Drifting Sun – Veil (2024)


After the brilliant 2021 album Forsaken Innocence, Drifting Sun is back with a new album, Veil. As you can see on my favourites page, I'm a big fan of the band around the gifted composer and keyboardist Pat Ganger Sanders and the aforementioned album together with Twillight (2017) has been in my list of favourite albums for years. So expectations were high.

Drifting Sun wouldn't be Drifting Sun if there weren't some personnel changes again, but this time only two. The drum stool has been taken over by old acquaintance Fudge Smith who has played with Pendragon for years and he is a very good, solid drummer. On guitar, however, a bigger change can be heard, Mathieu Spaeter has made way for Ralph Cardall and that is a big difference. Personally, I'm a big fan of Spaeter's guitar playing, so I was very curious to see how the change would turn out. Well, it leaves me with some mixed feelings, Cardall is a good guitarist who’s play leans more to the standard rock direction but also plays very technically. He does have quite a different sound than his predecessor, a little less appealing to me, but he does play some very nice solos. I am very happy with the fact that Jargon is again the singer because his voice and intonation suit me very well and again he sings with a lot of feeling. John Jowitt can be heard on bass again and that's always good, he remains one of my favourite bass players.

What I think is quite special is the fact that it doesn't really matter who plays which instrument because there is always something very recognizable in the way of composing and Pat knows how to leave his mark on every album with dazzling and virtuoso keyboard playing. On Veil you can hear two short instrumentals in which he shows that he is a trained pianist. It might be nice for the peace and quiet on the album, but I wouldn't miss them very much. Sorry Pat!

There were already three tracks from Veil to be heard before the release and these are all wonderful songs that, despite the somewhat shorter playing time, are full of proggie moments, The old Man is a song of just over five minutes with a slow, quiet build-up with a typical Sanders melody and a great minute-long guitar solo. This could have taken even longer for me, but alas. Eros and Psyche is also a wonderful Drifting Sun song with a similar build-up. The calm opening on piano with an emotionally singing Jargon eventually leads to a dazzling finale with again very beautiful guitar work by Cardall. Through the Veil is also quite short but contains wonderful solos on guitar and keyboards and is really neoprog through and through. (Yes, I keep using the term)

Where predecessor Forsaken Innocence contains some very long epics, Veil has some more compact songs. In that respect, it is more in line with Twillight and let that be my favourite Drifting Sun album. Yet there is also a longer song on this album and that is Frailty. More than twelve minutes of top prog with alternating accessible pieces, but also some spicier passages where the melody is sometimes a bit difficult to follow but eventually grabs you again. Of course, the wonderful solos on keys and guitar are not lacking. The violin of Suzi James can also be heard, which is a real addition and in this song a choir can be heard consisting of a few Greek friends of Jargon. That Sanders doesn't always take the easy way out can be heard in the somewhat longer The Thing. Despite the brooding nature of this track, the melody is not always the most obvious and that is sometimes quite a challenge for the listener. After several listens, however, this track falls into place for me and I think it's one of the most beautiful songs on the album.

Something I have to get off my chest is the following, to listen to the album as a whole with (even) more pleasure, I personally would have chosen a different order of songs. Of course this is not up to me but I would like the flow of the album better. The last song Cirkus is the least song on the album for me and I just can't really get into it, maybe because the fact that the melody is very busy and quite unruly. But I will keep on trying and hope that it will sink in some daty. In this song there is a choir too in which many people have participated, including Charlie Bramald, where does this man not participate in? The violin also joins in but in this song it only makes things busier and more inaccessible. I'd rather hear Frailty as the closing track because the album deserves a grand finale.

For the seasoned fans of Drifting Sun, and I count myself among them, Veil is a great album and a real addition to the existing repertoire. For me, Twilight remains my favourite album with Forsaken Innocence right behind it, but Veil will be on the podium too and closes in with the top. It is an album that can still grow on me and may rise after more getting used to it, but to be honest, I do miss Spaeter's guitar playing. Again, Cardall is a very good guitarist but it's mainly his sound that I have to get used to, I don't really like wah-wah pedals.

For the people who are not yet convinced of the music of Drifting Sun, Veil could be a good starting point, because folks, this is really beautiful music that just requires a little more attention from the listener and you just have to hear it more often. For now my number 1 of this year, but the year is still long and there are still some great things to come but the album will be in the top of my annual list for sure!

For the connoisseurs the cover is understandable, we see Mr. Splodge looking out on a bright colour palette that could represent anything from a new world to some galaxy far away. Objectively, and this is difficult, I think it is a bit simple when compared to the previous covers. The new logo is fine though.

Music 90

Cover 65