Review – Azure – Of Brine And Angel’s Beaks – by John Wenlock-Smith

‘Of Brine And Angels Beaks’ is the second album from UK proggers Azure, who hail from Brighton and the South East of England. The album was Released in June 2021 after a period of lockdown and is the follow up to their debut ‘Wish For Spring’ that followed a few EP’s and singles like Redtail, a twenty minute progressive love song, and the shorter single Mistress that garnered wide acclaim for the band.

This album continues to mix hard edged progressive metal with fantasy elements (especially in the lyrics) and, over the course of its twelve songs and its sixty-three minute running time, many tales are told and worked upon. The music also includes lots of synthesizers, a modern clean production and lots of staggering guitar work from Galen Stapley, who can shred with the best of them, as eviced on his highly fluid and furious solo on the track Self-Crucifixion. The vocals of Christopher Sampson are very different and tend to verge wonderfully on the side of operatic, think Freddie Mercury on helium and you’d be in the right area. Thankfully they are highly listenable, no death metal growling here!

A Night Of Superlunary Gazing opens the album with one minute of almost psychedelic, fantastical music before Ameotoko 1 – The Curse drives in with some delicate arpeggio guitar lines and soft vocals, after about four minutes the song gains some traction and some pace, there are some strident keyboards runs in this section too. This is followed by the upbeat and excellent sounding The Jester Who Cheated Death and the fantastical Lustre – Siphon of Umbra, the former opening with what sounds like a marimba but isn’t. The song has great lyrics and lots happening musically, including some great guitar from Galen, along with some great dual harmonies. The song is a sorter one by Azure standards but certainly packs a punch. Lustre is a mellow, but hard edged, classic and one of the best songs on the album with great vocal harmonies and crunching, soaring guitars, it grabs your attention and holds on, a powerful piece of music.

Outrun God is next and, again, this starts gently but soon gains momentum. The song also has a highly impressive refrain that will stay with you long after it has finished, highly impressive Stuff. Mercy follows with very some very heavy guitar and epic synth work, along with driving beat that really gets under your skin in a positive way. 

Of Brine and Angels Beaks opens with strong keyboard textures and a low bass from Bella Lee and some kick from Sam Calder on the drums. The song is slower paced but very dramatic, with some excellent vocals from Chris in among the strident riffing from Galen. The middle section really rocks with lots of effects being used to process the sound effectively. Again, a very strong chorus and, indeed, song which strong metallic elements to the fore. The song is quite dark in nature, especially in the lyrics. It talks a lot about death and the passing of time, the bass is prominent here and sounds impressive too.

A Sailor Will Learn is next and starts softly, although the vocals are certainly impassioned, after which we enter a heavy section with Galen’s furious guitar riffs adding great dynamics to this song. There is yet another memorable chorus and some more dual guitars tracked that give the melody a lift, after the chorus there’s a furious section with some frantic guitar parts and great solo before thunderous drums lead to more riffing guitars. The keyboards take over before leading back into vocals, although taken at pace. This is one of the strongest and most imaginative tracks on the album, simply fabulous and with a great solo towards the end. The subject matter is dark again but what a song! Fabulously inventive and invigorating.

Cup Of Poison is another lengthy and epic piece, opening with some graceful guitar lines as the song builds its momentum. The track is epic in nature and tone, with lovely graceful, fluid guitar lines. It’s all highly impressive, musically diverse and bravely bold. Not afraid to be different, not for show but because the songs merit it. This song also contains elements of Celtic music touches which add to its magic and dynamics. In fact, the whole album is full of dynamic touches, you’re listening and then it all changes abruptly but in a positive direction. The Jellyfish is a shorter track with excellent keyboard programming and a definite 80’s touch to it. Lyrically, the song is simply weird, talking about living on a self-made raft and longing for a different life.

The album closes with Ameotoko II – Cloudburst, which is ferocious and hard hitting and, once again, has disturbingly dark lyrics about killing and death but fabulous music. There’s lots going on here and it’s never a dull moment, before you know it you’ve reached the end and are left wondering what the hell you’ve just listened to? Before you know it, you’ll be playing the album again, just to try and grasp it all a new. Such an impressive album that will stay with you long after it’s finished.

I’ve added a link to the lyrics as I feel following them will aid in understanding and appreciating this fine album, I know it certainly helped me get the gist of it all.

Released 11th June, 2021

Order the album here:

Of Brine And Angel’s Beaks | Azure (bandcamp.com)

Find the lyrics here:

Azure (prog rock) – Of Brine And Angel’s Beaks Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.