REVIEWS for our debut album “When We Changed You”
“The most exciting prog rock release of the year!”
Brent Black CRITICAL JAZZ
“The best of what classic melodic progressive rock should offer.”
Craig Hartranft DANGER DOG MUSIC REVIEWS
“Apart from ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘The Lamb’ you couldn’t find a more definitive progressive rock album if you tried.”
Alan Jones GET READY TO ROCK!
“Should secure a place in the Prog Olympus.”
Steve Braun ROCK TIMES
“A stunning piece of work…simply amazing.” 5 STARS
Jim Lawson PROG ROCK MUSIC TALK
The most exciting prog rock release of the year!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Prog rock gets a bad rap…even the label has at least a half dozen spin offs like art rock etc…
Allow me to come at XNA and their new release from a slightly different perspective. Imagine the lyrics of early Rush and the layers of sound that Yes and early Genesis are known for and you have one of the most exciting new bands of the year. Is there still a market for prog rock? Sure…when done well and XNA is a finely crafted bit of sonic splendor overseen by famed producer Billy Sherwood.
The band is built around Genesis tribute vocalist David Hussey and keyboardist Adam Malin a co founder of Creation Entertainment which happens to be the firm responsible for the original Star Trek conventions. Oddly enough both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy offered high praise for this most auspicious debut release. Guitarist Danny Bryle is indeed a harmonic wizard with the technical ability to go toe to toe with any of his contemporaries while drummer Scott Connor keeps the rhythmic pulse on the straight and narrow.
Lyrically solid, the conceptual base of this release is a somewhat more modern approach to the classic prog sounds of yesterday that have simply been blessed by the progress made in digital technology and unlike their more classic counterparts mentioned earlier the sound is far from dated. There are layers of texture and a melodic sense of purpose that never waivers.
You know all those awkward questions that children ask at various stages of their development – ‘why is the sky blue?’, ‘are we nearly there yet?’, ‘where do babies come from?’, ad nauseum – if they ever ask the real toughie: ‘Dad, what is prog rock?’, answer dramatically by slipping this little gem into the CD player and all will be revealed.
Apart from ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ you couldn’t find a more definitive progressive rock album if you tried.
Perhaps this is not surprising when you know that XNA is fronted by Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet’s lead vocalist David Hussey and composer of many a sci-fi rock opera, keyboardist Adam Malin.
It is even less surprising when you learn that ex-Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood is in the producer’s chair.
For enthusiasts of the genre, and particularly the work of Genesis, Yes, Caravan and Camel, ‘When We Changed You’ is a feast to be devoured at one sitting – the exceptional music demands this – and not bolted down either, but savoured for the masterpiece that it is.
That is not to say it is entirely fault-free, more later, but as an object lesson in how both to compose and perform contemporary progressive rock it’s as good as it gets.
A glimpse at the sumptuous artwork (hardback digi-book with 24 page insert) and a track list with titles such as ‘Banner Of The Whyte Boar’, ‘The Vale Of Avalon’ and the sixteen-plus minutes of ‘At Childhood’s End’, any aficionado will know what’s coming.
And it doesn’t disappoint.
Things get underway with the instrumental, organ-led and faintly middle-eastern vibe of ‘At Childhood’s Beginning’ which is followed by the exceptional title track – its remarkable Hackett-like solo pushing it near the front of the queue for the the album’s highlights.
The fifteen minute ‘Banner Of The Whyte Boar’ is a track for which the term ‘sprawling epic’ was created – more time sig. changes than you could shake a stick at, wonderful instrumentation and a mediaeval saga to link the whole thing together.
The aforementioned flaws appear in both ‘The Flying Dutchman’ and ‘Annapurna’ where a garrulous libretto is half-sung, half spoken making the tracks sound rather comedic and wacky – especially so on ‘Annapurna’ where the vocals are delivered in a cringe-making, and frankly ridiculous, Raj era aristocratic English accent.
