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THUMPERMONKEY LIVES! (We Bake Our Bread Beneath Her Holy Fire) CD

I have to admit that most progressive rock bands bore me to death. There are a few exceptions as, for example, Gentle Giant, Gracious, Aunt Mary or King Crimson and, most recently, THUMPERMONKEY LIVES!. Hailing from the UK, this is their fourth album, released by Genin Records/Tooting Bizarre in 2009, and it's packed with intelligent ideas and unexpected changes. Even if their sound is not without the usual influences from the 70's (in this case early Genesis and King Crimson), this album has more to offer than a re-hash of the same old formula. It's a heady journey through prog, but it is always full of emotions and cool melodies. For me as an old Frank Zappa fan I am particularly pleased by the fact that he also left a permanent mark here. Yet here too, it is obvious that THUMPERMONKEY LIVES! don't want to imitate that musical genius, because that would be destined to fail, but it seems as if they share the same approach.

Occasionally there a some good heavy riffs as for example in 'Whateley' or 'Abyssopelagic' and vocalist/guitarist Michael Woodman submits a strong, varied vocal performance on an extremely challenging set of songs. His vocals actually play a vital role in what makes this a great album. But all of the playing is superb; Rael Jones glides on guitar, Ben Wren is sensational on drums alternating between delicate and just flat powerhouse playing and Michael Hutchinson skills on bass are also excellent. The music is at times fierce and ferocious, while at other times dramatic and hauntingly beautiful. So in closing, THUMPERMONKEY LIVES! don't revolutionize the genre of heavy progressive rock, but it's an essential, captivating musical experience for open-minded people and a recording that is seminal and really grows on you. Recommended. (Release date: 30 Nov. 2009) (KK)