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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Satellite

Into the Night

Review by Gary Hill

Polish band Satellite came from the ashes left behind by the destruction of Collage. This latest album by the band finds them showing a strong ability to blend neo and classic prog sounds into a mosaic that should please fans of both genres. They probably wander a bit too far into the metallic realm for some prog purists, but it would be a shame for those folks to tune these guys out. The metal segments are tasteful and used quite sparingly. We get a lot of music here that feels like old school Genesis, some Fish era Marillion, bits of Kansas and Rush and other sounds. It's all welded together into a construction that is Satellite. This is a great album and one you'll find yourself listening to over and over again. You are bound to find new things on each repeated trip through its passages. Isn't that one of the best things about the most effective progressive rock?

Track by Track Review
Into the Night
The title track begins with the sound of an acoustic guitar being jostled. They move things on from there in a prog ballad approach that calls to mind Pink Floyd a bit. As this continues forward it starts to resemble classic Genesis quite a bit. They power it out towards more metallic territory later on down the road, but still it maintains a more solid prog motif than anything else, feeling rather like Hogarth era Marillion. We get some nice piano based music here and there on this one, too. It alternates nicely between the louder and softer passages. It's a good way to lead off the disc in a classy fashion. You might hear some early King Crimson on some of the keyboard textures on this track.
Dreams
This comes in with more power and aggression, but I don't think anyone would call the early moments "metal." As it breaks out into the vocal section, though, prog purists will probably want to lump it into the metal category. This is a hard edged, powerhouse of a track. It doesn't really feel like Dream Theater, although in terms of how hard edged it is you could probably lump it there. They drop it down later to something very similar to early Marillion. From here they rise back upwards later and a killer retro keyboard sound takes it for a time. They turn it more metallic as they carry forward but the track seems to merge sounds of Kansas and Marillion during this segment. They drop it down to just percussion. Then a retro keyboard dominated progressive rock motif takes over. As the guitar enters you might find yourself thinking about that Kansas link once more.We get a little funk thrown in mid track, but overall they just keep working and reworking the song's various themes. Divided into three sections (although presented as one track on the disc) this is a thirteen and a half minute epic and a great tune. We even get a bit of Rush from time to time on this. A great section late in the track brings in some rather Genesis-like themes. These come in first as a rather balladic treatment, but then power out into a more hard rocking instrumental powerhouse, a bit like something from A Trick of the Tail.
Downtown Skyline (Angel's Song)
A mysterious sounding musical texture with hints of a bluesy funk lead this off in an understated musical motif. As they carry on it powers out to something closer to metal, with an atmosphere that resembles Rush doing prog-metal. They shift out from there, though, into some dramatic and powerful keyboards that bring back a lot of that mysterious element. The vocals come in over a percussively driven ballad sort of structure in a manner that is very much in keeping with neo-prog, even leaning towards balladic prog metal. The vocals become quite evocative as the track is driven forward. They power things out towards the more metallic for an instrumental break and then drop back down for more of the mellower approach. They shift this out to more traditional prog in a powerful soaring instrumental movement later in the piece.
Lights
This instrumental flows in from the previous number and is essentially a keyboard dominated, effects laden ambient piece.
Don't Walk Away in Silence
Rising up from the introductory instrumental that preceded it, this feels at first like a reprise of "Downtown Skyline." They move through an opening guitar driven celebration and then drop it way down to moody mellow motifs. A balladic mode based on percussion, piano and voice take it from there and eventually the group beging to bring this up into a more full arrangement of itself. They crunch out into guitar driven power later in the piece.Again you might be inclined to think of Marillion on this arrangement. They fire out later into a furious crunch fest that does feel a bit like Dream Theater. At just a bit past the five minute mark they drop it way back down to a sparsely arranged balladic motif and build it up gradually from there. It drops way down again to end.
Heaven Can Wait
As this comes in it feels a lot like Fates Warning. They power it up after the introduction into a more proggy take on that same musical theme. While in some ways this song feels like the most blatantly prog metal of the bunch, this group shows that they are not content to be held in one place. They work a number of variants and difffering musical concepts into the piece, keeping it from becoming anything close to one dimensional. This is (like the whole of the disc) a work that crosses various musical borders and doesn't sit comfortably in any one school of sound. They turn it decidedly to pure prog here and there, taking various excursions along the pathway. Of particular interest in demonstrating this is a segment later in the number where the opening metallic riff is alternated with a cool keyboard line. This one segment really goes a long way toward showing what it is the band does so well.
Forgiven and Forgotten
The early sections of this track are fairly mellow and very much in a keyboard dominated mode, leaning a bit towards Euro-pop or even techno. The band pump it up later into a crunch neo-prog jam that's very effective. They turn in a killer symphonic movement mid-song and then shift it out into a more metallic jam that's still got lots of that symphonic music in its mix. This is another killer piece of music.
Time Stands Still
The first of two bonus tracks, this has a very stripped down, almost mellow techno approach. They build up from there as they move forward. By about the two minute mark (this is almost eight and a half minutes in length) it's grown into a powerhouse neo-prog number. When they drop it back down later it really feels a lot like early Marillion for a time. They scorch it out into more metallic sounds later. They put in a great instrumental movement about three fourths of the way through. This feels a bit like a more metallic ELP. The ending of this is in the form of an extended fade out.
Around the World
Here we get the second bonus cut. At a bit over three and a half minutes, this is an accessible piece. It is catchy, but still has enough progressive rock elements to keep it interesting. I'm not sure that it serves as the best conclusion to the CD, but it's certainly not weak. It has a lot of passion and power in its arrangement and delivery.
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