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Billy Sherwood

The Art of Survival

Review by Gary Hill

You really can’t go wrong with Billy Sherwood. He has his finger on the pulse of progressive rock that sits between modern and classic sounds. Of course, having worked with Yes and now Nektar, those links are pretty obvious. This is another strong disc, but that’s what you always expect from Sherwood. There aren’t any real surprises here, but that’s not a bad thing at all.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Military Industrial Complex

Vocals open this in style and then the music joins and we’re off on a great modern progressive rock journey. Parts of this make me think of Peter Gabriel, but of course, a lot of it is also Yes-like. Whatever you call it, though, this is a dynamic and diverse modern prog cut that’s quite tasty.

Drone Deciphers

Mellower and more melodic, this is pretty slow moving, but still quite dramatic. The arrangement is pretty lush and I really like this cut a lot. When it works out to a different section around the four minute mark that Gabriel reference seems to fit again. There are also some elements here that call to mind Nektar a bit.

Whose Side Are We On

The same slow moving progressive rock sound is heard here. That doesn’t mean this would be confused for more of the same track. It does mean that the melodic progressive rock styled sounds that made up “Drone Deciphers” is the same general territory we hear on this one. It’s arguably even mellower than that piece, though.

Faith That We Belong

While there’s sort of a tentative sound here, the guitar really has more of a hard rocking element. After a while it works out to melodic progressive rock as the vocals come into the piece. It’s lush and somewhat atmospheric. This is one of the more dynamic cuts, moving through a number of changes and different movements.

Chosen by Divinity

Waves of melodic progressive rock are heard on this. It’s another that’s rather slow and mellow, but there are some definite lush elements to the arrangement on this tune. I really like the bass work on one of the later sections of this and, in fact, the whole atmosphere of that portion is dramatic and quite cool. I’d have to say that, as this keeps transforming, it really has a structure that makes it feel like a suite of pieces. There are some great guitar melodies that emerge later and this is one of the coolest tunes of the whole set.

Humanity

This one rocks out a bit harder than some of the others. There is almost a symphonic element to it in a lot of ways, but no real symphonic instrumentation. It’s another highlight of the set and quite a cool modern progressive rock tune.

Pathfinders of Tomorrow

While in some ways this has that same sort of melodic progressive rock heard on the previous tracks, there are some bits of harmonica on the number, giving it almost a bluesy vibe. The vocals come in waves of sound.

Humming Along

One of the harder rocking tunes of the whole set, this is quite a cool one. It’s most “different” tune of the CD, too. This has some of the coolest melodic guitar playing and really sounds a lot like something that would have fit well on the Yes album Open Your Eyes. It’s my favorite tune of the disc.

I Must Begin Again

Another highlight of the set, this is very jazzy in a lot of ways. It’s got a lot of energy and really rocks. It has one of the most diverse and dynamic arrangements. It is a cool song and a great way to end things in style.

 
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