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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Noctem Aeternus

The Hours

Review by Gary Hill

The Hours is an intriguing album that seems to defy classification. While Noctem Aeternus is billed as a group, it appears that it’s almost a solo creation of Justin Bailey. He seems to have done most of the music on the set (with a few guests) and wrote all the songs except the single cover track.

This album is quite good. The Misfits cover seems to have been a misstep, but that could have been corrected by including it as a bonus track. Beyond that, at times the vocals seem a little rough around the edges. With those the only two complaints, it seems this disc will please a lot of people.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Graveyard Stories

“Graveyard Stories” starts with a spoken sound loop. Keyboards and a rhythm section rise up from there in a dark jam that calls to mind a combination of Depeche Mode, Porcupine Tree and horror movie music.

Calm Before the Storm

Gothic and fairly mellow, but tastefully dark, “Calm Before the Storm” feels more like Depeche Mode with some Porcupine Tree in the mix. It powers up to a more bouncy and driving sound. There’s certainly a lot of electronic music in the mix, but it also falls close to modern progressive rock.

The One

With “The One” the band seem to find themselves outside of the electronic and Goth sounds of the Depeche Mode school of music and land more firmly in the progressive rock vein. Sure, those dark and brooding elements that embody Gothic music are still there, but this tune fits squarely under the modern progressive rock heading. At times Roxy Music is a valid reference, too.

Glory

Spacey keyboards create a dark and gloomy, yet extremely progressive rock oriented, soundscape as this begins. It’s over a minute in before anything else shows up, and it’s basically just a beat that’s added. The keyboards become lush and powerful as the track builds upwards. It never really rises beyond a keyboard solo as it remains an instrumental.

The Hours

The title track starts with pretty acoustic guitar oriented, balladic music. The vocals come over gently and the track definitely feels like modern progressive rock. It builds up as it continues, but never turns past progressive rock territory. It’s a nice change, but still retains the dark and gloomy sounds of the rest of the set. 

Astro Zombies
This is a cool tune, but it doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the album. Of course, the fact that it’s a cover of a Misfits song goes a long way towards explaining that. Still, this version is more of a punk rocker in the vein of the Ramones mixed with The Dickies. It’s rocks out harder than anything else on the set, but lacks both the prog elements and the goth sounds that are heard in the other tunes. It just seems like something dropped in to destroy the flow. Perhaps it would have been better utilized as a “bonus track” removed from the flow of the disc proper.
Silhouette

“Silhouette” brings the Gothic gloom back in full. It’s slow moving and sedate with waves of keyboards serving as the backdrop for the vocals. Certainly Porcupine Tree is a valid reference, but so is Depeche Mode. A rhythm section comes in later, bringing more of an electronic vibe to the piece. More pure progressive rock emerges later as the vocals soar across the top. It’s one of the more dynamic and effective pieces of the set.

Loss

This is a delicate and intricate piece of music. It is distinctly progressive rock oriented. It’s appropriately sad, but also very pretty. Although it sounds like there might be some non-lyrical vocals, they also sound like they could be provided by keyboards. As “December” starts it has a modern progressive rock sound. The rhythm section takes it closer to electronic music and the vocals are certainly in keeping with Depeche Mode.

The Eleventh Hour

Somehow the acoustic guitar based motifs that open “The Eleventh Hour” seem to call to mind both David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Pink Floyd. The cut grows out from there into something closer to symphonic progressive rock. It’s gloomy, but also pretty and involved. It’s another strong cut on a disc that’s very potent.

 

 
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