I´d like to start things off with something that I have been hiding for a long time. A shameful secret that has been simmering and festering in that black empty void that I call my brain.
I am a heretic.
There… I said it.
It is quite a relief to have this off my chest actually. There´s just something about Alex Lifeson´s guitarplaying that rubs me the wrong way. So strip me of my prog privileges (including nitpicking, obsessing about random details in 45 year old songs and nagging about how everything was better when Gabriel was still fronting Genesis) while I prepare for the backlash fit for someone that is not a huge fan of Rush but really should be.
I´m sorry! I´m so, so sorry!
And the reason for this confession of prog-sins is that the record that I´m writing about has a lot of Rush influences and I would maybe give this an even higher rating if I was a bigger fan of the Canadian power trio. And Great Wide Nothing just happens to be a three piece as well although it at times sounds like there is a seven man ensamble playing. Don´t get me wrong though as this is a good record and should be treated as such, regardless of this writers failings. Again: I´m so sorry. I will ritually remove the tattoo of “Tales From Topographic Oceans” from my torso with a flame thrower all while inciting the Prog Lords prayer: “The Holy Incantation of Supper´s Ready in The Temples of Syrinx (Part I – VIII)”.
Great Wide Nothing hails from Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S and “Hymns For The Hungry Spirit Vol. I” is their sophomore album, their first being “The View From Olympus” from 2019. Taking their influences from Kansas, ELP, Pink Floyd and the aforementioned Rush and molding this blend into something quite interesting and vital. Steeped in nostalgia but with a modern twist, Great Wide Nothing´s material is both inspired, familiar but original enough to be worth your while. With virtuoso performances all around, the instrumentation and arrangements are all very good and I like the somewhat retro sounding, warm production. The keyboard solos in “Stars Apart” sounds like Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson desparately duelling and is a highlight among many. Others include the vibrant opener “To Find The Light, Part I” and the epic, yet poppy strut of “Superhero”.
This is a fine album that deserves all the attention it can get and so do support the independent prog rock scene in general and Great Wide Nothing in particular by giving them a spin on Spotify and preferably buying their records directly from the band (links below). Recommended!
Artist: Great Wide Nothing
Title: Hymns For Hungry Spirits Vol. I
Label: Independent release
Playing Time: 41 minutes
Date of release: 2020-11-07
Place of origin: USA
Standout tracks: The Best We Can Do Is Laugh, To Find The Light Part I, Stars Apart