There was a saying when I was growing up: “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” The first song on the self-titled album from German Progressive Rock band Thybeaux does just that. “The Scope“ starts with the all of the ethereal eeriness of a horror movie soundtrack. As with all good Proggy goodness, it is the musical equivalent of a rollercoaster, twisting and turning it’s way into a soft, arpeggiated outro with one of the best, most tasteful guitar solos this side of Marillion’s Steven Rothery.
My most formative years were spent listening to the Neo-Prog movement of the late 80s and early 90s. Thybeaux does not disappoint. In their debut effort, I can hear the echoes and strains of early Dream Theater, Marillion, and to a lesser extent Porcupine Tree.
Not to exclude Prog Rock’s more famous European cousin, Symphonic Metal, Susann Lohse vocals remind me of a more raw Floor Jansen. Susann has a host of different vocal techniques in her arsenal and she’s not afraid to use them. While she lacks the sheer power of Ms. Jansen, Susann is emotional and adept with everything from clean to near-growl.
“Under the Wig” is the second track on the album. The intro reminded me heavily of Epica, which is never a bad thing. Definitely a rocker, this tune had me hooked and headbanging from the first note.
From there, the band returns to a more Marillion-esque sound for a brief two-and-a-half minute instrumental interlude. Also like Marillion, while the parts to the interlude are all simple, they are layered in a way to make it seem more complex. Definitely a satisfying listen.
As one would expect from a Progressive Rock band, the musicianship is excellent, the song construction is complex and deep. Not “deep” in the sense that it’s over-composed, but in the sense that every listen yields something more; subtle vocal context you missed the first time, an underlying keyboard part that holds everything up, an extra guitar line that helps the song build without jumping to the foreground.
“Beauty Machine” reminds me of A Sound of Thunder’s The Lesser Key of Solomon. Always one of my favorite female-fronted Metal bands, this was a beautiful homage to one of the best and, in my opinion, most underrated Metal bands of our time.
Stepping away from the expected path of a Prog band, Thybeaux blurs the genre lines by combining their progressive sound with Hip-Hop in “The Order”. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised when I heard the rapping, but not at all disappointed. With only so many notes to work with, combining genres is one of the few ways bands can truly be unique.
“Black Lines” is a straight-up headbanger with Petrucci-inspired licks and Dream Theater-esque time changes sure to please the most ardent of metalheads.
Returning to the horror movie-like eeriness, “Desolation Pt. 1” and “Desolation Pt. 2” are purely satisfying in their well-crafted moodiness. Pick your horror movie: Late night stroll through the woods, drive on an abandoned road, night in a creepy old building – this pair of ambient, ethereal chillers create the perfect atmosphere.
All in all, there is not a weak track on this album. This is a refreshing return to the Neo-Prog goodness of yesteryear. The musicianship is excellent, the vocals emotional, raw and versatile.