A personal view on music, all kinds of music.
Artist: Panic Room
Label: Esoterrica Antenna/Cherry Records
Thoughts: Panic Room is a fairly new band from the United Kingdom formed around 2005. When I was approached to review their newest album called Skin (2012), I have to say that I had some concerns. I am very open to mostly any kind of music, especially when it comes to Progressive Rock, but the name of Anne-Marie Helder, their vocalist, brings me some mixed feelings. I knew her from bands like Karnataka and Mostly Autumn and these bands are quiet weak when it comes to Progressive Rock. They have light influence by the genre and a lot of Pop Rock. Don’t get me wrong, I like good Pop Rock a lot but not when it is sold as Progressive Rock.
But I decided not to pay attention to that and listen to the album with care. Skin (2012) was recorded in the Sonic One studio and mastered at Close To The Edge. The album had Tim Hamill as mixer and engineer and it was produced by members of the band: Anne-Marie Helder (vocals and guitars), Jonathan Edwards (keyboards and guitars) and Tim Hamill. The band’s line-up included also Paul Davies (guitars), Gavin John Griffiths (drums) and Yatim Halimi (bass). Skin (2012) was released by Esoteric Antenna/Cherry Red Records in June.
When ‘Song For Tomorrow’ starts, the pop accent I was worried about is shown and it continues on the second track ‘Chameleon’. But to tell the truth, it is a minor thing. Both songs are well written and catchy, including wonderful pianos and vocals. Anne-Marie Helder was elected in 2011 as Best Female Vocalist by the Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine and listening to this songs you understand why.
But at the same time tracks like ‘Chances’ almost ruin everything. It is Pop and with no trace of interesting parts, just chorus repeating endlessly. Another one like this is ‘Freefalling’ that begins acoustic and pretty and soon turns out to be a semi electronic piece of music, which doesn’t make sense at all.
But the Prog moments are what makes the band shine. Like on the third track ‘Screens’, or ‘Tightrope Walking’ with the indian mysterious feeling, a good riff and The Larkin Quartet performing on it. All of it make it a great track. They should have used strings in more tracks. ‘Hiding The World’ and the last track, ‘Nocturnal’ are another good moments on the album. The former has great vocals by Anne-Marie Helder. Unfortunately, there are few moments like these on Skin (2012), not even half of the album.
In the end, what makes me worried before listening to the album turns out to be a fact. Panic Room is a very nice band but not really Progressive Rock. They belong to the subgenre that some call Crossover Prog.
The album is quite fine and enjoyable as a whole but the problem here is that they’re not Pop enough to be called Pop and not Prog enough to be called Prog, if you know what I mean. This road was travelled before by many bands (as with the new album by the Polish band Quidam) and the result is always the same. They don’t have good audience in both sides of the spectrum. It is very hard to please Prog lovers with Pop and vice-versa.
The truth is, if you like to have light Prog music that’s not intricate or complex, this is the perfect band/album for you. But if you’re looking for some listening challenges… you’ll not find them here.
1. Song For Tomorrow – 6’13
2. Chameleon – 6’52
3. Screens – 4’43
4. Chances – 5’54
5. Tightrope Walking – 7’09
6. Promises – 5’24
7. Velvet & Stars – 3’15
8. Freefalling – 6’12
9. Skin – 5’19
10. Hiding The World – 5’19
11.Nocturnal – 7’43