Published on 16th March 2019
The Room – Caught by the Machine
Caught by the Machine is the new album from U.K. outfit The Room, who hail from the south of England and is their first release for the White Star label, run by John Mitchell (It Bites, Kino & others). The music is very AOR in places, but with definite progressive rock leanings, especially on the longer tracks.
The Room have released two previous albums and a live in concert DVD, however this is the first album with the current line-up, which includes Eric Bouillotte on guitar and violin. The band emerged from the earlier Grey Lady Down who were active in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The album kicks off in energetic style with Bodies In The Road, which has a surging guitar riff and Martin Wilson clear vocal delivery. With a fairly AOR sound, this is a belter of an opener – very catchy with a memorable chorus and sounding a little like FM. It features a fine fiery solo from Eric, and oozes with promise for what rapidly becomes a very strong contemporary prog album. One can hear John Mitchell’s influence on this, in the clear, crisp sound and great mix.
Following this is Run, opening with staccato guitar, before entering a mid-paced, but still retaining an urgent stride. Once again with a fine vocal raises the song into something rather special, great lyrics and great sound makes it another strong track. There are lovely keyboard embellishments throughout and another epic guitar break. What I like about this album is that the band aren’t afraid to use dynamics to elevate their music into something that has class and intelligence. Coupled with their excellent all-round musicianship, makes this a very worthwhile album, and one that gets better the more time you spend with it.
The single Broken has a new wave style to it, very rhythmic, musically short and sharp – a great three-minute wonder, with another sturdy vocal from Martin. There is also a great video for this song too.
The longer The Golden Ones, runs to over six minutes and gives the song room to breathe, and time for the band to stretch out somewhat. Also, it reveals just how splendid a singer Martin Wilson is, and he certainly comes into his own here and throughout this all-round great album.
Just Walk Away is another fabulous song, slightly shorter but no less energetic or engrossing, with more tasty guitar from Eric. Then it’s on to the longest track, Drowning In Sound, featuring Kim Seviour on vocals. Opening with some gentle and dreamy acoustic guitar parts, before a rather meaty riff is introduced, showing the songs teeth as it tells the story of a girl who has lost her love to mental illness, or possibly PTSD. Something certainly went wrong many years ago, having a major effect on her life. There’s a fine chorus and great guitar before a softer keyboard element is introduced, Kim sings beautifully, adding her own edge to proceedings. This is the first of four longer tracks – back to back, all have merit and there is no filler on this album at all.
Clover follows, Martin’s voice having echoes of The Beautiful South in a gentle song, albeit with a rock backing, also boasting a fine chorus in a very memorable song. His voice works well on this one, more great keyboard and guitar interplay featuring with another very fluid guitar solo, after which Martin’s voice returns to its normal tones temporarily. There’s another guitar workout which shows some great chops and use of melody bringing the song to a fine climax. Definitely one of the best of a good bunch of songs.
The final trio of songs starts with Vanished, another lengthy piece, opening with arpeggio guitar chords, however somehow this song struggles to reach the heights of earlier tracks, and whilst it’s fine of itself, I feel that it lacks something to elevate it from the decent to excellent. Not even two very Gilmourish guitar breaks can rescue it.
It’s Not My Home at over eight minutes again has time to breathe nicely, from the sound of children playing, a drumbeat, keyboards and a chiming guitar line before Martin’s assured vocals begin. Underscored by organ it all sounds fine, a return to form after the disappointment of the previous track. More excellent guitar work from Eric. The final song Bloodstream opens with gentle keyboards, before a monstrous riff adds to the chugging, ringing guitar parts and driving bass line. The dynamics drive the song along nicely, a tasty way to end the album.
I have to say I’ve been greatly impressed by what I’ve heard, Caught by the Machine is a fine album and certainly well worth hearing. The Room have made a very strong modern rock/prog album here and I hope it gets the acclaim that it deserves.
Good songs, great musicianship, good ideas and production. What’s not to enjoy? Highly recommended!
01. Bodies on the Road (5:08)
02. Run (5:50)
03. Broken (3:07)
04. The Golden Ones (6:16)
05. Just Walk Away (5:15)
06. Drowning in Sound (8:40)
07. Clover (7:14)
08. Vanished (7:45)
09. It’s Not My Home (8:04)
10. Bloodstream (5:01)
Total Time – 62:34
Steve Anderson – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Eric Bouillotte – Guitar, Violin
Mark Dixon – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Andy Rowe – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Martin Wilson – Lead Vocals
Chris York – Drums, Backing Vocals
Record Label: White Star Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 22nd February 2019