When an album kicks off with three killer tracks like “The Absence Of Presence”, “Throwing Mountains” and “Jets Overhead” back to back, you know you’ve got something special. Because, that’s exactly what “The Absence Of Presence” is.
I can’t say “who was expecting it?”, as this is not the first time Kansas surprise me in the recent years. The fact that there is only two of the original members still in the band (guitarist Rich Williams and drummer Phil Ehart) and three were added this decade probably plays a big role on keeping things fresh with songs that are faithful to the tradition that goes with their name. Kansas made a smart move finding an exceptional singer, the 65-year old Ronnie Plat, who brings in mind Steve Walsh and the band’s glory days.
Everything down to the last detail is taken care of and the album seems like a long journey in winding roads where the violin guides through the listener and makes “The Absence Of Presence” sound like a concept album.
Of course, both lead and backing vocals are beyond any comments. What has always been the key element of this band is being guarded with their lives and it’s faithfully followed by the new members that are now part of the band. As weathered veterans they know exactly what they have to do in the historical outfit. Even some of the guitar solos sound like they’ve jumped ou of the ‘70s and not from someone who wasn’t even born then!
And If I mentioned the opening three songs that are the setting stone and create the first impressions of this album, it would have been a crime not to talk about the amazing “Memories Down The Line”, with its outstanding melody, the fragile vocals and the classic Kansas build up of one of the best rock ballads you will listen to this year. Also, worth noting is the more prog friends “Animals On The Roof”.
If I had to put a title on this review, I’d probably go for one of the greatest clichés of them all: “Diamonds are forever”. But, not only this is totally true, but also that one spot of 2020’s best albums is already taken.