OK, so here’s the deal: you don’t have to be a prog fan to really enjoy this album. Now I don’t mind a little prog here and there but I wouldn’t call myself a fan as such. However, this album is sublime.
Southampton-based band Kepler Ten are formed of James Durand (vocals, bass, keyboard), Richie Cahill (guitars) and Steve Hales (drums, keyboard). They recorded this shiny new debut album at their own studios in Hampshire and it was later mixed and mastered by John Mitchell (Enter Shikari, You Me At Six) at Outhouse Studios in Reading. John Mitchell is also the co-founder of White Star Records to which the band have just signed.
On first listen I just can’t believe this is a debut. It has me wanting to research the uber-talented trio to see what previous bands they have been in, surely one of them was in Yes or Rush? I’m certain they are not quite old enough to be in either, but it got me wondering. I did find out that the band were a very accomplished Rush covers band in a previous life so perhaps that explains it.
So we unlock this gem with “Ultraviolet” which starts full of atmosphere with a touch of psychedelia before we get into the opening piano riff which lays out the chords for the remaining song, then James’ engaging vocals begin. All of a sudden the song is unleashed into a fast paced riff-filled rock riot so we’re left in no doubt that there are some powerful heavy rock influences at play here. Guitarist Richie Cahill gives us a masterclass in shredding and solos and, with some electronic assistance, the track creates a unique blend of prog, psych and metal with a synth twist to tempt all tastes.
Lead single “Time and Tide” has been my ear worm day and night for the last few days. It’s not just a catchy number as such, it seems to take a hold of you on a deeper level than just a memorable melody; the relatable lyrics assist in the process. It’s simply epic. The effervescent opening bassline for one thing draws you in to see what the rest of the song is going to deliver, and it delivers everything and more; thunderous drumming, serious riffage and a chorus to die for. You can watch James’s fingers going for it from the fret-cam housed on his headless bass in the video below.
There is something ‘Pete Townsend-y’ about James’ vocals and this first becomes apparent to me on thoroughly enjoyable track “The Stone”. You can also hear the sheer joy that Richie clearly gets from playing soaring solos, transmitted here through the strings.
The slow beginning to “Swallowtail” creates an ethereal, melancholy beauty which remains through the song before we get into a more classic prog sound with strings and synth bubbling over but still keeping a lingering root within hard rock.
Both “The Shallows” and “In the Sere and Yellow” continue to seamlessly blend the prog/psych/hard rock sound with some identifiable Rush elements thrown in for good measure.
Album closer “Red Skies Rise” dishes up a large dose of astronomical atmosphere. The astronomy theme is reflected both in the band’s own name (Kepler-10 is a sun-like star orbited by two rocky planets) and album title (Delta-v is a measurement used in spacecraft manoeuvring) and it merges perfectly with the music. This epic 10-minute track brings the album to a colossal close with no stone left unturned.
So even if you don’t consider yourself to be a fan of prog music per sé, I can thoroughly vouch for this astral delight of a record and urge you to make room for this in your collection.
Delta-v comes out on 10th February