Fortunately, the closing sixteen minute tour de force that is ‘At Childhood’s End’ (despite its somewhat syrupy lyrics) carries the album home in a blaze of glory and the day is saved.
This is outstanding progressive rock of the highest calibre (occasional dodgy vocals notwithstanding) played by exceptional musicians.
It gets five stars, but without its little faux pas, would have got an unattainable six.
Review by Alan Jones
Progressive Rock Review: XNA-When We Changed You
SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2014 Prog Rock Music Talk
Landing recently on my desk for review was the debut album by XNA, entitled When We Changed You. I was aware of this band, having gleaned a tiny bit of information in a prog magazine about them and also streamed a track from the debut, and was very keen to hear what the band had achieved on a completed album. This debut recording is the culmination of several years of work and sits firmly in the style of the classic greats of prog music, including Genesis, Gentle Giant, Yes, Dream Theater, ELP, Spock’s Beard, The Flower Kings and Jethro Tull. XNA’s sound could be described as symphonic, cinematic rock, but with a unique quality that marks it out as more that simply musical plagiarism.
XNA is a five piece band, founded by David Hussey (vocalist of the Genesis tribute band, Gabble Ratchet) and Adam Malin (keyboards and composer of several solo sci-fi rock operas), together with Danny Bryle (guitars), Scott Connor (drums, percussion) and Billy Sherwood ( bass, additional guitars). Billy Sherwood, of course, is well known for his involvement in many prog projects and was also involved in the production of When We Changed You. Since the recording of the album, there have been changes within the band with John Thomas replacing Danny Bryle on guitars and Jeff Bird taking over the bass duties from Billy Sherwood.
When We Changed You is a 7 track album which has a total playing time of around 65 minutes. The opening track, “At Childhood’s Beginning” is the shortest track at 2:01 minutes and the closing track, “At Childhood’s End” is the longest track on the album at 16:06 minutes.
I always feel that the opening track to any album has a huge weight on its shoulders, as it is the gateway to what the rest of the album has to offer. “At Childhood’s Beginning” (2:01) is the opening track of When We Changed You and retro sounding keyboards lead this track in, combining quickly with drums, bass, synths and a great lead guitar. It simply motors along for its 2+ minutes and whets the appetite for the upcoming tracks.
The title track, “When We Changed You” (7:19) is again heralded by those majestic keyboards and sensitive guitar themes before the powerful vocals enter. There are sweeping time changes and styles which serves to highlight the skills of the musicians involved. The movement from powerful soundscape effortlessly into the gentle, melodic side of the music succeeds in maintaining the listener’s interest. “The Flying Dutchman” (9:28) changes tack with a very nautical feel and a narrative style vocal which I did initially find a little unnerving, but after several plays, it has become a fitting style of presentation for this track. Following on, “The Vale of Avalon” (7:08) sets the imagination searching for an island paradise to fit the initial soundscape and again the mainly spoken style vocal becomes very powerful and insistent as the track ebbs and flows. The grandiose “Annapurna” (8:29) with its very eastern feel and similar styled vocals, is driven along by the tight knit band of musicians with some amazing flashes of keyboards and guitars.
The two “epic” tracks, “Banner of the White Boar” (15:03) and “At Childhood’s End” (16:06) are indeed tracks that make you stop in your tracks. “Banner of the White Boar” has an almost medieval structure throughout but features great swathes of keyboards, including harpsichord, guitars and the lyrical storyline is excellent. The sheer power provided by the bass and drums is very dynamic, as it is on all tracks. This track has already featured on the radio show and garnered some very favorable comments. “At Childhood’s End” (16:06) is the final track and sees the band flexing their collective muscles on a stormer of a track, seamlessly veering from the powerful audio scenarios to the most gentle of passages. This track draws the listener in and it is hard to believe that at its completion, 16 minutes have passed, so immersed have you become in the soundscape being presented.
