SUNCHILD – Exotic Creatures and a Stolen Dream [bonus tracks edition] (2023)

SUNCHILD - Exotic Creatures and a Stolen Dream [bonus tracks edition] (2023) - full

Exotic Creatures and a Stolen Dream” is a wonderful chance for lovers of classic progressive rock to sink themselves into the work of SUNCHILD, and the band’s chief architect songwriter / vocalist Antony Kalugin. The band was formed fifteen years ago and released various album but gain notoriety with their recent outstanding live performances / European tour.
Antony is clearly a very skilled craftsman of song and instrumentation. This album hits all the usual boxes – epic length compositions, lots of keyboards, soaring guitar solos, extended storylines, theatric delivery, you get the picture.
However, all over the album there’s a certain Rock&pop sensibility as well, and the soundscape is a bit more electrified and modern the your traditional prog. It’s all very melodic as whole, and easily listenable.

‘Life Lines’ (26:26) is a bold and ambitious multi-part modern prog epic. There’s a catchy intensity right from the start, a feeling of grandiosity. Antony does strong lead vocals, backed beautifully by Maria Panasenko. The dynamics are well thought in the composition full of tempo changes and alterations between power and delicacy. Both the composer’s array of keyboards and the electric guitar of Alexandr Pavlov build spectacular melodies, and of course all the other musicians are excellent, too. A detail I’m not fond of is the use of vocoder a couple of times, not a big deal though. This is a fairly accessible epic, very enjoyable, one of the finest and the most powerful Antony Kalugin has ever produced.

‘Northern Skies’ (14:14) has much more melancholy and sorrow — just listen to the daily news, need I say more — woven into it, but in the optimistic spirit, with a faith for a better tomorrow. Being notably shorter, ‘Northern Skies’ contains surprisingly plenty of wide dynamics, including also some rollercoaster instrumental sections. It’s nevertheless the moodier vocal sections that make this piece so emotionally strong. The dual (male + female) vocals are used to a great effect, and Maria Panasenko even has her own portion of lead vocals.

The bonus tracks, ‘Timeless Motion Reprise’ (1:24) recycles the first movement of ‘Life Lines’ in an instrumentally oriented way, giving a big role to Yan Vedaman’s soprano sax. Rather esoteric ‘Northern Lights’ is also mostly instrumental.
The single edition of ‘Life Lines’ function pretty well, and is nice to hear how a pretty complex composition can be shortened into a ‘regular song’.

”Exotic Creatures and a Stolen Dream” is a strong and finely produced progressive album with something for everyone as it is very melodic, interesting.
Highly Recommended


01. Life Lines
a) Timeless Motion
b) Wings of the Storm
c) The New Day Dawning
d) In the Garden of Hope
e) Beautiful Creatures
f) Crimson Queen
g) The Tide

02. Northern Skies
a) Only in Wildest Dreams
b) In the Valley of a Stolen Dream
c) Haunted Visions
d) Under the Northern Skies

Bonus Tracks:
03. Timeless Motion (Reprise)
04. Northern Lights
05. Life Lines (Single edition)

Antony Kalugin – vocals, keyboards, vocoder, percussion
Alexandr Pavlov – electric, acoustic & nylon guitars
Max Velychko – electric guitars
Konstantin Ionenko – bass, double bass
Ivan Goritski – drums
Yan Vedaman – soprano saxophone
Maria Panasenko – vocals



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