Metal Mind Productions, 2009
REVIEW BY: Mark Kadzielawa
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/09/2009
I was bit surprised this album came out so quickly – which is to say, I haven’t yet stopped listening to Polish progressive trio SBB’s previous opus The Rock from 2007. Iron Curtain, however, is a great record that shows the band capitalizing on their creative momentum.
Skrzek, Apostolis, Nemeth is a winning combination. If the impressive sound of this follow-up is any indication, the atmosphere among these three musicians -- keyboard player/bassist/vocalist Jozef Skrzek, guitar player Antimos Apostolis, and drummer Gabor Nemeth -- must be incredible.
The music itself is once again very colorful. Every track is very different stylistically, yet it all comes together as a whole. The opening title cut sets the very upbeat tone, with a sing-along-like feel. “Camelele” is as gentle as it gets, yet it electrifies with its simplicity and beauty. I could just go on track by track here, as each song has its own aura. No track on “Iron Curtain” resembles another, but the band maintains a very warm and positive feel. As I listen to the record more and more my favorites change regularly. The closing track, for example, is a real pearl. The title translates to “You Are Child As Long As Your Mother Is Alive,” and as the title indicates, it’s a very touching lyric with heartfelt delivery by Skrzek.
SBB is in top notch form here, making it look easy when their arrangements are very complicated. There is a great deal of improvisation that probably originated as they jammed on these songs. The songs really open a lot of space and potential to be extended when played live. Different moods elevate certain songs (such as “Defilada”) to new heights. The lyrics are all sung in Polish, and Skrzek’s voice is as always calming and colorful; it’s an instrument in itself. Since I also speak, I can attest to the real beauty and poetic nature of the lyrics.
The production on Iron Curtain is great as well, employing a very organic sound much like the old vinyl records many of us used to have. Every instrument is highlighted with incredible clarity, really showing what great players these three are; it’s a record that sounds great at any volume.
SBB should be proud of Iron Curtain for all these reasons. This album is very relevant, and shows how a band can continue to develop even 40 years down the line. My hat is off to Skrzek, Apostolis, and Nemeth for being so creative, and being able to deliver their creative vision in such meaningful manner. Having said that….I’m gonna go give Iron Curtain another spin.