As a debut album, When We Changed You is a stunning piece of work, and the more times you listen to the album, the more you become aware of the superb skills shown by those involved. The ability to create a retro style, but to make it sound so good and modernistic in its approach is simply amazing. My advice is to get hold of this album, clear enough free time to really settle back and listen to it in its entirety.When We Changed You has both the stickers, “One to Buy” and “The Experience will last Forever” and they are well deserved.
Key Tracks: Banner Of The White Boar: The Flying Dutchman: The Vale Of Avalon
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson
Danger Dog Music Reviews
Not to be confused with Microsoft’s gaming development platform is XNA, a new melodic progressive rock powerhouse. The band was invented by vocalist David Hussey (Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet) and keyboardist Adam Malin, a composer of many rock operas and co-founder of the company who created the first Star Trek convention. (If this is actually true, then I attended two in New York City in the late Seventies.) The band is rounded out by some impressive players, which you can check out on their website, including the ubiquitous Billy Sherwood providing bass, additional guitars, and producing.
Okay. So you have one founding member who sings for a Genesis tribute band, and another with an obvious background and interest in sci-fi stuff. What would you expect from their debut album When We Changed You? Think classic prog rock, like seventies-ish, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, meets a sci-fi fantasy tale, and you would be right. The story is largely incongruent. Something to do with visitors, likely aliens or some god-like aliens, visiting a young earth a hundred thousand years ago and, believing humanity to have some promise, transformed them somehow (it’s not clear).
Now these visitors have returned to see our progress, evolution if you will, and they’re, well, basically pretty pissed at us. It seems we did not aspire to a creation of peace, love, and Bobby Sherman. Extermination is imminent. This concept is developed in essentially two tracks, When We Changed You and At Childhood’s End. It’s not clear how it all ends. I’m thinking, since we didn’t evolve to their expectations, and we’re still the selfish people bent on war, death, and destruction as we prey upon one another, we should shove a large nuclear warhead up their collective asses and blow them into eternity.
In between these aforementioned songs, XNA gives us a history lesson with four songs about persons and events in human, mostly white European, history. Banner of the Whyte Boar has something to do with King Richard III; The Flying Dutchman with the ship of the same name and Anto Von Dyke; The Vale of Avalon, and I’m guessing here, from the Arthurian legends; and, Annapurna, which references Rudyard Kipling and that section of the Himalayas or possibly the town in Nepal. None of the songs seem to have any connection to the concept of the album. Or I’m simply missing it.
Alrighty then, enough of the (possibly shallow) critique of When We Changed You. Regardless of whether these are conceptual inconsistencies or not, the music is really terrific, even if Billy Sherwood is involved (oops, there I go again). XNA creates and plays really great classic, melodic, progressive rock. Those not familiar or steeped in this tradition, will find When We Changed You bothersome as it’s not harsh and heavy like modern music, but rather melodic and symphonic, with pleasant intrigue and flair. In other words, the best of what classic melodic progressive rock should offer. Quite recommended.
A stunning debut, as well as one of the true prog rock sleeper hits of 2013. Don’t pass this one by!
Rebel Noise Reviews
Multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood is as prolific a producer as he is a musician. Having been involved with many varied outlets (such as Yes, Yoso, The Prog Collective, Mars Hollow, and even William Shatner), he seems to introduce new projects as often as he can. Fortunately, his most recent (for now) venture, XNA, manages to impress instantly and consistently on its debut full-length, When We Changed You. An ambitious and amiable excursion into dazzling yet ominous prog wonderlands, it continually reveals more secrets and joys with each listen. It’s probably the best thing Sherwood has done in a long time.
