What the reviewers are saying...
We thought you'd like to know what the press (both on- and offline) are saying about Altitude, so we're gathering the reviews on this page. We've translated the extracts into English where appropriate, and provided links so you can read the full review in situ. These are all just extracts, so we encourage you to visit the reviewers' sites and see what else they have to say.
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Brad Kesner in SFL Music Magazine
A lot of love has gone into the production of this album and it shows with every note. The album starts with the title song “Altitude” and at a little over 15 minutes it is a true Progressive Rock epic, beautifully mellow, and with nice transitions throughout. John Young is a classically trained vocalist and pianist and his glorious vocals and keyboards throughout the album reflect that. “Altitude” is a beautiful melodic prog song and with John’s vocals, I felt the spirit of the best of the Moody Blues or Alan Parsons flowing through the song, particularly about nine minutes or so into the song giving some goose bump moments. John has a rare talent as a story teller and most definitely is an excellent song writer.
The remaining songs (which run from four minutes to ten minutes) continue seamlessly through the balance of the album. Stand out songs are “Ivory Tower” which is absolutely beautiful, and I love the jazzy feel of “Shoreline”. “Gregarious” has an Alan Parsons and Supertramp feel to it, but is unique in John’s own way.
Bottom line, I love the whole album. This is a complex album and it must be listened to as a whole in order to fully appreciate it. There are a lot of nuances and upon repeated listens, you will find this album growing on you more and more.
Also available (in English) in the Italian magazine MUSIC REVUE: https://www.musicrevue.it/l/lifesigns-reaches-even-higher-altitudes-by-brad-kesner-photos-by-martin-reijman-brett-wilde-lifesigns
Spanish translation in Mellotron magazine (Argentina): https://mellotronweb.com.ar/lifesignsentrevistajohnyoung.html
This album really is something incredibly special indeed, for Lifesigns have realised their potential with a recording that will elevate them and their standing in the progressive rock world to hitherto unknown heights and, hopefully, making them a far bigger draw than they have previously experienced.
Exceptionally fine soloing from both John Young on keyboards and Dave Bainbridge’s soulful guitar. Dave who, it must be said, is really on form on this entire album. In my opinion, Lifesigns finally have a guitarist who can do their music justice and has brought something a little extra to the equation.
I have to say the sound of this album is simply fabulous and is a real treat for the ears and there is so much more to listen to that is revealed the more you delve into it.
I really think that Lifesigns have taken a massive step forward with this album, good as ‘Cardington’ was, this release is so very much better in my opinion.
The Prog Report
Only a rare breed of composers can write music with The Glow – they are very few and far between. In fact you can count them on one hand, and John Young is one of them. Young knows how to speak to every Progger’s melodic desires. His compositions are soulful, varied, epic and utterly glorious in their musicality. ‘Altitude’ is a collection of eight celestial compositions that not only confer The Glow – they positively soar into Heaven
‘Last One Home’ is one of the most heart-wrenching ballads you will hear this year. Young’s voice is exposed to its full heavenly potential here, but it is Bainbridge’s glowing solo that will really make you sit up in wonder. This underrated guitarist delivers a moment of musical Zen that is as good as anything you have heard from a Rothery, Rabin, Gilmour or Howe. Take a bow, Mr Bainbridge – you have made the angels sob in the best possible way.
‘Altitude’ may well be Lifesigns’ finest release yet. John Young has outdone himself with these compositions, the band members have furnished divine performances that glide like gossamer wings, and Rispin has delivered a production that is the stuff of miracles.
Will you feel that glowing warmth in your stomach? Butterflies in your gut? Endorphins in your blood? You can absolutely count on it.
Lifesigns is one of those fortunate bands who seem to effortlessly make fans for life. The challenge before the group is not so much about winning over their potential audience, it’s more about just getting in their ears. The rest seems to take care of itself.
“Altitude” follows the general sonic approach of predecessor “Cardington”, offering engaging yet accessible material with plenty of musical muscle that goes down smoothly thanks to its sleek production, almost a Steely Dan of prog.
“Fortitude”, one of the album’s several highlights, stretches out for over ten minutes. Often insistently driving, Young’s vocals still carry a touch of vulnerability, such as with four memorable falsetto hits which eventually lead to his final line, “Sometimes I feel like it’s all just a dream…”. What follows is a closing three minutes of instrumental prog bliss, heavy on bass pedals and pedaling bass underneath, while keyboards and guitar wail above. More, please.
Usually a prog “epic” connotes an album-side multi-suite journey but somehow “Last One Home” still qualifies even though its run-time is only just over six minutes. Surely Bainbridge must have had a similar feeling as Guthrie Govan did when Steven Wilson presented him with a lengthy section in “Drive Home” to solo over, with a clear invitation to live into his destiny as a Guitar God. Of course, Bainbridge is up for the challenge and delivers astoundingly.
Prog Critique (in French)
A bit like Asia, the melodic themes hook you almost instantly. Unlike Asia, however, the music is much more developed and sophisticated.
Grandiose UK-style prog, with an instantly recognisable melody and harmonic style: it's Lifesigns, and it's the best. This high-flying quartet brilliantly perpetuates the long lineage of English symphonic prog. Sumptuous!
The third studio album from the melodically progressive Lifesigns showcases a band who have now truly found their identity and sound. Special mention here for fifth member/sound guru Steve Rispin who has delivered a sonically seamless work.
