September 6, 2020

A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer from Hampshire in southern England, Lee Abraham has released or been involved with an impressive array of masterful prog over the last 20 years. Having played in a succession of bands, both original and covers, he started to delve into recording his own material for limited release as the new millennium turned. Perhaps his highest-profile work to date has been with the band Galahad, which he joined as bassist in 2005, replacing Mike Kneller, and stayed for three years. Nevertheless, he has always been drawn to creating solo work, albeit with some core collaborators and as many guest stars as necessary for any given project, and he parted company with Galahad in 2008.

He was re-recruited in 2017 though, but this time as lead guitarist, which surely tells us something about his varied expertise. Galahad itself is an interesting entity, having produced 10 studio albums and a ton of live, digital and DVD material over the last 30 years without ever having had a record deal – it is all self-produced on their own Avalon label.

Lee Abraham – photo by Martin Reijman

Nevertheless, Lee Abraham continues to work as a solo artist in his own right, and this month sees his 7th album, an epic prog-metal concept named Harmony/Synchronicity. Recorded entirely during the UK lockdown, Abraham handles all the guitar, bass and keyboard parts, as well as production duties. The only other central player on the set is Credo drummer Gerald Mulligan, although there is also a slew of guest vocalists in the venerable shapes of Galahad’s own Mark Spencer and Stu Nicholson, Marc Atkinson from Riversea, Simon Godfrey from Vladez and Tinyfish, and the astounding Peter Jones, creator of the Tiger Moth Tales project. The cover art is the work of Comsograf’s Robin Armstrong.

The material itself presents a mix of themes, some inspired by the pandemic that has tried, and so far failed, to kill the music industry. Seven-minute opener The World Is Falling Down for instance, which sets out the stall for the album with a crunching riff that goes for nearly two minutes before a brief wah solo reminiscent of Tony Iommi chimes in, and then subtly changes rhythm before the vocals appear at the two minute mark. The track is linked at the foot of this page.

Second track Stay is a complete change of mood, opening as it does with beautiful harmony guitar arpeggios over echo-heavy atmospheric drums that bring to mind the 1980s ambient pop outfit Cocteau Twins – in fact a definite tang of the ‘80s pervades the album in the snare sound and extensive use of string synths. Stay is notable for its sumptuously-layered backing vocals and tasteful guitar parts, the second solo hitting an especially sweet spot.

Hearing The Call is a bit of an epic at over 11 minutes, and it covers a lot of ground. Starting with a hard and heavy slow rock beat, it’s proper New Wave Of Heavy Metal, until the five and a half minute mark brings in a fast 7/8 rhythm, followed by some tasteful guitar work and big keyboards. The synthesized heavenly choir adds extra ambience too.

Metal instrumental Misguided Pt 2 references his original Misguided track on 2014 album Distant Days – strange to think that it is now his 5th most recent solo album, as they have been flowing almost annually.

The clearer-toned, echo-rich guitars on Never Say Never bring Scots pop-rockers Big Country to mind, although this one veers into glam-or-hair-metal territory, and is followed by the shortest song on the album, the 3½ minute Rise Again. This section of the album is the poppiest part, with the latter song drawing heavily on a Snow Patrol vibe. The final track steps back into epic territory though; the title song discusses the strange phenomena of coincidence and serendipity – or harmony and synchronicity if you will. The band hits the last note at 6½ minutes and lets it fade for a full 20 seconds, long after it has dropped out of my range of hearing.

There is a tendency in prog, especially prog metal, to throw everything at every track, with the result that each song becomes predictable and highlights are virtually non-existent. That’s not the case here though; the songs retain subtlety, colour and shape, some are epic, some short and sweet, some virtuoso masterpieces and some just beautiful. There is more than enough here to keep up the interest and repay repeated listens, without overdoing any one piece. It’s a highly impressive piece of work. Give it a spin!

0