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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ajalon

This Good Place

Review by Gary Hill

The latest disc from Ajalon, this is a great album. It feels a bit more natural and cohesive than their earlier catalog, but there’s also a bit more of a mainstream accessibility to it. Of course, when you’ve a fusion based instrumental that’s almost seven minutes in length and a nineteen minute plus epic on the disc, they have far from abandoned the progressive rock ethos. This one should please fans of the band, but would also be a good first introduction to them for progressive rock fans.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Love Is A Dream
The opening flourish has some classy hard rock built into it. The tune works out to more of a mainstream melodic rock sound. Yes, there is some prog rock here, but overall this lands more in the neighborhood of AOR rock. Some of the keyboard work on this, and the instrumental breaks in general, bring it more into pure prog rock territory.
Nickels And Dimes, Marbles And Stones
The keyboards really present a lot of the power of this piece – and lead the way on the introduction. In some ways this reminds me of Genesis or Yes – and yet it’s a sound that’s all Ajalon, too. This is pretty and poignant and while the first track was good, this one soars above that one.
Not Man
An accessible prog cut, most of this is more in keeping with modern prog – perhaps a bit like Spock’s Beard. The song proper definitely has some Beatles-like elements, but the instrumental section is more like old school progressive rock. 
Abstract Malady
Almost seven minutes in length, this is a smoking hot fusion styled instrumental. Different instruments take the lead for different sections and they work in several different moods and modes while keep it all coherent and cohesive. It’s one of the highlights of the set.
Lullaby Of Bedlam
There’s a killer hard rocking prog jam that opens this, but it drops way down for the verse with the guitar from the intro serving as punctuation before it rises up into a jam that makes me think of Kansas quite a bit. There’s a jam later in the track where a Rush-like rhythm section holds it down while keyboards wail over the top. Then a fusion based guitar solos. They take it back to the song proper for some more vocals and we get a decidedly Rush-like jam after that. Then it’s out for a series of changes and killer instrumental music from there. Eventually it works back to the song proper. This is another standout number here. 
Redemption
At almost twenty minutes in length, this is definitely an epic track. It starts off with a jam that’s rather fusion like, but also reminds me of Satriani or Vai. This grows gradually. It drops back to a guitar based balladic approach and female vocals (provided by Robyn Dawn) create a jazz/blues sort of texture. The cut grows from there in more purely prog fashion and we’re given a series of gradual and not so gradual changes. It drops back down to that ballad approach to continue. It essentially takes us through a repeat of the same basic musical concept before firing out into some serious prog fury. We get some vocals over this new motif and then a keyboard solo takes it onward. Eventually they take us back down to mellow territory and we get instrumental work in this vein for a time before the vocals return. The track is built in balladic fashion from there. They work this through in a series of differing approaches but it’s all quite organic. After a while like this they fire out into a new jam that’s very Kansas-like and continue in instrumental fashion – wandering perhaps closer to ELP territory and then to fusion-land after a while. They take it out to dramatic jam later that has a return of the male vocals and we get some ELP-like keyboards over this jam later and they really just keep reinventing it as they keep going. Still further down the road it drops to acoustic guitar for a ballad based movement. This motif eventually ends the track.
This Good Place
Starting in a mellow motif, this is basically a pretty balladic number that gets some more powered up sounds thrown over the top as it carries onward. Eventually they work this out into a killer prog jam that’s a little more hard rocking, but not overtly heavy by any means.
 
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