The Last Semblance

Label: Independent
Three similar bands: Porcupine Tree/Haken/Portishead

Rating: HHHHHHH (3/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
1. Elegy Simulacra
2. Fathom
3. A Wreath of Temperance
4. Velvet Margin
5. Heirloom
6. Zero Sum
7. Attenuation
8. The Ivory Silo

Josh Kay - Guitars & vocals
Jon Damon - Drums
Terran Fernandez - Bass & backing vocals
Avelino Ramirez - Keyboards

Cast Zenith (2018)


Drums recorded at Big Scary Tree Studios in Sunland, CA in January 2020. All other instruments tracked at Spooky Juice Studios in Los Angeles, CA between January and February 2020
Produced by Alizarin
Mixing: Josh Kay
Mastering: Jamie King
Drum engineering: Jeb Lipson
Artwork and layout: Josh Kay

Released 2020-07-10
Reviewed 2020-07


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Alizarin released a debut album in 2018 that was instrumental, now for their second album they have introduced another dimension to their music with the vocals by guitarist Josh Kay. That gives them more tools to work with and when you are doing progressive music it sometimes helps to have more tools available. The style of the band is similar to Porcupine Tree or later day Opeth and the cover also makes me think of those bands.

It is progressive rock or metal and the tempo is often quite low, and I would say that it sounds like they borrow a lot from the inspirations. The vocals are good, Kay has a dramatic style of singing that fits the style of the album, the production is also good. There is a good deal of variation even though they keep the tempo quite constant, but despite it being fairly varied it is a long album that plays for nearly an hour and it feels like it takes even longer to play it. And it is predictable, I think it all feels very familiar and the first time I ever hear this band and album I get the sense of having heard it many times before, that is not something I like when I hear an album for the first time.

The Last Semblance is okay, there is nothing that is really bad, but there are things that I think can be considered less than brilliant. Like the very long playing time, like an eternity without end, almost. That isn’t my major issue though, it is the tempo and presentation, they have good ideas but present them in a way that makes it seem like nothing happens, quite the opposite to most progressive bands I like – I enjoy minimalistic band that makes nothing seem to be everything, that makes the difficult seem easy – these guys don’t do that. I don’t really know what they do, it feels a bit like listening to some of the poorer Haken or Opeth albums. A bit like background music, like a white noise machine or something, they call it cinematic so perhaps as a film score.

Like many other progressive albums The Last Semblance doesn’t grab my attention, it is too much, it is overworked and there are no real focal points. Most good progressive rock and metal offer strong hit songs to spice up their albums, even the albums that makes conceptual stories have stronger focal points to keep you on your feet so you don’t fall asleep or your mind wanders elsewhere, Alizarin doesn’t have that. I think they could have used this as a template and built from it with adventurous ideas and more tempo variations. Perhaps this can be seen as a little bit cautious and careful, a first attempt with the vocals and that the more daring ideas are yet to come. In that case we may be in for some future treats from these guys, but this album doesn’t really fly.