It’s like the flip of a coin: heads—get a great singer with mediocre backup; tails—great overall band, mediocre singer, or a singer with an identity crisis. These are two issues of many which may plague a new band’s freshman release. Enter Jack Yello, the latest quintet to have assimilated the repertoires of Genesis, Marillion, and even IQ & Arena. Vocalist Dirk Bovensiepen's borrowing of Peter Gabriel's vocal cords and style is miniscule compared to how much he borrows from Peter Nicholls and Fish—Fish with mucho mas warbling, one must add. Dirk has made his interpretation of Fish’s delivery almost a science. On this very polished production is many a Rothery guitar lead from Lutz Grosser, and many a Banks/Nolan/Orford-ism from Uwe Ziegler. Hence, not a morsel of originality is unwrapped on Thorns Of Anger.
As stated, this is a very polished, professional recording, and FishMarillion lovers may just eat this up. “Shadows Of A Nightingale” isn’t a bad song, very reminiscent (just not as good) of Arena’s first album, and includes the lyric, Who’ll fight in the Arena (as if that should be a surprise). “Game Show” is uncharacteristic of the neo formula, in the instrumental sense: Grosser cranks up his guitar amp, and bassist Dirk Hülpert pockets some nimble-fingered licks; the instrumental break at 3:40 is nice if formulaic. “The Unknown Soldier” is the fourth and best track; the digital Rhodes intro and some nice synth leads by Uwe, plus a tastefully restrained groove, partially compensate for other, less-savory moments (decent lyrics, as well, save the Friends will be friends will be friends will be friends line, which should have been axed).
”The Old Warrior” sees Bovensiepen in his heavy-metal vocalist digs, and it’s not a pretty sight, er, sound. The odd-time sig outro (sans vox) is tasty, as the similarly quasi-prog metal intro to “The Bridge” suggests what the Yellos may be capable of. The final cut, “Faces To Faces” (not transcribed in the booklet) is a wholly unnecessary ninety-second endcap which only tosses a few more briquettes to A Hearth Called Predictable after the lighter fluid has been depleted.
A couple of recommendations: for Round Deux, don’t try to sound like FishNicholls so much, and let the band burn some of that Anger on their own. Instrumentals is what they call ‘em. The players certainly have the muscle. Now for initiative.
Editor's note: Jack Yello have recently signed on with the new Prog Rock Records here in the US.