CD reviews are a rarity for me, but I'll make an exception for Andrew Roussak (born in Russia and living in Germany), whose recording career I've been able to follow right from the start - ever since we met on internet around 2006. Last week he released his third solo album ("Storm warning"), after his eclectic debut "No trespassing" from 2006 (commercial release 2008) and the piano album "Blue intermezzo" from 2010 - during that period he also released two albums as member of the prog metal band Dorian Opera ("No secrets" from 2008 and "Crusade 1212" from 2011). I have reviewed these four albums before on various sites, my judgement varying from "good" to "excellent".
Well, here he is once more after eight years of relative silence as far as studio work is concerned. If you get the chance to listen to his new album (an 8 minutes trailer is available on YouTube), a fair warning: the first minute of electronic sounds is not representative. After this intro, we get full-blooded symphonic prog, which although influenced by the 70s' giants of the genre, sounds fresh and up-to-date. Except for one track, all compositions are by Roussak himself. He also plays all instruments, not just the keyboards, except for three stunning guitar solos by Oli Weislogel, who also played on his debut album.
The two lead-off instrumental tracks ("Enter code", "Bringing peace and progress") rock with the best of them and feature as expected excellent keyboard work. "Left alone outside" is a great prog song, with guest vocals by Max Kottler. Another brilliant instrumental track with amazing keyboard wizardry ("Regata storica") follows - my favourite track on the album, and one of the best prog instrumentals I've ever heard. "Chasing shadows" changes the mood, a lovely ballad with vocals by Nadia Ayche, Largely piano-driven, a brilliant guitar solo by Oli Weislogel adds just that bit of spice. "Storm warning", the title song, is another instrumental, maybe just a bit less impressive than the first ones - but still very good. In the next track, like in some of the tracks on his previous albums, Roussak shows his affection for classical music. The Dowland composition "Can she excuse my wrongs" gets converted to a full-blooded prog track with another awesome display of keyboard pyrotechnics. The short vocal lines are uncredited, but they are actually by Roussak himself, and with false modesty noted in the credits as "backing vocals". The album closes with a three-part suite called "Malta sketches", with guest vocals in the final part by Selina Weidmann. The recording is excellent, with great definition of instruments and vocals. Good cover, good packaging with sufficient information (albeit in small letters...), but no lyrics.
So, what's the verdict? I considered the debut album promising ("Great musicianship, but a bit too much variation in style and mood"), the second album top notch ("all 12 tracks are very much worthwhile and make a wonderful collection - it really works well as an album"). Well, the third one blows the previous two out of the water. A delight from start to finish. One of the best prog albums I've heard for a long time.