POEM – Unique
We all need a challenge from time to time, right? So here’s mine for today: How to describe music, that makes you happy beyond words? Those of you who know me for a while might be aware of my affection for the Greek progband POEM, but for the interested readers who are not yet familiar with them, here we go: The quartet is heading from Athens, was formed in 2006, and released three albums so far. While the debut “The Great Secret Show” (2009) was more experimental with an interesting mix of styles, the band developed their very own sound over the years. With the second album “Skein Syndrome” (2016) – which is brilliant by the way – they became a strong unit, and a certain melancholy could be felt into the music from now on. The third record “Unique” was released on March 27th 2018, and as it turns three years now, I decided to do this throwback review – In appreciation for my aoty2018, and in anticipation of their new music 🙂
The amazing cover artwork by Jor Art shows a surrealistic picture with the album’s protagonist: A person with a different mental state, whom society would call fragile or problematic. The album concept is loosely centered around his thoughts and inner fights, but it also deals with the uniqueness inside all of us. We seek for it, but stick to collective norms at the same time. “Unique” and “real” can be subjective, and the protagonist struggles with his own reality and how it is seen by those around him.
These struggles can be felt into the music with an intensity, that runs through all songs. What stands out from the beginning is the impressive rhythmic, that offers an incredible variety, yet supports the music perfectly. The fantastic drumming and the strong bass lines bring in a great dynamic, so do the guitars by building up their complex song structures. On top of this, singer George Prokopiou lays his melody lines with a phenomenal range and an expression which is mind blowing. The opening track “False Morality” demonstrates this already in a great way, as well as the following “My Own Disorder”: there’s a special energy from the first second, created by the perfect interplay of the above-mentioned elements.
“Four Cornered God” changes mood by starting with a chunky riff, then drifts into a more melodic part, alternating with heavier sections. The following “Discipline” comes up with challenging time signatures, while the song moves straight forward. Sometimes the music slows down, just to “explode” afterwards. “Euthanasia” starts smooth, but builds up more and more tension along the way. The music grows in waves, slowly but constantly to carry the listener away.
Next up is the title track, which is the most peaceful here: the beautiful melody leads through the song, takes its time to develop in a mesmerizing way. The album closes with the incredible “Brightness of Loss”: How would the madman feel if he understood that his world is not real? How would loss have helped him understand the brightness of freedom and clarity? Give it a spin to find out 😉
I’m aware that listening to music is something very individual, and one never knows, whether and how the work of an artist connects with you or not. Talking for myself, POEM became a real treasure over the past years, and even though I spent countless hours with their albums, they are still growing. There is an incredible dynamic within their songs, all elements flow naturally into each other, but always on a high technical level and with impressive musicianship. The expressive vocals and striking rhythmic appeal to me in a special way, so does the melancholy that can be felt throughout their efforts. So I can only end up with the recommendation to check them out, if you haven’t done yet 🙂
George Prokopiou – Vocals, Guitar
Laurence Bergström – Guitar
Stavros Rigos – Drums
Takis Foitos – Bass
1. False Morality
2. My Own Disorder
3. Four Cornered God
7. Brightness of Loss
The Great Secret Show – 2008 (Dromos Records)
Skein Syndrome – 2016 (ViciSolum Productions)
Unique – 2018 (ViciSolum Productions)