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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Third Ending

Third Ending

Review by Gary Hill

This disc suffers from being quite uneven. If you were to listen to just the last half you might think that it's one of the strongest neo-prog discs to come out in a long time. That's how good the music in that part of the album is. However, listening from the beginning you might be tempted to shut the album off. It's got a great song here and there alongside a lot of mediocrity. If Third Ending can get beyond this problem they'll be one of the best neo-prog bands out there. That second part of the CD is about as good as you get. It seems like it's a multi-part epic, but I can't see any place in the liner notes that indicates this. The bottom-line is, that whole section of the CD is worth the purchase price – and more – by itself. You just might find yourself skipping the first few songs.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Eleven
The acoustic riff that makes up the main structure of this cut reminds me of a progressive rock take on The Police's “Message in a Bottle.” That motif makes up the verse segment, but the choruses are pulled into a more soaring prog rock approach. They crank it out later to a harder edged jam that has as much to do with modern hard rock as it does with progressive. When they drop it back to the balladic structures there is a dramatic interlude. As it comes out to that ballad approach, there are no vocals this time. Instead the instruments work together to intensify and fill out the sound. After this they turn it rather crunchy and it feels a bit like Dream Theater from this point onward. Metal modes meet modern prog rock in the rest of the instrumental section here. Then it finally drops back to the mellower song proper, and they carry on back through the transitions and alterations again. The is a powerful, but rather moody piece of music that serves as a good introduction.
Back Home
Beginning with a tentative, balladic style this one grows gradually. Eventually it's powered up into a more electric and hard edged version of itself. This doesn't move too far from its origins, but rather is more like a modern rock song than a prog jam. In fact, this track really doesn't seem much like the other material here. If there is a throwaway, this is it.
Tungsten Blues
An odd sort of texture leads this off. As they move out from there it's in a free-form nosy RIO manner. This kicks into a metallic sort of jam that again calls to mind Dream Theater and other bands of that sort quite a bit. A killer riff enters after a while and the cut is launched out into a series of changes. This moves between areas of hard rock and mellower fusion sounds. It's one of the more dynamic cuts on show here and very strong musical journey. This instrumental is a highlight of the set.
Can You Hear Me?
As a total contrast to the fury of the last number, this one is based on a pretty balladic mode. While in some ways the general motif here doesn't differ that far from “Back Home,” this has plenty of progressive rock elements to elevate it well beyond the level of that number. It moves between harder and softer passages in a rather predictable pattern, but there is enough quality music here to make sure it will appeal to prog fans. Killer keyboard textures and some inspired acoustic guitar soloing set this one up as “quality music.” There is also a killer harder rocking instrumental segment and a cool drop down for an “answering machine” verse. While I wouldn't consider this one of my favorites, it's definitely strong.
Fingerprints
This is a short acoustic guitar based ballad. It's less than two minutes in length, but still very pretty and full of emotion.
Digital Sunrise
They rise up gradually here. The mode begins to hint and a hard edged dissonance. Waves of noisy guitar swirl around whispered vocals in sheets. Then as it seems ready to explode it drops to a sound bite. They power up from there in another metallic modern prog journey. This is another that has some musical connections to Dream Theater. It's crunchy and powerful. Another highlight of the disc, “Digital Sunrise” is a strong one. There is a killer instrumental movement later in the piece. The number segues straight into the next track.
Cold Light of Day
This rises up from the crescendo of the last song. It comes in as a very restive sort of ballad approach, perhaps just a tiny bit like Pink Floyd. That said, it more closely resembles moody modern progressive rock. This twists out into strange, uneasy (but still quite sedate) sounds later. It gets very weird as it carries on, but still retains a definite charm and listenability.
Falling
They pound out with metallic fury right from the start here. This is a bit slower and still retains a great sense of melody despite the more heavy metal approach. It drops back to a stripped down approach for the first vocals (delivered with a lot of distortion). Hints of the metallic textures return as this grows upward. It resolves out into a powerful (non-distorted) vocal segment. This one is good, but not a standout. It runs straight into the next one.
Part V
The vocal line from the last track carries in as this one starts. A bass line with waves of textural sound hold it for a time before other elements rise up fairly quietly to carry forward. This is moody and rather Floyd-like, particularly the guitar lines that skate across the surface in powerful abandon. The track expands on the musical themes from the last one and in fact is really a continuation of that track. As the vocals return they are a direct extension of the earlier piece. This drops later into a balladic take on this lyrics and sounds.
Coming Around
The piano melody on this one rises straight up from the last one. The vocals come across this in a very evocative manner and they build it up from there. A little past the one minute mark they move out into some incredibly potent harder edged (but still very melodic) reinterpretations of the song's musical themes. This still feels like another part of the series of tracks that came before. It feels in many ways like a resolution piece that pulls together musical and lyrical themes in to end the tale. Mind you, I don't have the lyrics, so I can't be sure of this. This is one of the strongest pieces of music on show here and a great way to finalize this series of sounds.
Fingerprints (reprise)
Here we get a more fully fleshed out version of the earlier track. This one is far longer and more like a completely realized musical vision. Packed with varying themes and moods this is a very strong piece of music. Again there are times when you might be reminded of Dream Theater, but it also encompasses the territory of more melodic neo-prog. This is a powerhouse piece (one of the best on the disc) and incredibly strong way to end this thing. There is an extended period of silence during this track and then they fade up to one final incarnation of these musical themes. Some of the vocals (non-lyrical) here resemble The Beatles a bit. This crescendos and then gives way to a chaotic melange of instruments and voices in a weird – but rather cool – finale.
 
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