CRYSTAL PALACE – Still There (2022)

CRYSTAL PALACE - Still There (2022) full

German act CRYSTAL PALACE are one of the many bands that have been around long enough to merit a description as veterans. This 4-piece has been an ongoing venture for 30 years at this point, and in the last few years it would appear that they have started to gain more recognition as well. “Still There” is their ninth studio production which, by and large, is excellent Neo Prog of the Germanic variety.
The new album sees them with a more melodic/streamlined sound than on previous offerings. The usual ingredients are all there, refined instrumental passages and time changes, but what I find very palatable about this album is the emphasis on melody. This is something that a lot of Prog bands seem to forget about these days whilst noodling along endlessly.
With their influences liberally sprinkled throughout the album, think early Dream Theater in places as well as Steven Wilson, with a smidgen of 1990’s QueensrÓ±che thrown in for good measure. This is anything but an album that sounds derivative of these bands though.

The vocals are often to the fore, especially when they are playing in a more atmospheric style, but it is the dynamic contrasts between the different styles that really make this album stand out. I am a little surprised that the instrumental passages aren’t longer and more frequent, given that singer Jens Uwe Strutz is also the bassist in this quartet, but as it is there is an interesting balance.

Very much putting their own stamp on proceedings, from the instrumental opener ‘126 Steps’ through to closer title track ‘Still There’, this album never loses sight of what they do best.
All over the record there’s a fine blend of both guitars and keys which highlights their strengths; throughout the various sections the essence of melody is never lost at any time. On some tracks we hear melancholic passages echoing the work of Wilson, while some songs are bordering on Melodic Rock/AOR which they pull off marvelously.

This comes across as an incredibly polished and well performed album, and given CRYSTAL PALACE are celebrating their 30th anniversary perhaps that should be expected, although it should be noted that only Jens (back then just providing bass) is currently the only founding member remaining.
This is a solid, at places captivating album that definitely takes me back into the early Nineties, while also being relevant for today; it’s timeless melodic neo prog, juicy and accessible at the same time.
Highly Recommended


01 – 126 Steps
02 – Leaving This Land
03 – A Plan
04 – Winters End
05 – Dear Mother
06 – Planned Obsolenscence
07 – Orange Popsicle Sky
08 – Shadows
09 – A Scream From The Wall
10 – These Stairs
11 – The Unquiet Window
12 – Still There

Jens Uwe Strutz – vocals, bass
Nils Conrad – guitars
Frank Kohler – keyboards
Tom Ronney – drums



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