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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Fall of the Leafe

Aerolithe

Review by Gary Hill

When you talk about hard-edged neo-prog the easy approach is to compare it to Dream Theater. Well, there are moments here that do call to mind that band a bit, but really that influence is understated and pretty minor. Fall of the Leafe create their own brand of this musical style. When it works well it’s damn good. When they fail (and it isn’t often) it’s because they take the more straightforward, rather generic path. This disc shows a band that is getting their musical scope put into place. It’s a very solid disc that has some moments that climb towards the sublime. It shows a group that (if they continue to explore their musical landscape and branch out) will become one of the more legendary groups of the genre. They have talent and drive. These things will serve them well. It seems certain that prog purists will want to steer clear of this, but for those of you out there who like a little metal thrown into your mix, this is definitely worth checking out.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Opening
While the title isn’t the most original, this introductory instrumental is rather exceptional. It starts off with some classic prog keyboards in a solo segment. Eventually other instruments join and this becomes a high-energy jam that feels a bit like old Rush. It’s a great way to start things in style.
All The Good Faith
Here we get a cut that fits more into modern metal than progressive rock. This is crunchy and high energy, but also a bit pedestrian. Still, the mellower bridge segment has a bit more of that Rush leaning.
Drawing Worry
Here we get a track that takes a modern metal texture and melds it seamlessly with a Rush-like tendency (from the classic progressive rock days of the band). The result is strong, but it relies a bit too much on the more extreme metal style of vocals – and they just don’t seem to make those parts gel with the rest of the picture. The mellower mid-section is a nice touch, but the metal pounding that punctuates it leaves something to be desired.
Lithe
This one has all the crunch of the last one, but the arrangement is far more progressive rock in nature. This shows just how you can take that aggressive metal sound and put it into an arrangement that still pulls in plenty of prog rock. Again, I hear old school Rush on some of this.
At A Breath's Pace
Dark and moody, this is a mellower track that has a lot more progressive rock in its mix. Essentially a ballad this is packed with emotion and power and is one of the stronger cuts on the disc. They still manage to crunch out here, but it definitely shows more of a spirit of restraint than most of the disc does.
Graceful Retreat
While this pounds in with more metal fury than a lot of the stuff here, it also includes some of the most progressive rock music in terms of the arrangement and changes and twists. It’s one of the stronger cuts on the disc. There’s a riff that is a big part of the latter parts of this song that really feels a lot like the more proggy side of Iron Maiden. The outro is quite cool, too.
Sink Teeth Here
This cut combines a power metal ballad approach with a more progressive rock texture in a track that is good, but a bit too trite.
Minor Nuisance
Here we get a cut that is probably the most Dream Theater-like of the bunch. It still has some of that Rush styling at times, but the nu-metal side of things pulls it away from greatness. Still, this is one of the highlights of the disc and quite a strong piece of music.
Especially By Stealth
Leading off with drums the mode that enters to join is quite cool. This has a rather ballad-like structure, but quite a bit of prog infused into the mix. This fires out into some super heavy modern metal. They alternate between the two styles as the cut carries on. It’s one of the more successful pieces here. A cool break segment, with it’s slightly off kilter staccato arrangement is a nice touch.
Look Into Me
Here we get what might be my favorite track on the disc. It is one of the most progressive rock oriented in terms of the general song makeup and shifts and changes. They still pull in a lot of metal crunch, but this is a killer cut.
Closure
This one rises up from silence in a reprise of the musical textures that began the album. An instrumental, this does a good job of creating bookends for the disc.
 
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