Refestramus - 2024 - Intour​í​st

(51:38; Melodic Revolution Records)

A few years ago I reviewed ‘Decoupage’ by Refestramus, which at the time was drummer and songwriter Derek Ferguson along with a couple of guests which included Ian Beabout and Jerry King. Here we have their second album, with Refrestramus now a band with Derek again being joined by Jerry (bass), Derek Pavlic (guitars, Mellotron and viola), and  Rogelio Souza (keyboards) along with various guests. I raved over the use of singer Craig Cairns last time, and he is again back on lead vocals but only on four tracks with NIDA on 8 and Ian and Nathan James on one. I noticed there is a statement on Bandcamp which says, “Might appeal to listeners of: Styx, Kansas, Flying Colors, Pattern-Seeking Animals, Lisa Hunt, Motar, Karnataka, and Asia”, and it is with the Seventies bands which this music is most aligned.

This is the style of prog which the American do so very well, mixing melodic rock and pomp into the genre to create something which is accessible and enjoyable at the first hearing without taking it too much into commercial pap. This does not feel like a new album in any way, as it feels as if it has come to us fully formed from nearly 50 years ago with a mid-late Seventies styling. The use of both male and female lead singers does give this something of a project feel as opposed to a band, which in some ways is a real shame, but given just how powerful both Chris and NIDA one can understand why they have both been utilised. “Mr. Darwin”, which has female lead, is way more bluesy with some great harmonica and a step back to the early Seventies as opposed to late. It is an incredibly varied album, and the first time I played it I found I enjoyed all the individual songs yet for me there was something which did not quite come together when playing them one straight after the other. I think it is because each one comes across so well that when there is such a shift in musical styles it can be jarring as one is not expecting it, but the more it is played the more one understands just why this makes the album so interesting.

Now there is a core quartet one wonders if that means the band is going to get out and there and perform some gigs, and what are they going to do regarding lead singers? Given that Derek took a break from the scene for some 30 years let us hope he continues to make up for lost time and that we do not have to wait too long for the next album as this is yet another delight for all fans of classic prog.   

Kev Rowland, June 2024



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