Pure Reason Revolution (PRR) are a kind-of crossover Indie / progressive rock band supposedly comparable to bands like Porcupine Tree and, more recently, Anathema; bands who’ve at least attempted to give the genre a new twist. After releasing Hammer And Anvil in 2011, PRR went their own way, but the band reunited in 2019 – well, Jon Courtney and Chloe Alper did – and between them they now play everything, with the occasional assistance of Greg Dunmore on drums. They released Eupnea (“normal unobstructed breathing”) to general acclaim, and now, in 2020, their 2006 debut album, The Dark Third, is being reissued as a double CD (and also available on coloured vinyl), with the original album having six extra tracks added to it – including the superb single The Intention Craft, which was initially only on the US release..
For a debut album, the ambition shown by PRR is commendable, even if it doesn’t always hit the mark. They seem to have chosen not to play it safe; rather, they showed a desire to go to places where some prog bands might fear to tread. The sound they make, from spacey to electronica to heavy chord based blasts of metal, is creative and atmospheric. They weave some good melodies into their songs on tracks like Nimos And Tambos, and the album’s very cohesive, with all the songs segueing into each other.
They also wear their influences on their sleeves, most notably from Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, especially on their more extended workouts – and these can be heard in the twelve minute sprawling epic, Bright Ambassadors Of Morning, (a line taken from the Floyd album Echoes) which opens with a couple of minutes of space atmospheric sounds, then the drums and guitar enter, with some good vocal harmonising, before the middle eight, when the title of the track is then continuously repeated. In the middle of the song, the title is repeated ad nauseum, to the point where the repetition becomes boring. The song then rocks out with an explosion of sonic power, before a final minute or so of spacey effects fade-out. This is a track which could have been shorter.
Aeropause sounds like a Pink Floyd outtake from their early seventies heyday, and the inclusion of the line ‘Lime and limpid green’ in Apprentice of the Universe, despite its catchy melody, is surely not coincidental. Songs like The Twyncyn/Trembling Willows and Voices in Winter/In the realm of the Divine combine simplicity, melody and also a good dose of power, and in Bullitts Dominae and In Aurelia (taken from the book of the same name, about the uncertainty of sanity), they have a pair of really good tracks. When they power-rock, they’re no match for bands like Dream Theater or Opeth, but they can certainly hold their own.
The Dark Third is supposedly a concept album about ‘Dreams and Sleep,’ but I wasn’t too certain of this after a few listens because the lyrics weren’t always discernible, and those I could make out sounded quite randomly assembled, coming across like a sixth-former’s idea of being ‘deep.’ But despite the obvious influences, this isn’t to say PRR are simply ripping off more established bands, they’re not. They have their own way of doing things and, as the band progressed, and now they’re back together, they have a groove of their own. If you’re coming at PRR for the first time, this album should be heard with an open mind.