Review – Great Wide Nothing – Hymns for Hungry Spirits, Vol. II – by John Wenlock-Smith

Great Wide Nothing are a progressive punk rock band who hail from Atlanta, Georgia, USA and while you can hear punk in their anger, the music they offer is classic Neo Prog. They cite Coheed and Cambria, Thrice, Muse, Marillion, Depeche Mode, Deep Purple and The Cure among their very varied influences. Some interesting choices, really diverse and yet all these groups appear in their sound to some degree, acceptably some more than others. Although, once again, the band are entirely new to me, so I come to this album without any expectations and I find myself pleasantly surprised and satisfied by what I discover here.

This album has just five tracks but they are all strong ones, starting with Blind Eye To A Burning House, a song that nods it’s head firmly to Rush and one that laments the world’s indifference and inability to grasp and resolve climate change in any meaningful and sincere way. The music the trio make is strong and agreeable with lots of power but also with a subtle lightness of touch where required. There are also great performances from all members and the writing is strong and purposeful, really making an impact. The production is also very good with clear vocals and strong instrumentation. The song has an urgency that is mirrored in it lyrics as it belts along at a fair clip and I can hear elements of Saga in the vocals. This opening track shows how effective the band are, highly talented and musically adept with a really strong sound and distinctive vocals. It is an excellent piece that certainly grabs the attention with a good synth solo and a very memorable chorus, overall an excellent opening statement from the band.

We then move onto a shorter song, The Portal And The Precipice, hinged on an overdriven organ part which is very Deep Purple-like in tone. The track is about a failing relationship and the writer’s hope for a better outcome to it. Viper is about the abuse and trauma the writer suffered as a youth and how he has learned from it, applying resilience into the situation he experienced. Not allowing himself to be overcome by hatred and focusing on his refusal to let his abuser have any hold over him. It’s a very emotional, and ultimately, hopeful and positive response to a dreadful situation and his stance is bold and ultimately life affirming. While he understandably has anger for what has happened, he chooses that that it will not define him. He actually condemns his abuser, being free to move forward, a very dignified way of handling and resolving the conflict.

Inheritor is a song about the pandemic that we’ve all endured and survived recently. This one is an 80’s sounding track which sounds like Depeche Mode and it is a joyous celebration of life with a running guitar line throughout giving it a really upbeat feel. Highly memorable indeed, it is based on pandemic experiences and is a response to those. The final, and longest track, is To Find The Light Part Two, which lasts for just under twenty minutes. A song about the impermanence and trials of life, it is a deep, questioning existential muse on the paths life can take, yet, even in this, you will discover some rather astonishing musical passages and inspired performances. This is from what is primarily a three piece band, with excellent musical skills and compositions from Daniel Graham (bass guitars and vocals), Dylan Porper (keyboards, guitar and supporting vocals) and Jeff Matthews on drums. Together these three musicians make expansive, compelling and impressive music, above all, this is a very satisfying album offering music of substance and value.

The album is very well balanced and presented with great intelligence and is an excellent album in all. I really enjoyed it finding much to enjoy, especially the very bold and personal Viper which is emotionally raw, bare and extremely powerful music indeed. Well worth hearing for this track alone, as its such a significant and important one that deserves wider acclaim and will probably be of interest to people who have a similar tale or experience, it is really quite cathartic.

Released 20th January, 2023

Order from bandcamp here:

Hymns for Hungry Spirits, Vol. II | Great Wide Nothing (