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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Landmarq

Entertaining Angels

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve reviewed Tracy Hitchings before and she’s the lead singer for this outfit. She’s got a great voice and that’s one of the real draws here. This is a great progressive rock set and this version I’m reviewing has a bonus disc. With their sound based both on classic and modern prog, this melodic outfit ought to appeal to a wide range of progressive rock fans.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Limited Bonus CD
Walking On Eggshells
Chiming guitar starts this off and then the song shifts to something a little like Pink Floyd. The vocals bring a different element to play and we’re off on a killer prog excursion from there. While this isn’t epic in terms of length, it is in terms of scope and there are some amazing vocals in this thing.
Timeline

There are parts of this that are very much like Renaissance. It works out to more rocking music later. The cut works through a number of changes and has some great prog moments.

Stormbrewing

This is essentially a piano solo with some storm sound effects.

Thunderstruck

At almost thirteen and a half minutes in length, this is a mini epic piece. It starts off pretty hard rocking and much it maintains that Hitchings’ vocals are particularly rocking. This is a smoking hot tune. There’s a mellower movement as this continues. There’s a particularly noteworthy keyboard solo later in the piece that’s quite retro in sound. After it works into more rocking sounds from there we get dropped to a particularly mellow keyboard laden movement. There is a killer Yes-like jam later. Then we’re taken to something more like Genesis and Marillion. More Yes-like music comes in beyond that. It stays long enough for one vocal section and they take it to another prog movement. I love the keyboard soloing that comes in here. A clap of thunder closes the tune out.

Unlisted Track 1

This is just like a demo of an acoustic guitar piece with some non-lyrical vocals. There is also some whistling on it.

Unlisted Track 2

Here is another short bit of stuff from the studio.

Unlisted Track 3

This is an odd phone conversation thing.

Main Disc
Entertaining Angels

Sound effects styled atmosphere opens this. As it continues it turns toward lush keyboard textures. Then guitar rises up triumphantly to herald the beginnings of the song proper. That guitar works through some soloing for a while before eventually taking things into a full jam. The vocals come over the top of a fairly stripped back arrangement. The whole thing works through a few changes before they take it out.

Glowing (Part 1: Friends)

Piano opens this cut up and then other instruments join in a pretty and mellow melodic progressive rock arrangement. That section builds up and works out. Then there’s sort of a false ending. A bit of keyboards hints at a different direction. Instead, though, they take it to a melody that’s essentially a variant of the earlier section. There is a cool, rather different prog instrumental section at the end. It kind of sets things up for the next piece.

Glowing (Part 2: Lovers)

Feeling kind of like a logical progression from the instrumental section that ended the last piece, this rises up rather like mid-period Genesis merged with ELP and Pink Floyd. The vocals really bring about a sultry kind of smooth groove movement. The vocal performance on this one is particularly powerful. The cut includes some killer keyboard soloing later and an especially meaty guitar solo that again brings some Pink Floyd comparisons.

Mountains of Anglia

The jam that starts this one off makes me think a bit of Yes. In fact, in a lot of ways this cut feels like Yes, but with some more of that mid-period Genesis in the mix. The slower section later makes me think a lot of Pink Floyd and the saxophone reinforces that. They return to the faster paced music later in the piece, though. There is some great slide guitar later, too.

Personal Universe

Intricate and pretty, this is more or less a progressive rock ballad. It has quite a bit of energy, though. It’s a little spacey and the vocals really shine here. This is a powerful tune with a lot of emotion packed into it. The sound gets harder edged and crunchy as this continues. There are some powerful symphonic prog moments as this works through instrumentally later.

Prayer (Coming Home)

Melodic and powerful, this is essentially a progressive rock power ballad. It doesn’t shift or change much, but when it’s this good, that really doesn’t matter.

Turbulence (Paradigm Shift)

Atmospheric, but mysterious and ominous sounds open this. Guitar solos in melodic ways as it builds outward. Eventually we’re taken out into some melodic and powerful progressive rock. This is quite an epic journey, working through a number of changes and alterations. It’s really a great progressive rock tune in the style of old school prog, but with some modern elements, too.

Calm Before The Storm

At over sixteen minutes in length, this is an epic piece. It has three separate movements, each titled (I. Strange but Beautiful,  II. Spiderman, III. From the Abyss). It starts with some dramatic and rather crazed progressive rock, but drops to a mellow, rather ballad-like section for the first vocals. There are definitely links to the music of both Renaissance and Yes as this works forward. It gives way later to harder rocking frantic progressive rock. This is a real powerhouse as it continues. There are some particularly powerful moments as this builds out later. There is an awesome jam further down the road and around the eleven minute mark it sounds a bit like Rush for a few moments before it shifts to some dramatic sounding, rather menacing keyboard dominated music. It powers out later into some seriously hard rocking music that’s just plain tasty. Different instruments lead the way as this continues and it’s one heck of a groove.

 
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