that will please a lot of people. Highly recommended.