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Ayscobe

Beside Yourself

Review by Gary Hill

There are probably those who will argue with placing this review under progressive rock. Sure, there is quite a bit of metal built into this beast, but it’s far more adventurous than pure or even progressive metal. It is really just a metallic progressive rock. No other title fits it. While this is a cool and entertaining reaction, it’s not perfect. Points feel a little awkward and it just doesn’t always gel as well as one would like.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
How It Began

Acoustic guitar opens this, and with some extra power added, continues through the first vocal section. They turn it more metallic after that, but it drops back down to the more purely progressive rock oriented territory for the next verse. This works through a number of changes and variations and there’s even a tasty saxophone solo. They also include a metallic guitar solo.

Illusion
They bring this in with more pure progressive rock sounds, but there are some hints of crunch at times on the piece. Parts of this feel a bit like Kansas, but it’s also more adventurous than that. Later portions of the piece are mellower, and include a cool, multi-layered vocal arrangement. There is also some hard rocking, crunchy yet melodic guitar soloing. As that guitar solo section continues it does wander near metal territory.
Voices
Powering in with something a bit like a metallic space rock sound, it drops back to an almost Pink Floyd meets Traffic kind of jam as the saxophone solos over the top. Then around the two minute mark it shifts out to the most metallic section to this point of the disc. From there, though, it drops to just piano before they take it into a fast paced progressive rock jam. This thing continues changing and growing, with another turn towards the metallic. Still, the shifts and twists keep it decidedly progressive rock, just with a metal flavor.
Solution
There are those who would consider this one heavy metal. The screamed vocals might fit that, but overall it’s kind of an old school hard rock sound merged with something akin to the harder rocking side of Pink Floyd. It does have some great crunchy melodic guitar soloing. After that, though, it gets a twist to real metal. They drop it down to balladic territory after that section, though. A return to the metallic meets Floyd sounds happens from there. They alternate between the mellower and more metal as this continues.
Good Mood
This is the most unusual piece to this point. It has a dramatic and almost over the top theatric element at times. The crunchy sounds dominate a lot of the track, but it does move towards melodic at times. It works well despite being pretty far left of center. It’s quite a dynamic piece.
Illusion 2
Mellower modes open this and multi-layered vocals come over the top. While this opening section is a bit strange and a bit jarring, it’s also quite cool. They take it out into a metallic jam that’s still pretty proggy. They continue to change and alter this and there’s a thrashy jam later that feels a bit like early Metallic turned a bit proggy. Interestingly enough, the section that follows that seems sort of like Beatallica because both The Beatles and Metallica are valid references. There’s a smoking hot guitar solo in the instrumental section that follows. If you don’t like where this track is, just wait. It will change.
Meeting With Harlequin
A mellower sound with some garage elements starts this and holds it as it gradually builds. If there’s a failure on the set, this is it. It seems to plod along and it just feels kind of awkward. It’s definitely the least dynamic cut here. There is an extremely mellow section with extremely deep vocals that is quite cool, albeit rather weird. Later they take it to some rather strange places, through some world type sounds. Then it powers out to more metallic sounds to continue. This one is too theatrical and too weird for me.
Unspoken Law
After the oddity of the last track, this is a refreshing change. It’s more standard progressive rock with bits of metal in the mix. There’s a cool change to sort of a folky psychedelia later.
Story Why
Mellow and melodic sounds open this. They build out from there by expanding on that sound and augmenting it. As they turn it towards harder rocking sounds it turns to some seriously symphonic progressive rock. The vocals somehow remind me of Hawkwind, but the music is a more progressive rock oriented version of epic metal. This is arguably the strongest piece on the whole set.
Harlequin
At over ten and a half minutes in length, this song is epic both in scope and length. There are a lot of great elements here and in a lot of ways it reminds me of the harder rocking, more jam oriented side of Nektar. There’s a guitar solo section later in the piece that leans towards metal, but really there’s enough prog here to keep it from earning that title. This is another tune that is a contender for best tune here. While this is less dynamic than some of the other pieces here, it’s still got plenty of change and variation built into it.
Psychose

They close the set with a melodic instrumental that feels musically related to the previous piece. It’s a great way to end things in style.

 
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