Compass are an interesting new UK band that does prog rock with a harder melodic edge, and features Steve Newman.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Compass (UK)
ALBUM: Our Time On Earth
LABEL: Escape Music
SERIAL: ESM 342
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Ben Green – vocals * Steve Newman – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals * Dave Bartlett – bass * Toni Lakush – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Skies Of Fire * 02 Our Time On Earth Pt I * 03 Caught In A Frame * 04 Neon * 05 The Preacher And The Pigeon Feeder * 06 Another Life Suicide * 07 A Warning From History * 08 Our Time on Earth Pt II
WEBLINKS: Site Link
An interesting album out of the UK, Compass features Steve Newman, who has been a regular here at Glory Daze over the past twenty years. The material with Compass is somewhat different to his usual fare, the style adopted here is mostly progressive rock oriented. Stepping outside his day job is not unusual for Steve, as he did this with Big Life which came out in 2011.
Steve’s ideas for Compass came toward the end of 2017, writing several songs outside of the usual Newman template. He bought in Ben Green on vocals bassist David Bartlett and drummer Toni Lakush hooking on from Newman. Recorded during 2019, it was released by Escape Music toward the end of April 2020.
There’s only eight tracks in total, but the music pans out to 60 minutes, individually some of these tracks are extended, but that’s fine by me because much of the material is super. It sits equally well if you are a melodic rock, AOR or prog rock fan.
The near 9 minute opener ‘Skies Of Fire’ is an impressive scene setter. When I listened to this, I didn’t even acknowledge the run-time, naturally it sounded like an extended melodic rock track which flowed effortlessly.
‘Our Time On Earth Pt I’ introduces with some lucid guitar lines (as if a Strymon pedal is at work) but it soon gives way to some chugging riffs that mostly occupies the 9 and a half minutes. Tempo changes abound, the arrangement shuffles on a dime, while guitars and keyboards chase each other around the notation chart.
‘Caught In A Frame’ comes across as a metal tune with a razors edge more than most. The rhythm section are let loose on this one. ‘Neon’ continues the ironclad delivery method with tough guitar lines and a robust back-end. The workflow of the song is given room to breathe though interestingly the keyboard usage is sparse, except on the chorus where they tend to be more prominent.
‘The Preacher And The Pigeon Feeder’ is certainly an unusual title, it also happens to be the album’s ballad moment with piano parts and guitar melodies filling in the spaces. It does undulate throughout, while it’s about time to mention vocalist Ben Green who is heard to great effect here, but right across the album so far. A star in the making? I think so.
‘Another Life Suicide’ finds Newman and Co striking the happy balance between melodic hard rock, metal and prog, though this veers toward the metallic side I’ll admit.
‘A Warning From History’ with its Presto Ballet flavoured organ work preceding matters kinda stunned me. Perfect, considering the lyrical content. And yes, we are at that historical point on our timeline where a few warnings from our past would not go amiss. At nearly 11 minutes, this is the longest track here, and my personal highlight.
‘Our Time On Earth Pt II’ concludes the album, as a power ballad of sorts, but it’s more than that to be honest. It wraps up everything nicely and by this stage I’m ready to queue it up for a second tasting!
‘Our Time On Earth’ is not an instant music mix that you can readily know all the answers to in the space in three minutes. And nor would you want to. No, you’ll need to dedicate a full hour to appreciate all of its secrets. Believe me when I say it’ll be worth your time.
There’s lots to discover, and it gives Steve a new angle in which to write music for, in much the same way that other musicians can pitch their songwriting based on different genres. A terrific album, and one that gets my hearty recommendation.
Our Time on Earth Pt I
Skies of Fire
Another Life Suicide
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[DEMONAOR] The COMPASS story began back in December 2017 when singer / songwriter Steve Newman decided to write a few songs that musically would step outside his own band Newman. Also Steve wouldn’t be singing either, instead he recruited Ben Green into the Compass fold. Rounding out the band are long time Newman bassist David Bartlett and drummer Toni Lakush. The album was recorded during 2019 and now gets a release under the title “Our Time On Earth“.
[George The Jack] I was listening to this last night on Spotify. That’s a surprising good album. Steve Newman released something different – a progressive rock album mixing elements of British prog rock (It Bites, Marillion) and others by Canadian masters such as Rush and Saga. The singer he appointed to sing the material is also exceptional. It’s well worth a listen. I’d say we’d rather have samey album covers than samey music and production patterns.
[George The Jack] For sure, I couldn’t argue against that.
[George The Jack] My favorites are the opener “Skies of fire” and the two parts of “Our life on earth”. However it”s also a consistent listen as a whole. 60min music just flows nicely with hardly anything tiresome or overplayed of note – not a given in this type of releases.