Pure Reason Revolution
Hammer and Anvil
I don't know why it's taken me so long to pick up the final Pure Reason Revolution album, but after a single listen it's clear that's my loss. You may already be aware of single 'Fight Fire', the most overtly confrontational tune the band have penned, as well as Valour EP and live favourite 'Black Mourning', but aside from that I'm of the impression that this was their least successful and least well-received. Why that should be, I have to admit, escapes me completely.
First off, it's worth dropping in the music geek cred point: this album, unlike PRR's previous work, was co-written with Tom Bellamy (ex-Cooper Temple Clause), and I don't think I'm imagining things when I say that this fact is felt throughout the album. The sounds and textures will be familiar to any fans of electronic offering Amor Vincit Omnia, but the way that the songs are structured as well as some of the chords definitely recall the Coopers, and save for expansive set-piece 'Open Insurrection', the song length feels distinctly restrained compared to previous outings.
Highlights come in the form of the aforementioned 'Open Insurrection', with its huge 'When the Levee Breaks' style drums, 'Patriarch', with its intricate synthesiser textures, and 'Last Man, Last Round' with its grinding samples and spaced-out pianos. 'Valour' delivers the most sweeping PRR chorus since 'In Aurélia' from their first EP, and has a similarly thrilling interplay between Chloe and Jon's vocals.
By the time 'Armistice' has faded, there's no doubt that this album is of equal quality to the rest of PRR's back catalogue, and that moreover it's a further step forward, building on the huge break that Amor Vincit Omnia represented. To fans of the whole Pure Reason back catalogue it's a must-own, but it also serves again to remind of the disconnect between their fan base and their ultimate ambition. For all their professed acceptance of 'progressive' music, it certainly feels like the more closed-minded prog fans that joined the PRR camp left them hung out to dry as soon as they began doing some more genuinely progressive material. Hammer & Anvil is the closest the band come to melding their progressive and electronic tendencies, yet it proved their swansong. Isn't that a little sad?