'Gregarious', like 'Impossible' from Cardington, is the album’s pop-rock moment.
Flitting from fun, theatrically framed verses to quirky little instrumental passages 'Gregarious' features some tasty Queen/May-esque rock guitar from Dave Bainbridge and vocally delightful backing from Lynsey Ward.
'Shoreline,' built atop Zoltán Csörsz’s shifting rhythm and Jon Poole’s distinct bass lines, is the jazziest number on the album yet remains wholly accessible through reflective passages, melodically charged chorus cries of "Save me!" and Dave Bainbridge delivering in fine six-string style atop the pacey, Csörsz-Poole driven conclusion. 'Shoreline' is also a fine example of Lifesigns being able to conjure up moments of Lukather/Toto one minute and a band such as UK (there are definite comparisons to the latter) the next.
Altitude requires multiple plays to get the best out of its subtleties and shades, but the end result is an album that’s as lofty as its title.
Altitude is already at the top of my of ‘best of the year’ list. A prog album that avoids all of the excesses of the genre and produces many moments of brilliance and musical inspiration.
The opener is substantial at fifteen minutes plus, but never sounds bloated or pretentious, a trap that many progressive rock projects fall prey to.
John Young immediately calls to mind both Jon Anderson and Sting in style and timbre, never sounding imitative of either. On all too many prog albums the vocals are not up to the quality of the playing – not so here.
The drumming (Zoltan Csorsz) is tasteful, expressive, propelling, and properly driving, the bass (Jon Poole) is alternately lyrical and often quite juicy and pumping. Young’s keyboard work is melodic and textured, with some outstanding solo moments, and the guitar work (Dave Bainbridge) is fluid, emotional, gutsy, and inspiring.
The second track, “Gregarious,’ literally stopped me (and my wife, who was also listening) in my tracks. It’s a bit of classic rock-inspired prog/pop that’s about as perfect a four and a-half minutes as you’ll hear anywhere. If there’s a radio-ready single from Altitude, this is it.
There is a lot of musical variety contained on Altitude. The songs are accessible and melodic, but in many ways it feels like the most adventurous Lifesigns release. The music is very BIG in its scope.
There is an effective fusion slant to some of the instrumentation here that reminded me favourably of the legendary debut by the band, U.K. Singer and keyboardist John Young is a songwriter of note who can pen an indelible composition with the best of them.
Upon my first listen to this epic song [Altitude], I was immediately swept up in its visual story-telling, majestic themes and note-perfect performances. The band has an ability to create music that feels expansive. Yet it strives mostly on the vast power of a simple melody. A special mention goes to violinist Peter Knight, whose solo closes this track in a stunning and memorable fashion.
Last One Home and the brilliant Fortitude are adventurous in structure and feature some truly outstanding instrumentation. Also, the concept around survival that runs throughout the album is powerfully executed.
Altitude is an essential album for the most basic of reasons; the songs on it are truly exceptional. It is an album that can stand proudly with classics of the symphonic prog genre.
Progwereld (in Dutch)
The new Lifesigns is addictive and brilliant.
What makes Lifesigns so good is that the band with John Young has a thoroughbred musician in its ranks who knows what it is like to write a song. He knows better than anyone how to hold onto the subtle line between prog and pop.
Everything is in service of the melody. The music is and remains the typical English prog. Pastoral sympho in the atmosphere of Genesis and Camel, for example.
But the most important thing for me is that I want to listen to “Altitude” over and over again. And that is mainly due to the great melodies, the emotion and the musical craftsmanship.
With “Altitude” these English gentlemen surpass themselves. For me this is an ode to symphonic rock. A great record. Plus, and in the end, the music touches me. This is music where the emphasis is really on beautiful melodies. And that makes the record addictive. You know, I just put it on again!
The Prog Yak
This album continues with their magical mix of prog dynamics and strong melody, but goes to even richer places than they’ve gone before. Of particular note is the solidifying of Dave Bainbridge on lead guitar. His guitar work really hits home throughout this album, particularly on Last One Home. You know those chills you get hearing Gilmour play in the crescendo of Comfortably Numb…yeah, it’s like that! …chills...
If you’re not yet familiar with Lifesigns, you really need to be! This is the best album we’ve reviewed so far for 2021, and I’m sure we’ll see it in the top 5 by year’s end.
Glenn Williams Music Writer in Japan
Each track has its own character and it’s tempting to write a track-by-track analogy for the album but that would spoil your fun on the first listening and trust me, you are in for a real treat (as is your hi-fi) when you hit the play button. Produced by John Young and Steve Rispin it’s also one the finest sounding albums I’ve heard for years with so much space between the instruments and even the notes of a particular instrument that the album seems to breathe.
Altitude is a tapestry of delights ranging from the radio-friendly to the wistfully ambient, each sound as sonically pleasing as it could possibly be so I shall say no more except to sum up thus: this album represents the best of old-school Prog and the best of the New Prog rockers.
Progressive Rock has finally progressed.
MLWZ (in Polish)
Here is a great album, close to perfection.
There is no unnecessary note on this release, there are no unnecessary sounds
Altitude is an outstanding album
John Young should be proud of the final result. "Altitude" is a dream album. I think I already have my album of the year. In any case, I know for sure that it will be difficult for anyone not just to beat it, but even get close to his level.