Diagonal
Diagonal


4.0
excellent

Review

by e210013 USER (160 Reviews)
January 5th, 2021 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Diagonal plays a style of nostalgic prog. It offers an intriguing trip through the 70’s.

“Diagonal” is the debut studio album of Diagonal and was released in 2008. The line up on the album is Alex Crispin, Nicholas Richards, David Wileman, Ross Hossack, Nicholas Whittaker, Daniel Pomlett and Luke Foster. The album has also the participation of Liam Watson and Robbie Wilson as guest musicians.


Diagonal is an English progressive rock band that appeared in 2008. The band is based in Brighton and consists of seven piece musicians who include two keyboardists, two guitarists and a reeds player amongst their number. The band’s style tends less towards the more symphonic side of the genre popularised by the likes of Genesis and Yes, and more towards the more experimental, avant-garde, jazz-flavoured side. Still, the band manages to keep things pretty accessible at all times. The main influences appear to be Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, whilst heads are nodded to a variety of bands from the Canterbury scene, such as The Soft Machine. There’s also a spacey, psychedelic flavour to some of the tracks, which recalls the Syd Barrett’s era in Pink Floyd, particularly in the buildup of the songs.

Diagonal is, perhaps, the first modern U.K. band that I know which truly capture the essence, atmosphere, and sound of the original progressive rock movement from the 70’s, in England. Of course, many other groups before have come along and tried their hand at generating the sound of Yes, Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Renaissance, King Crimson, and Van der Graaf Generator, in one way or another. And while all of those groups are worthy of imitation, they only represented a fraction of the original U.K. movement. Of course, they were the ones that made the big time, so it’s understandable that they had attracted more admirers than all the others, really.

But, in reality, despite Diagonal has clearly absorbed many of those influences, unlike many of those bands, they only have absorbed that influence, not trying to copy it. And so, with this debut album of Diagonal you can get an entirely new album within an old familiar context. And, because the band has clearly studied this era in depth, not to mention the incorporation of the period instrumentation, the Mellotron, the Hammond organ, the Fender Rhodes piano, the fuzz bass/guitar and the saxophone, they were able to create an extract of the genre, a mix of many of the genres of prog with a good taste. In what concerns to me, Diagonal have created a great and very interesting retro prog rock album.

The band’s key strengths are the excellent keyboard work, particularly the interplay between the two players. By the other hand, the major weak point is undoubtedly the vocals, generally done in harmony-style. They’re just acceptable.

About the tracks, “Semi Permeable Men-Brain” is a mind blowingly intense and heavy piece with killer guitar work, and some great use of wind instruments and Mellotron. The vocals are in The Moody Blues’ style, although the vocals aren’t as strong as The Moodies. There’s a spacey, psychedelic flavour on this track which recalls Pink Floyd in the Barrett’s era. “Child Of The Thunder-Cloud” is a mellower track that starts off rather mellow, with piano, but I really love those aggressive passages that kick in. The atmosphere builds into the jazz prog territory with some psychedelic effects. The vocals remind me of Pink Floyd. “Deathwatch” is also a mellower piece, a Canterbury influenced piece of music, with electric piano and some mellow vocal passages. This is a very beautiful track with some inspired rhythms. It has a long instrumental section which is very melodic and beautiful. “Cannon Misfire” is an instrumental piece with lots of riffs. It has some great guitar work by both guitarists and an amazing bass line. It’s the track that can provide a higher proportion of jamming. This is a track with great musicianship and is very intense. “Pact” has a jazzy feel, then an ambient passage that reminds me of something that Vangelis would do, or perhaps Brian Eno. It’s a track with great melody in a fantastic ambient, covering several styles and with some nice blues and jazz touches. It’s a nice close.


