Belling the Tiger - 2021 - Lost
(53:52; Barking Mad Records)
1. I Have No Heart 4:56
2. Insensate 6:40
3. Larger Concern 5:52
4. Bleak 6:31
5. Mental Blindness 7:14
6. Lost - Part 1 3:44
7. Lost - Part 2 5:44
8. Lost - Part 3 2:06
9. Lost - Part 4 2:34
10. Lost - Part 5 4:12
11. Shine On 4:19
Michael Moore - guitars, keyboards, mandolin, vocals
Danny Grimm - vocals
Duane Harvey - drums, percussion, vocals
Andrew Harvey - bass, vocals
Michael Johnstone - guitars
Anisoara Balalau - vocals
US band Belling the Tiger is one of those bands that suddenly just appeared with a ready made album and not revealing all that much of any previous history of the band. In this case the band appeared in 2021 with the album "Lost", released on presumed private label Barking Mad Records.
Belling the Tiger is one more of the bands that have chosen to explore a variety of progressive rock that should have a broader reach. Melodies and harmonies are at the forefront, the abrasive technical bits are kept to a minimum and subtle at that, but with ample space and room for haunting instrument solo passages and alluring contrasts. For me this band represents an accessible variety of progressive rock that doesn't really fit into any of the main subcategories, and in the old days I guess the classification for this album would simply have been art rock.
That being said, there are a few references to be specified here. One of the cornerstones of the band appears to be a more retro-oriented variety of hard or heavy progressive rock, with a darker guitar tone and bluesy, 70's feel as the dominating features. Another cornerstone comes pretty close to what I would describe as neo-progressive rock, with floating keyboard textures and subordinate guitar details as a prominent feature.
What makes this album hard to specify in terms of a specific subgenre placement is the additional features present. There is a subtle jazzrock undercurrent present in many of the songs, and acoustic rock segueing over to folk rock is another dimension that occasionally comes along. In one case with a distinct world music orientation as far as tones and timbres are concerned. In addition, what may or may not have been inclusion of post-rock elements appears in at least one song, and we have atmospheric laden elements present with something of an ambient vibe to them as well. So while everything is listener friendly and melodic, this isn't an album that is short on variety.
Where I do find this production to be if not lacking then at least having dimensions that may be a bit divisive is in the area of mix and production. I find the overall sound of the album to be a tad closed in and with what I'd describe as below average sounding quality. Another divisive aspect are the lead vocals: While melodic they are also expressive and very distinct, and as with all distinct vocals they will be something of an acquired taste.
Belling the Tiger have made a promising debut album for sure, showcasing a versatile yet accessible approach to the art of creating progressive rock. While there are many good qualities to this album, for my sake I have the impression that the mix and production isn't quite at the level that is expected today, and that the lead vocals may not be as broadly appealing as the music as such. All in all, this is an album worth checking out by those who appreciate accessible progressive rock made with depth and variety.
Olav "Progmessor" Björnsen, March 2022