Eight days prior to Halloween, on October 23, Opium Denn's new album 'Demarkation' will be released. 'Demarkation' is the first of a planned trilogy of concept albums. Thirty-seven minutes in length, it relates the account of a life from the moment of parturition to death and, remarkably, its resuscitation or resurrection. The album's release will be accompanied by nine sequential videos, one video for each song on the album. In other words, 'Demarkation' is part one of an extremely ambitious musical mission.
The name, Opium Denn, gives way to a bit of confusion because during the 1990s, there was a gothic rock/ethereal wave band called Opium Den, which hailed from the New England region. The Opium Denn (spelled with the double labial, nn) being reviewed here plays progressive rock somewhat similar to Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Blue Oyster Cult.
The first track on 'Demarkation', 'I Am A Feeling 1', is the first of three songs of the same name. Essentially parts 1, 2 and 3 are one extended song, parceled out over the album. Excellently done, Opium Denn has avoided simply chopping the song up. Instead, each part may stand alone, but the nexus is obvious. 'I Am A Feeling' transmits the floating-through-time vibe of Pink Floyd and Blue Oyster Cult, sustaining a compelling melody throughout, along with admirable guitar riffs and superb keyboards.
The serene vocals, capable of strident growling when appropriate, sounds like the sober, non-toked up version of Bob Dylan. It's a voice that provides the perfect complement to the progressive, slightly psychedelic music.
On the track entitled 'Leaf', a piano and guitar deliver the introduction, which then segues into a bluesy, psychedelic tune. 'A Drone' is an instrumental piece, with a stylish solo guitar offering the intro, followed by the rest of the instruments adding further dimension.
Probably the hardest rocking song on the album, 'Eyes To The Sky', gives an opportunity to exhibit the vocal range. He growls and soars with aplomb. The next track, 'Masks and Uniform', displays a sensuously paced song, with subtle traces of The Doors and Pink Floyd. The drums demonstrate wonderful breaks and cymbal splashes which, along with a glitzy piano solo, form the foundation of the tune.
The title track resembles a progressive rock version of some Buddy Miller tune, and does it well. Another glittering guitar solo is complemented by a lengthy piano solo that flows across the musical panorama like a massive river. It's a beautiful song.
There is no denying that Opium Denn has beau coup talent. The arrangements melt and surge in all the right places; the vocals are seamless; and the piano, guitar and drums parade virtuosity. If Opium Denn can continue this trend on the next two concept albums, the project will achieve something auspicious. Only time and two more albums will tell.
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