the most recommended albums from 2013, Airbag's "The Greatest Show on Earth"
alluded me for most of the year. I finally got the chance to hear it, and I have
to admit it isn't quite what I expected. Airbag is hugely influenced by Pink
Floyd, and I hear Porcupine Tree in there, too.
don't really sound like either of those bands. They definitely have their own
is one of atmosphere, strong guitar work, and detailed keys.
The album itself is thick with
ambiance from beginning to end. This is due in part to the keyboard work offered
by multiple members. They range from spacey to piano to soaring, but they are
almost always there, haunting and speaking softly. On top of this foundation,
the guitar lets its voice be heard. Bjorn Riis is extremely talented with the
guitar, and his steeled tone gives us awesome licks and hardened solos that
pierce the music to its core.
entire band is extremely unified, that's for certain. They unite with almost
post-rock dexterity, creating beautiful texture and interesting melodies. The
vocalist, Asle Tostrup, has a very mellow, almost weak, tone to his delivery. He
has a good voice, though I feel a truly spectacular singer could carry this band
to new heights.
is about society and surveillance. I think it's about more than that, though.
Feelings of desperation and misery are definitely felt throughout this album, as
a call for privacy and grace is first and foremost. However, I will say that the
scope of this surveillance is probably global. I ultimately think Airbag is
making a religious statement here, but I won't get into that now.
dark, and foggy; "The Greatest Show on Earth" feels laid bare and exposed. These
feelings are expressed so very well here. In the thick atmosphere of keys and
piercing guitar, one can feel the desperate attempts at reclaiming life. "Call
Me Back" (my favorite), for instance, features amazing lyrics and melodies, but
I do feel that the rest of the album feels a bit samey. It's one long melancholy
trip, but it does hold interest.
like the two part "Surveillance" track, I would definitely say that the
strongest tracks are the ones in the middle, especially "Call Me Back", "Silence
Grows", and title track. Though the music is a bit one note at times, it does
end up featuring personality and somber mood. That idea is pretty representative
of the whole album, then, as the album is clearly meant to be atmospheric and
very personal. I believe it succeeds in most of what it aims to do, as it
delivers a mood and a foundation for guitar theatrics. To call it a masterpiece
would be an overreach, but I will say that this fantastic album is outstanding
in many ways and needs to be heard by any prog fan.