Supernal Sky 2New Christian prog that shows classic rock influences along with traces of Morse, Transatlantic, Glass Hammer and ...Petra?

Touch The Sky: Volume II
Artist: Supernal Endgame
10t Records
10 tracks 77:29

"Being or coming from on high; of, or relating to, the heavens..." okay, so I gave in and looked up the meaning of Supernal. It fits. Supernal Endgame creates their own very special brand of music for the more spiritually-minded prog fan – especially if that spiritual bent is specifically Christian in orientation. This is not to say that Touch The Sky: Volume II won't appeal to a wider, more secular audience – there's certainly enough legitimately 'proggy' sounds going down on this album to earn the respect - as well as the attention – of any fan of Yes, Dream Theater, or Genesis .

Certainly, Supernal Endgame belongs in the same class as Neal Morse, Transatlantic, or Kansas, as the opening instrumental, "Supernal One (Imminence and Transcendence)," attests. There are less individual solo journeys than on a Yes song and more of a feeling of a total group effort – closer in spirit to Glass Hammer but less tied to a theme or narrative concept.

The first vocal track, "Different Stage," an eleven and a-half minute opus carries on that Morse/Transatlantic vibe with strong lead vocals, rich harmonies, skilful tempo changes (especially around the eight minute mark) and impressive instrumental work by all. The guitars are crisp and evocative, the bass is sturdy and powerful, the drumming is impressively articulate without overkill, and the keys and synths (which, in this song at least, are sonically similar to what Zappa's keyboard man was doing in the eighties) are important texturally and impressive in solo mode throughout .

At just over five minutes, "Again and Again," not only shows that the band can produce a hooky pop-friendly tune that could fit on any savvy-enough CCM format, but that 'praise and worship' can be done with musical integrity – maybe this could be called 'prog and worship' – same initials, at least.

Things get a little jazzier on "Eden's Song," which ends with some very stylish, classy guitar lines. "S.O.S." follows with some of that Prog and Worship and a more traditional song structure and what sounds like the introduction of an alternate vocalist sounding very much like England's Haydon Spenceley (Freeslave, Ghostree).

An acoustic guitar intro brings us to the Eastern-influenced "Immutable," a song that points to either an accidental or intentional debt to the Greg X. Volz-era Petra vocal style - complete with signature harmony parts. This might be purely coincidental, but it will bring the more seasoned Christian music fan back to those early days – of course, Petra rarely, if ever, achieved the kind of fiery guitar work that you'll hear at the end of this track. There's a similar display of massive prog chops on the breaks in the following ten minute epic, "White Flag" - fine playing by all!

By now you get the idea – Supernal Endgame brings a lot to the table on this project. Without detailing each and every track, highlights include a stunning Dave Bainbridge guitar solo on the Celtic-leaning "Ocean of Love," a pair of delightful short instrumental tracks and glorious 'postlude' to the album – the final piece, "The Endgame."

The responsible parties are Rob Price: Primary lead and backing vocals, drums, percussion, loops, and keys; John Eargle: Electric, acoustic, and synthesized guitars, keyboards, loops, bass, mandolin, secondary lead and backing vocals; Tom More: Bass guitar, keys, midi pedals, backing vocals; Jett Cheek: Keyboards, backing vocals; John Crafton: Electric, Acoustic, and Classical Guitars, backing vocals. Also playing violin on various tracks are: Nigel Deane, Rene Orth, Randy Lyle, Brad Bibbs, and Katie Price. Anna Price also guested on cello for "Endgame."

This is a really fine effort, which perhaps could only be improved by a deeper mix with more mid-range and bottom to the sound. Certainly, if you're a fan of Neal Morse, Glass Hammer and Transatlantic you need to look into Supernal Endgame.
...and if you ever wondered what Greg X Volz would sound like fronting a Christian prog band this might satisfy your curiosity.

Bert Saraco

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