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This is Quite Wonderful - 95%

dannyrocks, July 10th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1986, 3 vinyls, Htw (Limited Edition)

This is a triple album that lasts around 2 hours and 40 minutes. That's a very long triple album. That's a very long debut album from a band you might have never heard of. But, it's a wonderful album.

In 2006, I bought the Heavy The World 6-CD boxset Unforgotten Worlds at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. The set was on the shelf for a while and it was intriguing. I picked it up and I loved it. 1981-2003 it proclaimed! It has a huge booklet and all sorts of extras and it was a band I had never, ever heard of. Since I bought it, I have listened to it about once a month. In 2018, I got a copy of their super-rare debut album Runes. I'm so glad I finally found it and that I didn't have to spend a zillion dollars on it...

It's a hard-rock, bordering on early 1980s heavy metal, vibe throughout. They are very prog rock influenced, with one of the tracks being an excerpt from ELP's Tarkus. The songs range from about 3 minutes to 18 minutes. Sides 2 and 3 consist of two songs each. The sides are around 27-ish minutes each. There is a huge sense of over-indulgence on the album. But, as we've never really encountered the band before, I think that's OK.

The album begins with their signature song "Flying Castles". It proceeds through rock, hard rock, blues, heavy metal, prog rock and all sorts of genres. Most of the album is guitar/ bass/ drums/ vocals. Early on, there is flute and some keyboards but those fade as the album goes along. It's mostly power trio. But, it's rather low-fi power trio. The occasional bum note pops up. I can't argue though. I think it's a joy. This is a band that released a 160 minute debut album. They went full out. The super long song is "Nature Song." It's 18 minutes. Its theme is related to Rush's 2112. But, it's doing something different. And I think it works.

Being a triple album that's longer than The Clash's "Sandinista!" means it isn't really a single sitting album. By time I get around the end of the third side/ start of the fourth, I start to zone out. Go side by side when you listen. "U-V Jazz" is a fun blues track. About an hour later, they do another lengthy blues track. If you're listening through, it's a bit too repetitive. Taken side by side, it works. So, please, give the album some breathing room. DO NOT listen all at once. Because by time you get two hours in, it will sound like endless power trio meandering. Taken side by side, the album is really incredibly good. I didn't give it 100% because a full listen does do that for me.

I would love to talk for ages about this album. I will stop here and say... if you are interested in DIY hard rock/ heavy metal from the early 1980s... and possibly low-fi neo-prog means something to you... and just good playing and good tunes excite you, hunt this album down. It is too much. But, that's our problem. Not theirs.