No, ZELLO are not a follow up project for Swiss YELLO, but a Swedish band with quite well known names: Janne Stark (LOCOMOTIVE BREATH on guitars) and P.O. Saether (one of Sweden’s top producers for Rock and Metal) and even though “First Chapter, Second Verse“ has been released in 2004, it is not a new album, but a re-recording of the Swedes’ debut (originally released in1996, even though song writing already started as far back as 1979), now in the Rock version, as the original did not contain any guitars.
So how does this at least partly 25 year old album? Well, bands such as KANSAS definitely had an influence, as you can hear right away in opener “Fairy Queen“, with electric violin and cool melodies, good vocals, moog, an extensive keyboard solo by either Mats Olsson or Anders Altzarfeld (which fits in greatly, btw) and everything that’s attached, very good start. And that continues right after in the super catchy “Hold On“, which still manages to pack tempo changes and breaks into the song in a very dynamic way, appealing to both Prog fans and Rockers.
The Prog of the Seventies without a doubt is a fix in the Swedes’ sound, but on the other hand they also incorporate a bit more modern Prog elements as well as some Folk influences, as on the kind of dreamy “The Children Are Crying“, which fit in greatly. “The Angels Have Fallen“ is a bit more upbeat, which is even furthered on “Traffic Jam“, the most probably fastest track on “First Chapter, Second Verse“. So one can see that they still are looking after variety.
Lion Music have discovered a little Prog jewel, which should equally appeal to Proggers as Hard Rockers, great melodies and dynamic song structures take care of that, the production is not the best (which is a bit surprising considering Saether’s name), but the strong song material makes up for that. (Online June 7, 2005)