"Cleo" (Blindfoldead International; 2021)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Cleo," by Swedish rockers Flight of Icarus, is a sweeping, progressive rock album with an epic sound. It's one of those albums that's bigger than life, bursting forth from your speakers (or ear buds, etc.) with a wall of sound that tumbles over you like an ocean wave.

"Cleo" begins with a very cinematic instrumental track, appropriately entitled "In the Beginning," a track could have come off the soundtrack of "Top Gun." You know, the scene where the pilots come walking toward the camera in slow motion? The track builds as it goes along, segueing nicely into track two, "Our Burning Star," another track that starts out with some gentle keyboards and then, at about the thirty second mark, explodes with sound.

For the most part, the vocals are supplied by Elisabeth Särnefält Rösehag, whose voice has one of those angelic, soaring tones that can really belt the power out when necessary but is just as effective, and as beautiful, when things slow down (as on "We All Die Young." (Ted Gärdestad provides additional vocals on the Swedish-language track "Come Give Me Love.) Elisabeth's partner, Oskar Frantzén, provides guitars, bass, keyboards and backing vocals.

Also worth mentioning is the band's storytelling prowess. "Cleo" is very strong lyrically, and words are especially important on the appropriately entitled, and spoken word, "The Cleo Story." I'm not sure who does the narrating here but it's well done and fits the album surprisingly well.

On their Facebook page, the band states that they "make music for people who dare to believe in unicorns." That positivity and sense of joy is evident throughout "Cleo" and fans of expansive progressive rock and musical storytelling of that attitude will find a lot to hold their interest on "Cleo."

For more information, check out https://www.facebook.com/flightoficarusband/.  

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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