The evolution of South African-born Robyn Ferguson as an artist has been an interesting one to follow, from her days as guitarist/vocalist for Christian death/black metal ragers Adorned In Ash through her inclusion on the Sistas Of Metal project, and then her highly interesting recent solo instrumental prog/shred career. An Ibanez endorsee, her skills on guitar have progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and her music is entering a formative area that is always amazing to watch. To make the journey even more of a Rocky-style beating of the odds, she also had to recently battle health issues that looked to try cut her music career right down – nerve damage and paralysis in parts of her body that included 3 fingers on her crucial left hand. But this all makes it a real phoenix from the ashes situation, bolstered by a strong heroine.
Her first solo EP, 2019’s Alizarin (read our album review here), was an all-out affair that showed all her talents in well-thought-out composition and fiery playing, lots of ripping shred, warm colours, and overall intensity. She released the Falling Forward EP earlier this year – this took all the highlights from Alizarin and focused on the key areas to give a more in-depth look at where she, as the artist and guitar player, was headed. That said, it felt as though she was treading water stylistically, almost worried about taking everything to the next level, which is something that she is clearly capable of.
At 7 minutes and only two songs, Harbinger is the shortest of the 3 EPs and feels like an extension to Falling Forward. “Premonitions” is a short and ominous drone with melodic guitar shadings and lives up to its name. The lead is punctual and forceful without losing any of the ambiences, a little bit of neo-classical shred mashed up with Satriani-esque jams and a smooth fluidity.
“Apparitions” feels like the focus point of the EP – it starts with a quiet build-up that’s dressed in harmonics and a mournful melody, and it pulls heavily on the heartstrings. When the solo kicks in, there’s a feeling of dragging oneself from the darkness and a ray of hope knitted into the perfectly chosen notes, squealing bends, and eerie harmonic back and forth. The song ends as it began: quiet; uneasy, and unsure of a positive or negative conclusion.
The EP has two great songs that, if included, would have pushed Falling Forward closer to a full album and would have fleshed it out a bit more. As such, this is more of a single that covers comfortable ground and once again reminds us of Ferguson’s obvious talents, but I am just waiting for that moment when she finds the holy grail for all guitar players – her true and unique sound. There can be no doubts that this time is on the horizon (possibly nearer than she or us even think) and that will change the game completely. Bring it on.
Harbinger Track Listing:
Run Time: 7 minutes
Release Date: August 1, 2020
Record Label: Self-Release