SiX By SiX – SiX By SiX
Inside Out Music
Release Date: 19/08/22
Running Time: 46:48
Review by Simon Black
Generally, hear at Ever Metal we get hit with about 300 album review submissions a month, which sadly we can’t ever hope to fully service, since none of us actually does this for a living. Every month I would estimate that a good ten per cent of these releases entail some kind of what PR companies insist on branding as a ‘supergroup’ projects. In reality the bulk of these are either actually a solo project from a named artist on sabbatical from their main band (or indeed, at the beginning of the end of that particular band and/or said artist’s involvement with it), or one of the seemingly endless pot pourri projects from Italian label Frontiers, which take one or more largely faded heroes of yore and mix them up with an Italian house band / producer / studio on an almost industrial scale (the results of which can be very hit and miss). Whilst there’s some cracking and unique stuff that comes into the slush pile like this, the vast majority simply cannot be classified as a “Supergroup” despite what they PR blurb says.
For that, what we listen to has to be, well ideally a bit … super…
SiX By SiX are a collaboration between Saxon’s formidable drummer Nigel Glockler, Saga’s six-string wizard Ian Crichton and the endlessly versatile Robert Berry of Emerson / Palmer side project 3 on Bass, Vocals and Keys (with Chrichton and Berry handling the bulk of the song-writing duties). The three of them have worked together independently in the past on other projects it seems, but the coming together of three such experienced professionals at first seemed a bit of an eclectic choice, given their diverse backgrounds.
Yet this is as much of an honest homage to the bands they love from their youth, and what we get from this process is a frankly formidable conjugation of players and writers that, yes, is more than a little bit on the super side. Musically, I’m in classic Prog Rock heaven, with the strongest influences coming from an awful lot of 70’s classic Rush and inevitably a huge dollop of ELP, plus a twinge of 80’s YesWest era Yes.
Glockler is on the kind of form that you wouldn’t expect here. Whilst I have nothing but respect for him and the vast majority of Saxon’s output, musically Saxon are straight ahead traditional NWOBHM, so to hear him fluidly turn his hand to the way more technically demanding and Progressive material here, and deliver it so effortlessly is a credit to what must be one of the most underrated and underutilised drummers in the business. Given his pedigree, it’s not surprising that he delivers his parts with the kind of heaviness and power you would expect of a Metal tub-thumper, but he does so whilst still delivering the technical wizardry and musical fluidity of the more Progressive end of the game.
And he does it soooo, well….
Crichton’s guitar work is incredibly varied and fluid, as you would expect for a man of his Progressive pedigree, but he makes it work with that deep heavy undercarriage effortlessly, and despite the varied style and musical mix in here, he responds beautifully, and, more importantly subtly, to everything this rich gamut of songs runs. This isn’t Prog Metal, it’s Prog Rock, so don’t expect shredding, just lovely, fluid and beautifully delivered melodic wizardry with the right mix of acoustic and electric touches at just the right points to make you stop and notice.
Then there’s Berry’s contribution to everything else. His bass work perfectly compliments Glockler’s drums and the first thing that strikes you is how tight this rhythm section is; yet a living breathing fluid entity interacting with every other instrument at the same stroke. Vocally Berry’s voice is in the clean register, but with enough of a soulful lived-in tinge to cross the aisles from the Prog Rock to the more Metal world as well.
With the kind of musical foundation that should be capable of withstanding an earthquake, the stage is set for some really incredibly well written and crafted songs. It’s not clear whether this material was written and recorded remotely, given that this project came together at the tail end of the pandemic, but it certainly has the rich unwritten sub-text of a group of players who have developed that anticipatory chemistry, and this is where the project scores over the multitude of collaboration projects that cross my des, where everyone seems to have been forced together at the behest of either a label or in support of one person’s solo dreams.
The highlights for me included the two singles ‘Yearning to Fly’ and ‘China’, which are clearly crafted to make sure the Planet Rock audience sits up and listens, but the album gently snowballs with its conceptual story with increasingly well-crafted and subtly complex material, with the final trilogy of crackers that close the album ‘Skyfall’, ‘Battle Of A Lifetime’ and the catchy ‘Save The Night’ really proving to be top notch Prog heaven.
So, are SiX By SiX a true Supergroup? Categorically yes. I mean there’s even an accompanying graphic novel to support the concept, and that’s not something you see from a budget spin-off or hopeful solo effort. This is a band of brothers first and foremost and feels like a proper band in its own right. The fact that they have garnered major label support from Sony’s Inside Out and are gearing up for a proper tour says it all, and I for one intend to be done the front for that show. Super…? Damn straight…
‘China’ Official Video
01. Yearning to Fly
03. Reason to Feel Calm Again
04. The Upside of Down
06. Live Forever
07. The Last Words on Earth
09. Battle of a Lifetime
10. Save the Night
Ian Crichton – Guitar
Nigel Glockler – Drums
Robert Berry – Bass, Keyboards and Vocals.
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