Conclusion: Diagonal is a vintage 70’s prog act like The Soft Machine, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator and Camel, as their music is dripping in nice and lush keyboard soundscapes, jazzy sax melodies, and some adventurous space rock explorations. Diagonal have certainly come up with an exciting and quite challenging listen here with their debut album. Space rock, prog, jazz-fusion, and Canterbury fans will most certainly want to investigate this one. The album looks amazingly “grown-up”, even if not every arrangement is completely convincing and sometimes one or the other transition bumps a bit. But, overall the tensions, Diagonal plays skillfully with quieter and louder passages and has successful melodies on board. And, with the whole retro attitude, it goes without saying that the album is about a classic LP length long. This is an album to be held up as an example of how to do it right. If you’re a student of the genre, then let Diagonal be your teacher. This is prog rock you would have thought disappeared after the 70’s, really.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



Recent reviews by this author
The Future Kings of England Who Is This Who Is Coming?Supertramp Supertramp
King Crimson In the Wake of PoseidonEmerson, Lake and Palmer Trilogy
Camel MoonmadnessPink Floyd Meddle
user ratings (21)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
January 5th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Let's begin 2021 with reviews about less known modern prog bands. When I say less known modern, I mean albums from bands of this century that aren't the usual names known from everybody. This is a path I intend to follow, probably during the next six months. So, I'm going to bring here bands of different styles of prog from different contries, bands almost unknown even inside of the prog circles.

Today I bring here a British band, Diagonal. They released till now three studio albums, their eponymous debut in 2008, "The Second Mechanism" in 2012 and "Arc" in 2019. I decided to review their debut which is my favourite and probably the better. The songs are full of references to wellknown classic prog bands of the 70's, but with their own style. So, for those who like retro-prog rock with rich instrumentation and a sophisticated songwriting with influences of psycedelic, space, jazz-fusion and Canterbury, I'm pretty sure this will be a pleasant listening.

TheIntruder
January 6th 2021


500 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice to see this reviewed here. I remember that it was in one of Friday's tournaments that I knew the existence of this band. I love the album. Nice work pal. Have a pos.

e210013
January 6th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, it's true. You're right. It was the same with me. I only heard to talk about this album and band in that tournament. Courtesy of our friend zakalwe. But, soon as I heard it, I saw that we had some great stuff here. Anyway, some of the things that I'm going to bring here in the next months are things based in those tournaments. Those are great tournaments, indeed.

Thanks for the comment and pos, my friend.

TheIntruder
January 6th 2021


500 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I feel the absence of that tournaments. Continue your good work pal.

TheIntruder
January 6th 2021


500 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's is a pity that nobody else appears to make a comment about your review and album.

e210013
January 6th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, you're right. But, this is a risk to publish reviews about new unknown prog bands. As Jethro said, the new generations on Sputnik are more driven to metal, hard core and indie stuff.

So, and again, thanks by your support.

farmerobama
January 6th 2021


282 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sounds interesting, especially the Canterbury influences. I've been on a Canterbury binge over Christmas anyways, so this goes straight to my list, Nice write-up as always!

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou - The Helm Of Sorrow

e210013
January 6th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks farmer. But, you mustn't expect to hear a Canterbury album. This is a very eclectic album with an amount of influences. Canterbury is only one of te parts. Still, it remains a great album.

Thanks for the comment, pal.

Jethro42
January 6th 2021


16208 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@farmer, you'll find a lot to enjoy here if you dig the Canterbury scene. Album flirts big time with that movement. It's true, like e21 just said, it's quite eclectic, and there are for every taste, Canterbury included. I can also hear some King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator , just like e21 mentioned into his review.

@e21, Yes, prog is suffocating on the site nowadays, that's why the visits within the prog threads are often rare..

I also agree that the vocals are the weak point in here. They remind me of a poor version of Anekdoten's ones. Good review, bro. Pos'd

zakalwe
January 6th 2021


32748 Comments


Lovely work e210013

Album deserves everyones time

e210013
January 7th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Jethro. It's a pity that are so few comments about prog albums nowadays, really. There are so great prog things that are being made in these days.

e210013
January 7th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks zak. And thanks for you bring me this band. They really deserve be to be known.

zakalwe
January 7th 2021


32748 Comments


I highly recommend their last album ‘Arc’ there are some stunning moments on that.

e210013
January 7th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the info, my friend.

farmerobama
January 12th 2021


282 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just listened. First track is massive.

e210013
January 12th 2021


3166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, it's true. Still, I think the album must be appreciated as a whole.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy