Special Providence – Soul Alert Album Review0 By Rick Bakker
Special Providence is an instrumental Progressive Rock/Jazz/Fusion band comprised of individuals of other progressive bands around Hungary and neighboring countries. Formed with the desire to make compelling instrumental progressive music, the band operates without any limitations to their sound, and on their latest release Soul Alert they successfully fuse precision technical instrumentation with playful experimentation.
The obvious problem that is inherent to instrumental albums is that it can be difficult to keep a listener engaged throughout. Special Providence avoid this by staying unpredictable and constantly blending styles, time signatures and tempos in just the course of a single track. What makes Special Providence great is their ability to make this experimentation very musical and non-challenging to the average listener, even when they are all over the map as far as music genres. Songs like “Lazy Boy” effortlessly jump from smooth jazz with melodic tones, to fast paced techno and a heavy metal breakdown. What should be a very confusing song is expertly meshed together into a cohesive sound that features very catchy keyboard and guitar melodies.
This ambitious yet enjoyable sound is achieved through the highly skilled playing of Special Providence’s band members. Fans of keyboard driven music in particular will find a lot to like about Soul Alert, as the keys of Csery Zoltan are very prominent and a driving force behind each song. His command of a huge array of tones and sound as well as composing very catchy melodies are a large part of Soul Alert’s originality. His playing oftentimes recalls Joran Rudess of Dreamtheater, which is probably the best compliment that can be given to a progressive rock keyboardist. The guitar work of Kertesz Marton is very impressive. With a sound reminiscent of Joe Satriani, he shreds expertly and effortlessly throughout the album. While Soul Alert can seem to focus heavily on the keys , on the songs where he is given chance to shine such as “Babel Confusion”, “Asparagus” and the standout heavy rock track “Standing Still”, Marton’s guitar solos are downright jaw dropping. Bassist Fehervari Attila also gets a few chances to shred as well on the slow, piano laden “Return to Childhood”.
There are times unfortunately where Soul Alert can fall into the trap of background music as some of the slower songs lack the crazy experimentation of the earlier tracks. While these slower tempo songs offer a change of pace to the frenetic energy of faster tracks, the bar is set so high by those songs that the slower tracks can feel like album filler. These are very minor complaints to an otherwise very enjoyable album that fans looking for something new and fun in progressive music should experience.