Arthur Offen - Seven Wonders

EricEric USA
edited July 30 in year-2016

One of the best and alluring prog artists going around, Air Raid and Flag maestro Arthur Offen.

Arthur Offen - Seven Wonders
ARTIST: Arthur Offen
ALBUM: Seven Wonders
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 2016
SPONSOR: Arthur Offen

LINEUP: Arthur Offen - vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, piano, orchestrations * Rick Hinkle - acoustic & electric guitars, steel guitar, mandolin, ukulele, keyboards * Spencer Kilpatrick - guitars * Jimmy Porter - drums * Chris Cornish - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING:01 Into The Great Beyond * 02 Temple Giant * 03 The High Road * 04 The Last Invasion * 05 T'was Meant To Be * 06 Wearin' That Crown * 07 Grail Cycle * a) The Holy Grail, b) The Race To The Sea, c) Avalon, d) My Larkin, e) The Voyage Home, f) Canon Call, 08 Seven Wonders

RATING: Score=80%


The 1981 Air Raid debut was great. It just was, and even though they received a small amount of FM airplay and opened shows for some of the biggest names of the day, they lacked serious management to push them in the right direction and into the big leagues.

A tale as old as time really and one we've heard over and over again, but Air Raid main man Arthur Offen has persevered over the last three and half decades, offering up a trio of excellent pomp albums under the Flag moniker and now under his own name - 'Seven Wonders'.

The Songs

First of all, the impressive cover art is square in the progressive rock tradition. Very dramatic and colorful and his admiration for Yes, Procol Harum and the Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna axis come through not only visually, but poetically and musically as well.

Yet despite his influences, the Georgia based musician creates a sound that's very much his own, similar to Flag but with a sparser, stripped-down orchestral approach helped by a couple familiar names including Air Raid band mate Rick Hinkle who is all over the album, plus engineer Tom Waltz who worked his magic for the Eddie Kramer produced debut. Does it work? Yes, there are some fine moments here. 'Into The Great Beyond' opens the album with a lovely mandolin intro which quickly spirals into a pomp lover's dream with cathedral-like keyboard spires and a driving riff.

The dark 'Temple Giants' has a heavier feel recalling Steinhardt-Moon while 'The High Road' reminds me of the 1994 Kerry Livgren disc 'When Things Get Electric' and not surprisingly there's some 'Leftoverture' era Kansas peppering the set as well.

'T'was Meant To Be' sounds like classic Air Raid and nothing wrong with that but the next two tracks based on the 'King Arthur' story, 'Wearin' That Crown' and the disc's cornerstone 'Grail Cycle' that are of most interest. It has to be said; Offen's lyrics are a joy to behold with an Al Stewart-like sense of history and a fantastical wonder and hope found on those early Yes albums.

Written by Offen on grand piano and Hinkle on Les Paul; 'Grail Cycle' throws it all together with much pomp and circumstance including, thunderstorms, pipes, some fun Jethro Tull inspired bits plus a dash of Queen. And as the title track closes the curtain with weaving keyboard runs covered in a lyrical veil of ancient Babylonian, Greek and Egyptian imagery; its clear prog rock is alive and well in the American South.

In Summary

I hope there is more to come from Arthur, some Flag reissues possibly and more new music. 'Seven Wonders' will satisfy even the most jaded pop/prog fan. Buy.

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