Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Science Fiction Progressive Concept
Dave_42 | Australia | 06/13/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Metaphor's "The Sparrow" is an album based on the novel of the same name by Mary Doria Russell. This is the third release from the band, and is an intriguing one. The concept is the first mission to another inhabited planet (Rakhat), which Earth has discovered by receiving signals which are the music of that alien race. Metaphor was a group which was formed of musicians that appreciated early Genesis, with an advertisement in the Bay Area which read "Hackett seeks Banks, Rutherford, Gabriel, Collins. Object: Suppers Ready." Thus it is no surprise to find the influence of Genesis throughout this album.
The album opens with "Inquisition" which sounds almost too much like early Genesis for its own good, but fortunately the group avoids the trap of simply trying to sound like another group. The subject of the song is the report of Father Emilio Sandoz who is the lone survivor of the mission who is asked for the story, and from there he tells the whole story starting with the "Song from a Nearby Star" an instrumental piece which didn't work for me as the product of an alien race, but neither is it enough to significantly detract from the album. The group really takes on its own sound with "Deus Vult", a song which tells of the desire of Father Emilio's desire to go investigate the source of the music. "Stella Maris" is one of my favorite songs on the album, which covers the speculation about what will be found by the crew when they get there. The arrangement is wonderful and the use of an accordion works very well here, and once again the group displays that it is not just a Genesis sound-alike band.
"Death in Eden" is about the arrival and the wonders they find, until one of the crew falls sick and perishes. This is a decent song, though at over 8 minutes long it fails to keep the listener's interest. "Challalla Khaeri (Hello)" is the song about their finally meeting the aliens (Runa), but as it turns out not the one's they came to find. At over 11 minutes, this is the longest song on the album, but it is far more listenable than the previous piece due to some wonderful guitar work and a much more complex arrangement. "Garden Building" is another instrumental piece, and though more interesting than "Song from a Nearby Star" it adds little to the album as a whole.
The second half of the album opens with "Sick for What the Heart Wants" which is a slower simpler piece. This is followed by "Stranded", a piece which is a bit more complex. The next two pieces are instrumental works titled "Flower Harvest" and "We are Many and They are Few". These instrumentals are better than the first one's, but still add little to the album. Next up are "Mother Night" and "God Will Break Your Heart" which are decent songs, but the entire second half of the album is difficult to follow lyrically, and I suspect that one has to read the book to really understand the story. Even using the synopsis of the story which his part of the lyrics sheet, there are large holes in the story, and without the synopsis the songs make little sense. The album closes with the instrumental "Afterture".
Metaphor took on a large project, and it works on a few of the tracks, and in general it works for about half the album. However, it feels like they decided to cut it short; perhaps they didn't want to do a double CD release, and so ultimately this album fails in its experiment and I can only give it 3 stars because it is simply too inconsistent in its presentation. Metaphor are: Jim Anderson (bass); John Mabry (vocals); Greg Miller (drums); Malcolm Smith (guitars); Marc Spooner (keyboards).