Completing the XNA troupe is Adam Malin (keyboard), David Hussey (vocals), Scott Connor (drums), Danny Bryle (guitar), John Thomas (guitar), and Jeff Bird (bass). Conceptually, When We Changed You “chronicles the chaos of human civilization and development with a chilling cautionary tale on the consequences of our moral choices…each [track has] its own fantastic and cinematic tale to make up their unified concept…tracing over a hundred millennia of human history.” Indeed, the standard influences (including Jethro Tull, Genesis, and ELP) shine through, as well a striking similarity to both Those Men and early Marillion. XNA is skilled enough to channel these techniques into a fairly fresh sound, which makes When We Changed You feel refreshing even though it also feels familiar.
– See more at: http://rebelnoise.com/reviews/xna-when-we-changed-you#sthash.Bw4p10db.dpuf
“At Childhood’s Beginning” sets the stage with prophetic organ wails before the rest of the band steps with a standard prog rock structure. The highlight of this instrumental is the flurry of shifting timbres, including bells, starry synths, and frenzied flute. As for the title track, it starts off with delightful exuberance as Hussey’s silky yet commanding voice incorporates a bit of Shelly’s “Ozymandias” into his prophetic decree. Complementing him is a forceful rhythm section and a spacey atmosphere, as well as plenty of towering guitar lines. The midsection jam is especially affective and hypnotic.
The folksy opening of “Banner of the Whyte Bear” makes it instantly charming, and once it builds from a lone acoustic guitar to an intricate musical puzzle (reminiscent of Beardfish), the track becomes an instant classic. At over fifteen minutes in length, it goes through several transformations; for example, it switches to almost medieval journey a few minutes in, recalling early 70s Genesis with great success. Later on, the composition becomes more hectic and interconnected, which would make it dizzying if not for the sublime level of focus and restraint.
There’s a definite brilliance in the way “The Vale of Avalon” constantly juxtaposes aggression with naturalistic warm and tranquility; it feels as if the band is performing centuries ago, in the middle of the countryside. Again, what keeps this record from feeling too run-of-the-mill is its tones, like the chimes of triumph and the morning wonder of nylon strings. “Annapurna” holds its own with lovely harmonies and arpeggios, and while Hussey can sound a bit overly dramatic at times, his voice still fits perfectly with the music.
Seeing as how so many progressive rock albums embrace conceptual continuity, it makes sense that the closing epic is entitled “At Childhood’s End.” Another majestic adventure through alternating temperaments, farsighted lyricism, and bold execution, it’s probably the best track on here, as its sense of closure and retrospect is infectious. Hell, it even reprises some previously heard segments masterfully, and it’s here that XNA truly mirrors Misplaced Childhood era Marillion.
When We Changed You may not be particularly impressive upon your first listen, but after a few more it will definitely blow you away. There’s a level of refinement and attention to detail here that is rarer than you’d think, for as virtuosic as most prog bands are, few make you feel like every note and tonal quality is meticulously chosen. This is a stunning debut, as well as one of the true sleeper hits of 2013. Let’s hope that the next record brings XNA a lot more attention.
– See more at: http://rebelnoise.com/reviews/xna-when-we-changed-you#sthash.Bw4p10db.dpuf
From Germany, Babyblaue Seiten:
XNA are not one of those retro bands who try to sound just like in the blessed year of 1972, and they’re also not a clone band, but their ancestors Genesis and Yes keep sounding through. The issue of musical innovation doesn’t come up anymore with bands of this kind. Proggies, who value the really progressive element highly, will surely get bored and turn them off. The quality of the music can only be measured by how competently it is played and if the band succeeds in providing some entertainment.
XNA hail from Los Angeles and yet they sound as British as can be. This is because of Billy Sherwood who plays bass here and who produced the album, after having honored Yes with his presence in the 90s. And it’s also due to David Hussey, singer of the Genesis cover band “Gabble Ratchet.” Despite all the apparent heroes like Genesis, Yes, but also Pink Floyd and I think even the Eagles in the guitar solos, the band is able to combine all of this to a style that is distinct, after all.
