Wow! After Martigan in 2009, we’ve got again a winner from Germany here! Jack Yello released in 2003 their debut album Thorns Of Anger, but their follow-up album Xeric impressed me a lot more! This album contains everything that I like to hear, as far as progressive rock is concerned. I already mentioned Martigan, because Xeric strongly reminds me of Vision, my favourite album of 2009. On Vision I could also dream away on the many outstanding instrumental parts and the excellent male vocal contributions. Music wise Jack Yello moves very much in the direction of Genesis during the era of A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering (1975-76). However, the music of Martigan has been influenced a lot by the albums Fish made with Marillion, but Marillion has influenced Jack Yello as well, I guess.
These influences already existed on Jack Yello’s debut album on which lead singer Dirk Bovensiepe sounded as Derek William Dick also known as Fish. On the other hand, Thorns Of Anger contained heavier guitar parts than Xeric, their second album. Their debut was certainly worth listening, but I think that the new songs have a higher quality level. When you compare the two albums, it’s evident that the band has grown over the last six years. The sabbatical years after the release of their debut and the several tours in Germany, The Netherlands, France and Switzerland ended in 2007. Then they started to work on Xeric. This fresh start resulted in a much better sounding album with only highlights. Indeed, it’s difficult to mention favourite songs, just because I couldn’t find one. All pieces are superb with excellent singing. The guitar solos by Lutz Grosser and the synthesizer solos by Uwe Ziegler are outstanding and not of this world! While listening to it, I felt as if I came from another planet... The three years they used to write and record the songs for Xeric were well-spent. They kept in mind how the first album was made, but not only music wise. The lyrics have a certain link with each other as well. Some of the songs on the first album got a follow-up on the second one. For example Faces To Faces is the final track on Thorns Of Anger, but it gets a sequel on Xeric.
Just like on their first album Jack Yello spent much time to create fine art work for the cover and the booklet. So, not only the music on this album is top-notch! All lyrics have been printed in the booklet and come along with a beautiful picture or painting. Just great! All together: I rate this album with the highest score of five stars for the music, the musicianship and the art work. Calling Xeric a five star record or a masterpiece is the only appellation I can think of for such a fine release. This album is highly recommended to people who enjoy the music of Genesis, Marillion, Martigan and all other great bands that play neo-progressive rock music.
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)