The ominous beauty of Antony Welford’s ‘Friendly Fire’ is a mystical force that needed no elaboration. From the first listen of the 5 dramatic minutes that make up this epic, the dense guitars and lush composition were extremely quick to get to me, and the rest was history.

Antony Welford is a British musician from Mark Cross and he claims that his music ends up being elaborate scaffolding to hang his guitar solos off, and while ‘Friendly Fire’ does have an exquisite guitar solo at hand, I’d argue that the song is far more than that.

We are first faced by Welford’s nasal, Bowie-esque vocals, and approachable, meaningful words, followed directly by the grandiosity of the composition and the heaviness of the guitars. Melodic at heart, ‘Friendly Fire’ lives in the pockets between the light and darkness of its composition. Constantly shifting between the dark and dissonant motif and the rest of the song, pure melodic rock goodness, the duality feeds the song and gives each section a reason to exist.

The guitars are next. Lush, overdriven, and massive, Antony Welford’s full-bodied chord voicings and relatively gentle strums, and even the moments of guitar-less restraint are all indications of a masterful songwriter who knows when to give over the best of what he has, and when to hold back.

The results are purely fascinating. A dynamic and immersive prog-rock trip that took me to earlier days, without ever feeling like Welford is leaning on one inspiration or another too heavily. A fresh sound that’s relevant and enriching, yet timeless in its very own way.