First of all, this style can be seen in the strong focus on lyrics. This should be self-evident for Prog, but XNA is indeed able to color their lyrics musically. The stories of love and hate, which depict a kind of bizarre time travel, are enframed by the song titles that point to a well-known novel by Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood’s End) which has been known to inspire Van der Graaf Generator and Pink Floyd, as well. “When We Changed You” is the song that features the story which tells the evolutionary rise of mankind. The ensuing titles feature historical events and also mysterious stories. “Banner of the Whyte Boar” is set in Richard III.’s time and even contains an actual prayer from the king of England; “Annapurna” tells a lost Indian story by Rudyard Kipling; “The Flying Dutchman” treats the well-known legend of the Flying Dutchman, and “The Vale of Avalon” is all about New Age esoterics. Different kinds of traditional folklore are blended with symphonic prog and a bit of melodic rock, so basically it’s classic prog light. This way each story gets its very own distinct characteristics.
These distinct characteristics can also be observed in David Hussey who doesn’t want to sound like a singer of a Genesis cover band, but he does exhibit a certain theatricality. However, it seems to me that the strong focus on the lyrics puts the vocals too much in the foreground at the expense of the music.
So, if you like catchy retroprog that nevertheless includes a diversity of ideas and folkloristic elements and puts them into a harmonic relationship with the lyrics, you should be well served with XNA.
From Germany: Rocktimes – CD-Review:
I’m happily surprised about this project – usually the projects featuring Billy Sherwood rather turn me off, and when I see a new project with this name I’m alarmed. But in this case there’s no alarm required!
Apparently, the core of this new progressive project XNA has been the Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet where singer David Hussey and Yoso drummer Scott Connor acquired their progressive merits. On top of that David Hussey got some additional education in the Yes cover band Close to the Edge and this had a good effect on his writing abilities. His co-author on all tracks, the trained pianist Adam Malin, fortunately prevented Billy Sherwood from touching the keyboard which in turn prevented Billy from doing what he’s not very good at – singing and playing keyboards. This is probably one of the reasons why this XNA debut turns out to be such a great album. Another reason turns out to be the fourth great member of the band, guitarist Danny Bryle, who seems to be heavily influenced by Steve Howe. So, Sherwood’s input to XNA was pretty much limited to playing bass and the production, both of which he does very well! In a live setting, though, he is replaced by Jeff Bird (YesStory, Roundabout) who is also infected by the Yes virus.
On “When we changed you“ the listener is presented with an hour’s worth of highly dramatic, at times even almost theatrical entertainment which makes focusing on the long-winded explications a lot of fun. This is mainly because XNA doesn’t turn out to be that dreaded hybrid of the 2 prog legends but rather the compositions by Hussey/Malin sound damned independent. Even though most of the contributing musicians hail from sunny California, you can hear quite a few British folk elements that are sometimes reminiscent of medieval gleemen’s music, like in “Banner of the Whyte Boar.” All the songs are of a rocky nature, and Sherwood has his usual urge for mellowing down everything well under control, for a change!
The strong music carries strong stories of belletristic nature. Where “The Flying Dutchman” is completely re-interpreted, the many changes between operetta-like ¾ and powerfully driving 4/4 rhythms provide an incredible tension / suspense. The prayer of Richard III. gets dramatized in “Banner of the Whyte Boar,” using all the big ingredients available. In parts this even reminds me of the best Tull albums of the 70s, like Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses. Supremely great!
Also the third (ultra) long track, “At Childhood’s End,” should be able to secure a place in the “Progressive Olympus”. This story, based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, had already inspired Pink Floyd (Obscured by Clouds) and Marillion (Misplaced Childhood) to write eponymous songs. Both of those can hardly reach the quality of this orchestral opus by XNA. This track, with its great choirs and keyboard fanfares, also correlates to the overture “At Childhood’s Beginning.”
The good musical impression is even surpassed by the visual aspects of the digipak! It’s made to resemble a little book, with its 24 page booklet that is illustrated with loving care. A real eyecather.
