Russian proggist Egor Lappo caused quite a stir around these parts with his Trancevoicer album last year – can he repeat the dose with new album Naturealism?

The simple answer is yes, as Lappo continues down his chosen path of uber-tuneful, super-accessible prog metal for the masses. Naturealism isn’t quite as impactful as it’s predecessor at first contact, but, as is often the case with albums that give up their secrets more gradually, it might well end up being seen as quite a step up from Trancevoicer.

For instance, the vocal presence of Leppo is seemingly far improved this time around; the multi-instrumentalist still sounds a little light a slightly diffident Peter Gabriel at times, yet somehow, on tracks like Invisible Walls, he sings with a command that just didn’t seem as obvious last time out. Consequently all the material here has a real ‘contender’ feel about it. Forgone Future is staggeringly accomplished in terms of songwriting craft and smarts; whereas on Trancevoicer you at times got the feeling you were listening to a superb technician still coming to terms with couching his material in as populist a way as possible, here everything seems so seemlessly natural that you almost don’t notice how good the musicianship is because you’re still marvelling at the last vocal hook you were presented with. Songs flow here, and grandstanding instrumental brilliance is very much a part of that flow…

The sheer chutzpah of tracks like Forgone Future would carry the day against more celebrated names in the prog sphere, no problem, but the overwhelming feeling you’re left with after a few listens to this record is that Lappo has left the prog metal field way, way behind with material of the calibre of Lack of Gravity – or just about any other track you care to mention here. This is music that should be filling stadia, now, dammit!

With Rush now just a distant prog memory, a space in the market for thoughtful, brilliantly executed, soulful and above all very human prog rock exists and Egor Lappo might just be the man to fill it; On the evidence of Naturealism, there’s no one currently better qualified. Beautiful music.

Naturealism is set for release on April 8th.