Band: Twisted Illusion
Album: Excite The Light Part 1
Release Date: June, 2018
Label: Self Released
Review by John
On the back of a highly succesful pledge campaign, Manchester rockers Twisted Illusion bring us their third (or, some might say fourth – even the title is a play on that of the legendary “lost demo”) album. Following on from last year’s epic double album ‘Insight To The Mind Of A Milion Faces’, this is the first offering from a planned trilogy of releases over the next 12 months.
Things get off to a good start with the title track ‘Excite The Light’, and the first impression is that Twisted Illusion suddenly got heavy. And not in the “too much KFC” sense. With its Maidenesque guitar flourishes married perfectly to frontman Matt Jones’ intense vocals, and a chorus that will set up home comfortably in your ears, this is one of those songs that you can’t wait to hear performed in the live arena.
‘No Compromise’ is a reworking of an early track, which builds from gentle openings and, by the time we reach the Herculean chorus, becomes an unstoppable juggernaut of a song that gets the feet tapping and the head banging. Particular credit goes to drummer Matt McDade, as he holds everything together with unnerving precision. As an immense solo brings ‘No Compromise’ to an end, the jaunty segue into ‘High & Low’ comes as something of a surprise. Its bouncy rhythm and slightly pop punk feel bring to mind some of the early work of 3 Colours Red, and the chorus is designed to be sung along with at the very top of your voice. Probably the most commercial offering here, it is also, despite still being a perfectly fine track in its own right, the weakest on offer here. That said, it is insanely catchy, and sees bassist Mark Wagstaff shine through in the impressive outro, which sounds almost like Steve Vai and Devin Townsend having a guitar wrestle while Brian May adjudicates.
‘Medicated Society’ is a beautiful delivered anthem to those struggling with their own inner demons, whilst being ignored when they most need our support. Deeply personal, and never in danger of crossing over into preachy self pity, Jones’ more restrained delivery here is brilliantly done and once again, the mix is almost perfect, with the contribution of each member of the band noticeable.
Originally released as a single last year in support of the Mearfest charity, ‘Molly’s Smile’ is an undeniably extraordinary piece of songwriting. The heartbreak of losing a child is not an easy thing to convey, especially as here when based on a real life tragedy, but this is damn near perfection. The haunting, almost angelic vocals of bassist Wagstaff provide a perfect counterpoint to Jones’ more dynamic delivery. Musically it builds to an almost soaring crescendo while lyrically it is genuinely moving. One of those songs that has the power to bring the listener to tears.
Then we come to album closer ‘Twisted Illusion’, possibly the most deeply personal song in the bands catalogue. The song itself is, while not quite matching the ambition of the title track from ‘Insight’ is another epic scale progressive rock masterpiece, as Jones once again opens up to the audience with a no punches pulled recollection of his own far from happy upbringing. Moving seamlessly between moods seemingly on a whim, with the restrained opening exploding into majestic life. The mid section is reminiscent of Rush in their heyday and the finale features some of Jones’ and Steve Revier’s best guitar work as we soar gracefully to the incredible climax.
Topping their previous offering was always going to be a big ask and, at this early stage, I’m not quite sure whether they have managed this, but what cannot be denied is that they have gone some way towards at least matching it.If you like your rock music to be both mature and challenging then you need to be adding this to your collection.
Here’s hoping the remainder of the trilogy can keep up the high standard on offer here.
1. Excite The Light
2. No Compromise
3. High & Low
4. Medicated Society
5. Molly’s Smile
6. Twisted Illusion
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OfficialTIband
Available now via Pledge: www.pledgemusic.com/projects/excitethelightpart1