Not in my wildest dreams did I anticipate beforehand that this Sherwood-produced XNA project would turn out to be that convincing. A really strong recommendation for this album is in order!
XNA – When We Changed You
Prog Rock Revisited
Many among you have said, ‘Prog Rock is dead’ and many have agreed. However, is the genre really dead, or as most things in today’s convoluted musical landscape, has Prog Rock just been pushed closer to the edge than ever before, while tarts with tits win ‘talent’ contests on national television and take the spotlight?
Anyone who is a true music fan knows the answer to that question. Real music… bands like XNA… are not the flavor of the month, and likely never will be again. However, Prog Rock is still alive. In fact, it still thrives in some parts of the planet, just not in the United States.
Our shallow approach, on this side of the pond, to the arts will leave us forever worshiping at the prodigies of Simon Cowell over a band that truly seeks to be original and can…gasp…play their own instruments and even…double gasp…play them exceptionally well.
XNA is a band that can play…and sing…and write songs. They do it well. They are original and they are so unique that most will never hear of them. But for those who like their music with the same zest as a strong cup of coffee, this band will appeal. It may be an acquired taste, but it is tasty nonetheless.
The band features vocalist David Hussey, who used to sing in a Genesis tribute band, and there is a lot of early Genesis influence in this band. Elsewhere is Adman Malin on keys, Danny Bryle on guitars and Scott Connor on drums. Bass on the album is played by Billy Sherwood, who also produced the album. Billy is Prog’s saving grace as he has proven with other projects, most notably his band Circa, that it is his personal mission to keep Progressive Rock alive and well.
When We Changed You, in typical Prog fashion, has only seven songs, two of which clock in at over fifteen minutes…and you can’t fucking dance to ANY of this shit! Nope, they will not be big in the club circuit. They may just have a future among those who view music as an art form, however. This is emotional and technical music. This is an entire album of songs that fit together…better said, they belong together.
So, don’t expect to see them on MTV…or American Idol…or any other pre-fabricated star show. Instead, they will garner success with the adage “Attraction rather than promotion.” XNA is a band that will choose their fans.
This writer predicts, if principals can remain stronger than personalities in this band, then they will soon be mentioned among the Spock’s Beard’s of the world. Rating: B
Xna: When We Changed You (2013)
From All About Jazz By GLENN ASTARITA, Published: February 25, 2014
The handsome packaging is a bounded cardboard book with artwork, photos and lyrics to instill or perhaps reinforce that this newly formed neo-progressive rock band, cherishes the artistically minded era of the olden days of yore. It’s not a shabbily produced set by any stretch. With a few understated quotes and inferences to vintage Genesis and an all-encompassing prog rock trajectory, the band seamlessly fuses the old with the new. The production coalesces memorably melodic comps with the artists’ impressive technical faculties via grandiose storylines, hummable hooks, blustery climactic overtures and the frontline’s passionately enacted solos.
Led by vocalist David Hussey of the Genesis tribute ensemble Gabble Ratchet, the program is chock full of tuneful storylines, accorded a little bite by guitarist Danny Bryle’s streaming sustain licks and crunchy single note leads. But Hussey’s emphatic and sincere deportment adds believability to the lyricism. However, the ensemble augments its attack with gritty soloing, symphonic textures, and a conspicuous penchant for the dynamic.
Keyboardist and Sci-Fi enthusiast Adam Malin is as a co- founder of Creation Entertainment—an organization that is responsible for the original Star Trek convention—generates a multilayered scope of attack with his various keyboards. And multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood (Yes) plays bass and chips in on the guitar front. Moreover, Sherwood has been involved in numerous prog-rock productions for this label, including Star Trek actor William Shatner’s release, Ponder The Mystery (Cleopatra Records, 2013).
