Reviewed By Justin Donnelly
The Eternal's front-man's long overdue triumphant solo effort
Having spent his twenty year career in a various musical groups (most notably The Eternal, and to a lesser extent Cryptal Darkness, Alternative 4 and InSomnius Dei), vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/engineer/producer/mixer Mark Kelson has decided to take a step into the unknown and try his hand as a solo artist.
After The Eternal completed their touring commitment in support of 2013’s When the Circle of Light Begins to Fade, Kelson locked himself away in his studio (Kelsonic Studios) and started work on his debut solo offering. Almost a year later, Kelson has emerged with Resurgence. And as expected, it’s another first class effort from the Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) based musician.
Upon first listen, it would be fair to say that Resurgence doesn’t stray all that far from the sound and direction Kelson took The Eternal. But to describe the album outright as such would be doing the album a disservice, because if the listen truly allows the album to sink in, there’s no mistaking the differences between Kelson’s other band, and Kelson as a solo artist.
The album begins in a stirring fashion with the mostly instrumental, “Samaṇa (Part I)”. The gradual rise in keyboards and piano give a very Pink Floyd feel, while the spoken word piece and the introduction of drums only add to the overall experience.
After the short opener, the album truly gets underway with “The Only Way Out Is In”. Clocking in at over ten minutes, this track is somewhat of an epic, but not the kind of track that overstays its welcome. Vocally and lyrically, Kelson digs deep and covers some fairly deep and personal issues, and the music reflects this personal journey perfectly. Initially starting out with Kelson on guitar, the song soon evolves into classic rock with a distinctly ‘70s vibe (again, influences from Pink Floyd and David Gilmour are evident), with Kelson really stretching out on the guitar front, and from a song writing sense, almost pushing his sound into progressive rock territory.
“My Own Degradation” takes on a heavier and more driven edge, with Kelson exercising his inner guitar demons with harsh riffing, powerful hard hitting drums and some extensive solo passages, all the while ensuring that the choruses literally jump out at the listener. Meanwhile, “Ocean Blue” is an emotive and heartfelt track that maintains an ambience throughout without losing any of its singer/songwriter vibe, while “Ācariya” (which is preceded by the short sound effect laden piece “Wide Awake”) comes from the other end of the spectrum where its perhaps the album’s most straight forward sounding heavy rock track with a slow and relaxed pace.
Although it’s hard to pin down one particular favourite from the album (the album is designed to be listened to as a whole, rather than by their individual track selections), I’d select “The Aftermath of Apathy” as one of the albums stronger cuts. From its slow building Pink Floyd/Porcupine Tree like keyboard introduction, Kelson introduces a steady drum pattern that’s as addictive as his vocal melodies, before bringing it all home with a stunning chorus that sticks in the mind long after the song has finished. In short, this song ranks as one of Kelson’s best, and a taste of his own unique style.
Finishing up is the short “Samaṇa (Part II)”, which follows the same vein as the opener, and closes the album perfectly.
In conclusion, while Kelson has rarely let me down, Resurgence is an absolute triumph for him as a songwriter, a performer and a producer. Fans of Kelson’s former efforts should hunt this album down. It’s guaranteed to live up to expectations.