Exposé Online banner

Stealing the Fire — King of Shadows
(Bandcamp no#, 2020, DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-10-02

King of Shadows Cover art

21 years ago in 1999 we received a promo CD from a British trio called Stealing the Fire; the title was Hot Ice and Wondrous Strange Snow, an ambitious slab of neo-progressive that compared favorably to bands like iQ, Jadis, and similar groups of the day. Well, all these years have passed and the band – same three members – have finally released their second album, King of Shadows. While two decades have ensued, Stealing the Fire has stuck to their guns and still plays a style that echoes what they did on their debut, now they just do it much better. Five long tracks, the shortest is close to nine minutes, the longerst nearly nineteen, each a cornucopia of shifting meter, colorful melodies and unusual compositional ideas in epic form. The band is Tim Lane (guitars, bass, keyboards, and compositions), Chris Bond (keyboards, electronics, and lyrics) and Saffron Paffron (vocals); in addition there are half a dozen guests including drummer Gary Wortley, who plays throughout, and several others who contribute lead vocals, flute, piano, and voices to this track or that. The title track opens the set, a beefy ten-minute rocker with breaks for flute solos, guitar elaborations, and more on the opening end, the vocals don’t even start until three minutes in, then it’s more shifting, twisting, and convolution, sometimes with vocals and sometimes through purely instrumental sections, eventually finding a way to the song’s conclusion. Fading in slowly, “Medusa” erupts into rock with Saffron’s vocals leading the way through a more conventional song structure until the midpoint, where things start shifting around, slowing down, and making way for some symphonic elements and keyboard and guitar soloing. “The Tower” is the final cut and the nineteen-minute monster on the album, interesting vocal passages intertwine with searing guitar backing textures, sudden shifts of pace, crunchy organ riffage, and impressive soloing all the way along its lengthy path. While the production on King of Shadows is decidedly more contemporary than its predecessor, there is a lot of excellence to be found everywhere throughout its five tracks.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Stealing the Fire

More info

Latest news

Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Zao - Z=7L – For those not familiar with Zao, they were the first true Magma spin-off band, formed by reedsman Yochk'o Seffer and pianist Francois "Faton" Cahen, at a time when their creative role within that band...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Premier of New Echo Us Video

From the press release:

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.

“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.

“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)

As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.

Print issues