Review – Lee Abraham – Comatose – by Kevin Thompson

So how does one of your favourite guitarists improve on his previous excellent releases?

How about making it a concept album?

What if it’s all one track?

Hmm, let’s see shall we……

The haunting beep of a life support machine with mourning guitar introduces us to ‘Numb-Pt 1’. Wait…I thought this was all one track you cry! It is, just divided into the sum of it’s parts. Heavier guitar portents doom, the sound of traffic, impatient car horns as keyboards lead us to the crash and burn, sirens wail in desperation as the ambulance flies to save. The bright lights and guitar screams of tearing metal, the acrid smell and fumes from burning fuel.

I’m in a bed, white walls, connected to machines, whispered voices round me. I feel the sharp jab of a needle as it sinks into my arm and a cold numbness creeps through me, as ‘Realisation’ dawns on me, I’ve been in an accident. Same old routine, stuck in traffic, patience frayed around the edges. The voice in my head warned me, heedlessly, to slow down as I found the open road and pushed my foot to the metal. Bright lights, wet road surface and the ‘Twisted Metal’ foretold with the lyrics see me undone.

A feeling of detachment from reality probably due to the medication allows me to watch my body rise up towards a glow above my bed as I ‘Ascend The Sky’. Am I dying, is this my final journey accompanied by a chorus of angelic voices and uplifting chords? I never imagined the trip to be an upward one. A bell tolls though it doesn’t seem a death knell, more a calling as I float in the air, calm and relaxed in ‘The Sun’. I remember the days spent with you, laid in a field watching light clouds trace paths across the sky whilst we basked in the warmth and I reveled in your soft kisses.

Will I ever know those feelings again? I never meant this to happen, what wouldn’t I give to kiss you one more time. Elation dies and once again I am left feeling ‘Numb-Pt2’. Cruelly the music rips the memory from me and the sky blackens with clouds of drums and rumbles of bass gathering in a menacing armada, as I am tossed and turned by swirling keyboards and pummeled by driving guitar.

There is a stillness and I am surrounded by white, hot light, cloying and burning my throat. Am I nearing the end, is there no retribution as I reach in my mind for a chance of escape above the wailing guitar solo, whilst in reality I lay ‘Comatose’ and helpless to my fate .I can hear the wheezing, asthmatic rasp of the bellows on the breathing apparatus, accompanied by the dull beep of the monitors connected to me whilst a piano counts the beats of my fluttering heart. Does this mean I will survive and ‘Awaken’ from my nightmare to find you sat at my bedside holding my hand. A stirring guitar solo reaches for the heavens, am I saved? I stand detached once more, at the end of the bed looking at myself hope rising with the words from the voice in my head.

A dramatic finale as the music explodes to an end, at which moment everything goes black and silent. No! What is happening, don’t leave me here. Has my body woken and in doing so discarded my corporeal self to the unknown?

Does our protagonist survive, is he given a second chance at life with the opportunity to mend his ways and live as a better man? That decision is left up to the individual listener to decide.

So, how does Lee Abraham, from one of my favourite bands, improve on his quality back catalogue?

Firstly, inviting Marc Atkinson, one of the best vocalists around to sing on the album, a stroke of genius. Vastly underrated and oozing all the emotion required for such a story, Marc’s silky larynx matches all the challenges of being the storyteller here, an astute choice by Mr Abraham to present his wonderful lyrics.

Yet more enlightened choices regarding the musicians on board, bringing back the force de majeure on drums that is Gerald Mulligan and the wizard of the keys on piano, Mr Rob Arnold. Lee takes up the bass duties, as well as blessing our eardrums with some beautiful guitar work, that lingers long in your head, after the album closes.

I’m of a mind to leave the ending ambiguous as I like the idea this story could continue so I don’t want to know what happens to our subject. What I do know is that I consider ‘Comatose’ to be an excellent album, that holds the top spot in my listening catalogue at the moment fighting off all contenders.

Whilst I resist making lists of favourites, if I did, ‘Comatose’ would be among this years best releases for me and in my humble opinion is Lee’s finest release to date.

Oh, listen to me blathering on, it’s finished, where’s that replay button…

Released 27th September 2019


Order from Progrock.co.uk:

http://www.progrock.co.uk/abraham-lee-comatose-c2x29679667

Cover image courtesy of Rob Arnold

Citizen Cain’s Stewart Bell presents The Antechamber Of Being (PART TWO)

F2 Music have announced that they are the exclusive worldwide distributor of the second solo CD by Citizen Cain’s keyboard player Stewart Bell. The album, called “The Antechamber Of Being (Part 2) – Stories From The Antechamber” is released on 27/02/2017 and is a Prog Rock opera featuring contributions from five vocalists; Simone Rossetti (of The Watch), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (of Ayreon), Phil Allen (of Citizen Cain), Bekah Mhairi Comrie and Stewart Bell himself. Each of the vocalists play a different character in the story.

In this second part of Stewart Bell’s epic trilogy of concept albums we are once again taken on a journey through the inner realms alongside the main character, The Dreamer and his mentor, The Teacher. Taking place during the same time period as ‘The Antechamber Of Being (Part 1)’, which was released in 2014, the story follows the main characters as they continue to explore the amazing experiences made possible through lucid dreaming; the weird phenomena inherent with this type of conscious exploration of one’s mind; the questions that arise through encounters with seemingly independent dream beings and; the realisations and conclusions that are ultimately reached after a lifetime of dreaming awake.

Stewart has been the main composer/ keys player in long running progressive rock band Citizen Cain since the early 90s, and in 2012 he decided to pursue a solo career, starting work on a trilogy of concept albums entitled The Antechamber Of Being. The story is autobiographical and is based on Stewart’s lifelong experiences with lucid dreaming – which is something he learned at 6 years old, when his older brother taught him how to be aware while he was asleep and dreaming in order to help him overcome recurring nightmares.

This will appeal not only to existing Citizen Cain fans but also to a much wider audience as Stewart continues to delve into elements of Prog metal, experiments with new soundscapes and brings his unique storytelling gift to the lyrics, in which he also shares his extensive knowledge of lucid dreaming. It will be sure to please any lover of progressive music while the intriguing, amusing and, at times, touching storyline may even inspire the listener to take control of their own subconscious mind and experience lucid dreaming for themselves…

There’s a limited special edition artbook version of the album and digital download also available from the Citzen Cain website here:

Stewart Bell – The Antechamber of Being Part 2 Limited Edition

And don’t forget, Part 1 of the trilogy is still available exclusively from F2 Music Ltd…