No difficult second album here

Messenger maintain the momentum they built up with debut album Illusory Blues with the release of second album Threnodies, hot on the heels of a well received tour with the Von Hertzen Brothers.

It’s fair to say that you can hear a lot of different influences in this album and at times it’s hard not to make a direct comparison; the vocal melody and harmony on Pareidolia for example could be lifted from any early 70s Pink Floyd album. What works for Messenger however, is that these influences are well spread out over the album and sometimes may only constitute a single verse or music passage, so that whilst recognisable, they don’t dominate the overall feel.

Opening track Calyx is a dreamy and ethereal beginning that builds slowly and that sets the feel for the album; packed full of dynamics and yet subtle in its delivery, it draws you perfectly into the Messenger world. They are a band that demand a little effort and attention to fully appreciate but it’s effort that is well rewarded. First impressions are that they are more interesting than catchy on the whole but that of course by implication sets them apart from many bands that follow a tried and tested formula.

That’s not to say that they don’t have catchy riffs, Oracles of War is exactly that, a really driven instrumental of catchy, full on psychedelic fused rock that shows Messenger can ramp it up when the mood takes them. Threnodies really is one of those albums that make you feel like you’ve been on a journey; it twists and turns, engages and involves the listener. At the end of the first listen it’s not a case of thinking it’s immediately brilliant, it’s more that you need to listen to it again in order to understand exactly what’s going on and to let it seep slowly into your consciousness.

The album tails off a little in terms of energy towards the end and Crown of Ashes finishes proceedings in a rather downbeat and understated way but it feels like the right thing to do and is part of the reason why you want to play the album again straight away. Threnodies is possibly the definitive example of a ‘grower’, the more you play it the more you discover and the more there is to like. Five or ten years ago you would have placed Messenger alongside bands like Cooper Temple Clause and Pure Reason revolution but with both now defunct, Messenger are carving out their own niche and doing it in fine style.