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Ovrfwrd — Beyond the Visible Light
((Not on label) 789577722323, 2013, CD)

by Paul Hightower, 2014-04-19:

Beyond the Visible Light Cover art For a debut effort Ovrfwrd are off to a good start. This young quartet from Minneapolis specializes in energetic progressive rock instrumentals with the emphasis on tight interplay and heavy duty riffing, somewhat reminiscent of Rush although a better point of comparison might be bands like Osada Vida or Liquid Tension Experiment. Drummer Rikki Davenport and bassist Kyle Lund perform admirably, though guitarist Mark Ilaug and keyboard player Chris Malmgren are really the core of the band’s sound. Each displays a wide range of styles that are used to good effect on these five tracks. Each song is lengthy, ranging from eight to over 11 minutes, the arrangement propelled by varying the instrumental textures and by using the age-old prog rock tropes of dynamics, meter and tempo. Ilaug’s PRS electric guitar work leans heavily on indie rock grinding and heavy metal distortion, though he wisely provides relief by occasionally switching to a clean, ringing tone or even the warmth of an acoustic guitar. Malmgren’s playing encompasses organ, strings, and synths but he almost seems more at home on plain old piano. Here is where Ovrfwrd forges something approaching a unique identity, as seen on the songs “The Man with No Shoes” and “Darkest Star.” Their chops are impressive, but I’m not sure this is a band that could ever dethrone Kenso when it comes to instrumental prog. But when acoustic elegance collides with the ballsy rock they’re in a space all their own.

by Henry Schneider, 2014-06-09:

Ovrfwrd is another new US band playing intelligent and complex instrumental progressive rock. Hailing from Minneapolis,MN, the four seasoned musicians are Rikki Davenport (drums), Mark Ilaug (guitar), Kyle Lund (bass), and Chris Malmgren (keyboards). Beyond the Visible Light is their debut release containing five varied tunes that showcase the strengths of each musician. Most of the tunes have multiple movements and shifts in rhythm and emotion. The quality of the music is superb and what you would expect from a mature band. Their music brings together elements of jazz, heavy metal, and progressive rock to create an enjoyable listening experience without resorting to dissonance and or aggressive metal antics. The first song, “Can We Keep the Elephant,” has an engaging rhythm with many different hard prog rock changes. “Stones of Temperance” begins with a piano intro in the lower keys that brings an eerie vibe that is later replaced by some beautiful acoustic guitar work. The third, “Raviji,” has mid-Eastern sound with many fantastic guitar solos. It is not until we reach the fourth track “The Man with No Shoes” that I detect the heavy metal influence in the aggressive bass line, which is a great accompaniment to the jazz and hard rock elements. And the disc closes with “Darkest Star,” a very busy track. Beyond the Visible Light is quite an impressive debut release.

by Jon Davis, 2014-10-09:

If I were the kind of writer who likes to grab attention by making provocative statements right off the bat, I'd probably start out this review with "Originality is overrated." A lot of fans of progressive rock fetishize originality and criticize new bands for not breaking new ground. What does this even mean? It seems petty to criticize Brahms for just rewriting Beethoven's work, and ignores Brahms' own innovations. And what does "overrated" even mean? Case in point is this Minneapolis band. It's instrumental progressive rock, and features a lot of the genre staples, like extended multi-section compositions, odd meters, tempo changes, vintage keyboard sounds, polyphonic arrangements, and so on. But these elements are put together in ways not quite like any previous progressive rock, and the melodies and chords are new. In any case, Ovrfwrd gives the impression of being firmly in the tradition without being slavishly derivative, which shows in the fact that I can't think of a specific band from the 70s they most resemble. What it really comes down is that the compositions are really excellent, and I'll happily rank them among the best current American prog bands.

Filed under: New releases , 2013 releases

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