On the fifteen-minute opus “Banner of the Whyte Boar,” the band fuses a memorable theme with stately choruses and a few flights of fancy, nestled within a suite-like approach amid nods to Britain’s legendary ’70s Canterbury scene. With guest artist Tonilyn Hornung’s bittersweet flute lines and Malin’s supple piano interludes, the band signals a capricious or perhaps phantasmagorical throwback to the glory days of prog. Other pieces contain stinging guitars, and the unification of Eastern modalities with Western song-forms. And “The Vale of Avalon” boasts an endearing melody that is pop friendly, but contrasted with the artists’ serious-minded interplay and a few twists and turns. In sum, the musicians hit the mark and touch a nerve by bridging a sense of antiquity with a novel slant, powered by their irrefutable conviction and the alluring compositions.
Track Listing: At Childhood’s Beginning; When We Changed You; Banner of the Whyte Boar; The Flying Dutchman; The Vale of Avalon; Annapurna; At Childhood’s End
Personnel: David Hussey: lead vocals; Adam Malin: keyboards; Scott Connor: drums, percussion; Danny Bryle: guitars; Billy Sherwood: bass, additional guitars.
XNA: When We Changed You
Sea of Tranquility
Remember the days when you would return from your favourite record store and unwrap the vinyl you had just purchased. The excitement of opening the album jacket and gazing at the artwork for the first time. Fond memories indeed. These are the feelings I had when gazing upon the hard cover digi pack of XNA’s debut When We Changed You. The artwork is immediately striking and one hopes the music is just as good. I am happy to say it is.
In the band are Adam Malin (keyboards), David Hussey (vocals), Danny Bryle (guitars), Scott Connor (drums) and Billy Sherwood (bass, additional guitars). This is another one of those bands that have seemingly come out of nowhere to release a stunning debut album. For those of you who like sprawling epics, intricate musicianship and sci-fi concepts you have come to the right place.
First a little about the concept. One hundred thousand years ago an advanced alien species happened by our galaxy and set foot upon our world. They saw potential in humanity so they altered us in the hope that we would develop into our full potential. Well, one hundred millennia later they have returned and our not impressed with what we have become. Call me a geek but I love epic concepts like this. The second and last tunes deal with the alien contact while songs in between take pages out of Earth’s past like King Richard the Third, the myth of the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman and the legend of King Arthur. It is a wonderful storyline with the music to back it up.
The album begins with the short but dramatic instrumental “At Childhood’s Beginning”. Big organ sounds in the grand style of classic ’70s prog, solid drumming and orchestral maneuverings all combine for a full-fledged prog work-out. The title track meanders through varying tempos and soundscapes including an Eastern vibe and soaring guitars to emphasize the melody. The album’s first epic “Banner of the Whyte Boar” is just a great track. Excellent interplay between guitar and keys with the song taking on different forms but always keeping the main melody close at hand. It took me a while to get into the talking vocal style in “The Flying Dutchman” and Annapurna” but eventually it started to make sense as it matches the music well serving to add to the drama in both pieces. The epic tune “At Childhood’s End” is a befitting album closure; pure symphonic bliss showcasing each band member’s talent and attention to detail. Both epics have a nice flow, never feeling like a cut and paste job as all the different parts serve well to make the whole a fine listening experience.
When We Changed You is just a great package. From the artwork to the music, progressive rock fans should rejoice. If symphonic progressive rock in the vein of early Genesis, Yes and Starcastle is your thing, I urge you to check this one out. XNA is a band that will be on my radar, hopefully for many years to come.
4 1/2 STARS
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf Added: March 5th 2014
XNA have released When We Changed You and what a release it is. This struck me as very English prog rock in the realm of Genesis and other ’70s greats. It is as quirky as the Canterbury Fair and doesn’t hold its punches. While never nostalgic tosh, there is something quite heartwarming at all. It is the type of prog that invokes scenes of a large, green park, with wine, cheese, sunshine, and a quaint English folk prog music fair.
By Marty Dodge