It was time for King Crimson again in 2003 with the release of The Power To Believe featuring the same quartet which recorded the 2000 album The ConstruKction Of Light. One might assume that the sound might be similar but – this is one certain fact since the band’s first album in 1969 – you never know where the Crims will go.
The album starts with the first part of the title track, namely an “A Capella” piece. It’s simply singer and guitarist Adrian Belew’s filtered voice as an introduction of the recurring lyrics of “The Power To Believe”. The second song “Level Five” has been known from the band’s concert sets already and has been released finally. The title is a hint at this track being the inofficial fifth part of the aggressive “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic” song series which date back to 1973. And again this track shows the brutal power of King Crimson with heavy guitars and blasting drums with electronic features, being ear-shattering sometimes. Yet this will happen more than once on this album.
Similar songs are the catchy “Facts Of Life” along with its soundscape intro, the very heavy “Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With” and the masterpiece “Elektrik”. The latter shows the genius of King Crimson in terms of creating such great sounds as a group of musicians that only very few bands are able of. The structure of this piece seems to be almost classical, not only because of the fanfare-like intro and outro. All the weird chord progressions, time signatures, special effects and background noises lead to such a tension which reaches its climax and then the band bursts out, just to return to the quiet sounds of the song’s beginning. Perfect!
But there is also the other side of the band with rather experimental songs and more quiet passages. The title track’s second part with the subtitle “Power Circle” – formerly known as “Virtuous Circle” from the band’s concerts – is another one of those Gamelan-inspired songs with a clear world music touch which the band has been known for since the early 80s. Here, the band’s mastermind and guitarist Robert Fripp takes the opportunity to deliver one of his best soundscape solos at the song’s end. Same goes for the short fourth part of “The Power To Believe” which completely is a Fripp solo as well. On the other side, the almost radio-friendly mid-tempo ballad “Eyes Wide Open” shows that the band can even deliver top-quality pop songs without losing their own sound.
In between those styles are the industrial “Dangerous Curves” which starts off quietly and gains more power with every bar and the third part of the title track, known since 1998 under the name “The Deception Of The Thrush”, an aggressive ambient track with a heavy outburst as a finale.
There’s not much left to say in the end. This album is so great and fantastic that I could easily call it ‘perfect’. It shows why King Crimson have been such an influential band since their very beginning in 1969 – defining progressive rock and still doing so after all these years.