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Rocket Scientists

Oblivion Days

Review by Gary Hill

This is a very good album, no question about it. The disc covers a lot of musical territory and has a great prog sensibility. The musicianship and vocals on the CD are impeccable. The CD reviewed here is a Japanese import, and apparently the two bonus tracks are only available on the Japanese edition. It is also important to note that these bonus tracks are separated from the rest of the CD by a LONG pause.

Rocket Scientists are Erik Norlander and Mark McCrite. They are joined on this CD by Tommy Amato, Neil Citron, Greg Ellis, Tony Franklin, Lana Lane, Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Don Schiff.

Track by Track Review
Dark Water Part Three
Dark and mysterious keyboard make up this brief introductory instrumental. 
Aqua Vitae
Jumping straight out of the previous cut, dramatic and powerful prog lines herald this one in. The cut transforms into a more melodic keyboard dominated segment, then off to a new riff dominated style. This gets very powerful. A dramatic verse and chorus type movement that is very strong takes over. This drops to a great slower and very evocative section. This one moves through a ton of changes in fine prog fashion and the vocal work is great. The cut is a little Dream Theater influenced at times.
Oblivion Days
Great keyboard textures begin this one. The piece shifts to a harder riff driven mod that really rocks out. It moves into a potent fast paced prog jam instrumental break. This is a great hard edged prog cut.
Archimedes
Wind effects are the first sounds we hear in this number. Then a keyboard flourish jumps out. Keys and percussion attack, then drop away. Next, the cut changes to a great jazzy sort of fast paced jam. This instrumental keeps reinventing in fusionish directions, getting quite funky at times. A dramatic keyboard drop ends the tune.
Fly
Hard edged prog tones begin this cut in fine style. Then the mode seems to shift out to a very metallic sort of jam. It then drops back to a killer slower, more melodic segment. After a verse, hard edged prog elements again take the piece. Then, much later, the cut again drops in intensity, this time to a killer piano solo. It begins building up from there after a time, becoming a wonderful instrumental passage that really rocks. After this section, the earlier modes return for the next set of vocals.
Banquo’s Ghost
Starting in a moody acoustic guitar balladic mode, the cut builds on this style. Then it begins to move in powerful melodic prog styles. The piece suddenly jumps into an extended ELPish instrumental break that really jams, and includes some awesome keyboard work and great changes. The composition drops back after a time, and as the vocals come back this time, they are accompanied by keys followed by the entrance of the rest of the instruments. This is one of the most impressive tunes on the CD.
Space:1999
Rocket Scientists’ take on the theme song from the 1970’s sci-fi show, this really rocks. The themes song was always one of the coolest things about Space:1999, and this instrumental prog retelling really captures the power and magic while making it the band’s own. This piece is high drama. Some of the sounds on this one remind me of Brian May’s trademark guitar sound.
Escape
The early modes of this cut are in a haunting style that has a great texture. The song has some very evocative lyrics. “One you were young and you dreamed of the stars, Lighting the holes in the summer sky, Racing the wind with your best avatars, Blind to the time running by, Slowly gravity pulled you on down from the sky, You found that your wings were too heavy to fly, You built up walls to lock the daydreams away, And lost yourself in the maze”. It breaks loose into a fast paced prog jam, then drops back to a more full arrangement on the early style of the piece. After alternating between these two modes, it drops to a slower, dramatic keyboard dominated prog break that is at once rather atmospheric and percussive. After a faster prog jam segment, a rather Rushish mode takes over for a time. This section ends giving way the haunting melody that began the piece. After running through that segment, and the faster mode that makes up the chorus, the cut moves into another instrumental break, this time featuring a very tasty guitar solo. This segment takes the cut out as it slowly fades away.
Break The Silence
Piano begins this one, but after a very brief intro the mode shifts to a more guitar dominated slow prog build up that is quite strong. This is a great slower progressive rock piece. It creates some great textures and tones while not straying far from its core progression. This is a killer tune.
Dark Water Part Four: Heavy Water
This is a great hard edged instrumental with ELPish stylings. It ends with atmospheric keyboard tones.
Wake Me Up-Live in Tokyo (Bonus Track)
Effects laden keys start this one, then a great, rather funky groove takes over for a time. The cut features lots of quirky changes and prog textures. It shifts dramatically as it moves into the slower verse. This one has a weird texture, but it is great and a bit off kilter. The composition returns to the earlier jam after a time.
Stardust MM96 Mix (Bonus Track)
Starting with sedate, old time type sounds, as acoustic guitar enters, those sounds fade. This is a great acoustically dominated ballad. It starts building as it continues, expanding on the original balladic themes, intensifying and redefining them. This gets quite complex in its arrangement and very powerful. A brief percussive break leads into the outro.
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