Leon : When I saw that Daniel Gildenlöw was working on a new project, together with super drummer Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats), guitarist Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), bass guitarist Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings) and pianist Tom Brislin (Meat Loaf), I immediately knew that I wanted to listen to it. Gildenlöw is one of my favorite singers and a collaboration between these other progressive rock legends sounds like something that could be very interesting. The Sea Within classify themselves as a new art rock collective, a group of experienced and talented musicians who try to make good music together. The term supergroup is somewhat avoided, but there are certain expectations towards the quality of the album, so I’m afraid that the band can’t completely escape the term.
The self-titled album, which contains two CD's, starts very strongly with the song 'Ashes Of Dawn', it’s exactly what I was hoping for. The song is progressive, well composed, and is musically well performed, although the latter does not surprise me with the talent in the band. The only point of criticism here is the saxophone solo that I don’t like so much and doesn’t sound nice, perhaps others won’t have any problems with that. A good start of the album, but can the band keep the level so high during the entire album? In my opinion, that is not entirely the case. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the album suddenly takes a turn for the worse, the album’s quality is undoubtedly well above the average and the level of quality remains quite high throughout the album, but the album just fails to completely convince me. Songs such as 'They Know My Name' and 'The Void' are still pretty strong, but songs like 'Broken Cord' and 'An Eye For An Eye For An Eye' are much less interesting, although the instrumental pieces are pretty interesting again, the jazz like piano solo in the latter song makes an impression. Actually, all the instrumental parts are quite impressive, it’s obvious that we are dealing with very talented musicians here. What I also really like is that Gildenlöw doesn’t take on all vocal parts, there is room for guest singers Casey McPherson (Flying Colors) and Jon Anderson (Yes) to sing a song on the album too, but also some of the other band members get the opportunity to show their singing skills. This way we get an extra dimension to the music. It is also interesting to mention that there are more guest artists on the album than just McPherson, master pianist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) plays somewhere on the album and also 'wind ace' Rob Townsend (Steve Hackett) plays some saxophone and flute on the album.
With all that talent in one group it’s really not a surprise that the music is well above the average prog rock release, yet, 'The Sea Within' does not blow me away completely, I don’t love all the songs. There was enough material to fill two CDs, but maybe I would have preferred one CD only with just the very best work on it. Anyway, I know that I'm pretty critical with progressive rock bands, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the album or thought it was bad. On the contrary, The Sea Within has delivered a great album with loads of quality and potential, I expect that the band will win many souls with this album. That said, there is room for improvement. The band is going on tour this year without a singer Gildenlöw, because he already has obligations with Pain Of Salvation, but luckily McPherson was available and will take care of all the vocal parts. I would definitely advise anyone to go and see the band if they are in the neighborhood and I would also advise the progressive rock fanatics to give the album a chance. Absolutely a good piece of music.