Natural Satellite

25 Yard Screamer

25 YARD SCREAMER is a Welsh Progressive Rock band from the United Kingdom formed in […]
By Santiago Puyol
September 17, 2019
25 Yard Screamer - Natural Satellite album cover

25 YARD SCREAMER is a Welsh Progressive Rock band from the United Kingdom formed in 2002. "Natural Satellite" is their fifth record, following their 2011 release "Until All Are One". They mix a Retro Progressive style with some modern influences from both Alternative Rock, Electronica and a bit of Metal, following on the footsteps of bands like PORCUPINE TREE. "Natural Satellite" is a long album, filled with lengthy compositions.

"The Storyteller" is an eight-minute exercise on building atmosphere. It opens with a myriad of weird sounds and noises, before a Steven Wilson-indebt melody enters. Nick James' vocals take on a melodramatic Thom Yorke-esque approach while Matt Clarke provides a funky bassline. The song ends up on a euphoric finale, before descending into a weird EDM outro that does not entirely fit.

"Devastate" takes on a more restrained path, being heavier on the Alternative Rock influences with its nostalgic feel. It has some great synth work and interesting bass runs, with PORCUPINE TREE and MARILLION as clear references. An explosive last third brings it to an emotional ending.

The first of the two epics here, "The Silent Rising" starts quite promising but falls prey to some excesses from the band. Although there is some catchy, heavy riffing throughout and a bit of beautiful acoustic guitar in the middle section, it gets too chaotic for its own good towards the end. The cymbal tone is too noisy, especially when mixed too loud on the high-end, while some of the vocal effects are simply a baffling production choice. Despite this, Nick James steals the show, taking on a vocal style more reminiscent of Steve Hogarth from MARILLION.

"A Space Where Someone Should Be" opens with a dramatic spoken word intro and some beautiful yet eerie synth work. It ebbs and flows, taking on a Post-Rock songwriting approach. Its intricate and textured drum work with Electronic flourishes add pulsating energy to its unsettling vibe. It functions perfectly as the centerpiece of the album, also being, without a doubt, the best long track here. The mixing is almost flawless, even if still carrying with the muddy tone of the record. It starts to unravel towards the end in a precise, calculated way.

Bringing some Pop sensibilities to the forefront, "While We Are" feels like A-HA on steroids. As with "Devastate", it is another good example of restraint as quality. It features some strong PINK FLOYD and MARILLION influences too, with a bit of Steve Rothery-inspired soloing - albeit edgier - provided by James. Its Metal-tinged outro gets lost on unnecessary fade-out, but that doesn't hurt the song as a whole.

The heaviest track on the album, "Never in the Detail", follows. It is a RUSH-esque song with an epic guitar solo by guest Jeff Rees. Although not as immediate as "Devastate" or "While We Are", it still displays how the band works better with middle-length tracks.

"Coda Jeremiah" begins with a melancholic, bass-driven section, filled with '70s Prog influences. There is some hypnotic layering and build-up, while psychedelic vocal effects fit the mood quite well. That last about three minutes, before dissolving into pure noise. An abrupt electronic section starts four and a half minutes in. Although the nice bass groove provided by Matt Clarke does it best to keep the track together, this section does not fit entirely. Overall, some minor editing could make the track flow better.

There is a lot to like and love in "Natural Satellite", but two major issues plague the album. On one hand, production is very uneven and volatile, feeling very amateurish at times and quite good at others. The album features some really weird mixing, with the volume of individual instruments going up and down without clear purpose. In addition, it does get rather muddy, making it hard to appreciate the music as one should.

On the other hand, 25 YARD SCREAMER seem to suffer from the overachieving ambition associated with Prog bands. In their defense, even the Prog giants from all eras have gotten into this problem. Although not tiring, "Natural Satellite" feels overlong. The band shows so many notable ideas over these seven tracks, but they come in bits and pieces or are sandwiched between meandering noodling and unnecessary repetition. Exercising more focus and restraint, they could be making some great Retro Prog with a modern edge.

6 / 10

Had Potential








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"Natural Satellite" Track-listing:

1. The Storyteller
2. Devastate
3. The Silent Rising
4. A Space Where Someone Should Be
5. While We Are
6. Never in the Detail
7. Coda Jeremiah

25 Yard Screamer Lineup:

Matt Clarke - Bass
Nick James - Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
Donal Owen - Drums
Rob Reed - Keyboards
Abbi James - Spoken word & Backing Vocals
Aled Bryn Pennock - Spoken word
Jeff Rees - Lead Guitar on "Never in the Detail"

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