Bart M. : Only three years after having released their latest album Black Book Lodge presents us their third chapter, 'Steeple And Spire'. After 'Tundra' and 'Entering Another Measure' we we get to hear a record of which singer and guitarist Ronny Jønsson says shows the listeners a lighter side of life. He tells us the previous albums portrayed snowy landscapes and mountains and that on this album the snow has melted and there is room to enjoy the sun and reflect on the more positive side of life.
And there is a lot of reflection going on on 'Steeple And Spire'. The moment you put on this record you are almost immediately thrown into a storm of sound that gets alternated, to stay with the theme, with softer winds and calmer waters. I was very much impressed when I had heard the first two songs ('Weightless Now PT I & II', titles that have a very Anathema-like feel, although that band is definitely not the only one allowed to divide their songs into parts). This sounds like nice, heavy rock with a slight Muse infusion. With Ronny's voice and the somewhat moody, musical stuffing, this music manages to hit all the right spots.
After that though, it does start to go downhill a little. And when there is no snow, you are in for a bumpy ride. There is still a lot going on in what happens next, a lot of experimentation and combining different styles, which definitely makes this one a prog-rock album. Which is not a bad thing were it not for the fact that it reminds me of so many other things that I have already heard. Especially the various projects of Neal Morse come to mind. Do not get me wrong, this is definitely not an imitation, but neither is it very renewing. Despite of this, Black Book Lodge has the guts to follow their own path, which sometimes results in longwinded passages, both vocally and musically, but also to very interesting moments that will make your skin crawl. A very nice record, but it needs a little more surprises and maybe some more vocal variation.