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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

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Review by Gary Hill

Featuring members of Beyond Twilight, Halford, Fates Warning, Firewind, Scar Symmetry and Circus Maximus, this album is quite cool. I had originally thought it was a metal album. That’s because I had only scanned bits of some songs. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of metal in the mix here. It’s also loaded with plenty of prog, too, though. I suppose the easiest comparison would be to Dream Theater, but other than a few places they don’t sound like DT. Instead, they are simply playing in the same basic musical territory.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A New Beginning

There is an almost Gothic metal vibe to this. Yet, it also has some seriously symphonic things going on through most of it. The mellower section mid-track lands in the vicinity of modern progressive rock. This is a fierce metal tune. It’s complex and very powerful. It’s definitely in the vein of proggy epic metal. There is a faster paced movement later that’s quite decidedly progressive rock, too.

Aggrezzor
This is a powerhouse cut. It’s fast paced and crunchy. Yet, it’s more progressive rock than it is metal. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of crunch and some extreme metal vocals here and there. Overall, though, this is closer to Dream Theater than it is to Testament. It’s a dynamic piece that works extremely well. The instrumental segment later in the piece is full on prog rock for certain.
Darkness Delight
Another that lands more on the progressive rock end of the spectrum, this has a real theatrical and symphonic kind of feeling to it in a lot of ways. A piano based movement mid-track lands in the seriously melodic half of the swimming pool. Like everything here, though, this is incredibly complex and dynamic. It moves toward more pure metal as it continues, yet, it’s still decidedly prog. The shift is tilted more to the other side after a time, too.
Dark to the Bone
This song is a great example of how even the most metal moments here get some serious progressive rock hardwired into them. This has a very mainstream metal basis for sections. It also gets into some pretty extreme stuff. Yet, there are enough symphonic prog things here to keep it from landing fully in the metal zone.
Evil Spirit
This is somehow very dark and metallic. At the same time, it lands in an almost soundtrack territory in some ways. This is complex, cinematic and powerful. The frantic neo-classical bit is full on symphonic prog. It works from there into sections that focus on each end of the equation at different times. A false ending takes us into a new jam. There is definitely some thrash metal built into it. It’s also quite symphonic in nature, landing it closer to the epic metal end of the spectrum. It is a fast paced and powerful screamer. The sounds of that evil spirit seem to end this.
Married to the Cause
A full neo-classical treatment opens this. As it screams out from there it’s in a very classically tinged arrangement. This thing is fierce and heavy. Yet, it’s quite definitely prog rock in terms of its construction. I love the multiple layered vocal arrangement. This whole thing is so classy, and yet also extreme in terms of metal sounds at times. An odd piano exploration ends this.
No Chorus
A song that earns a parental advisory, this is extreme, furious, fierce and very cool. As it drops back for a short piano section it feels almost like a continuation of the previous piece. There is a rather cinematic aspect to this song. That’s particularly true of the movements that have monologues delivered as soundbites. The spoken movement is interesting, too.
Rainheart
The sounds that start this are a lot like tuned percussion. It grows out from there to another cool metallic prog jam. Yet, it drops to more keyboard and tuned percussion based sections. Mid-track it drops to just piano, and spoken vocals come across that backdrop. It eventually works back to the song proper, but there’s a weird old time music on a record player distant section further down the musical road. There is another drop to piano near the end, with that instrument taking the cut to its closing.
You Can't Fix Me No More
Classical music and thrash metal merge on this screaming hot cut. The vocals lean toward extreme metal, but the piece is a powerhouse proggy thing in a lot of ways. The later sections, though, work more towards melodic (but still metallic, progressive rock.
Water
Not a huge change, this is another powerhouse metallic prog song. There is a drop around the three minute mark to piano and then symphonic elements that feel rather like movie soundtrack music. It screams back up from there to some seriously powerful metal-like prog. They break into a bit of Korn kind of percussive jam from there. It works back out into the kind of symphonic prog that we heard earlier, and that eventually takes the piece to it’s end after evolving.
Whispers
Weird spacey symphonic elements make up the musical concepts on the early sections here. It fires out to some screaming metallic jamming from there, but then drops down to something in between. This piece is one of the most dynamic and complex of the whole disc. It has a lot of powerful music, too.
 
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