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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

No Rules

Where We Belong

Review by Gary Hill

When I hear the term “symphonic rock” I tend to think of the more classically oriented prog. No Rules uses that label to describe themselves, and I think they should perhaps change it to “progressive rock.” Their music occasionally wanders into territory I would think fits that “symphonic” label, but more often than not what they create is closer to metallic neo-prog. That said, this is a good disc that has a lot of variety on it. I really only felt that it got a bit samey in one place on the CD. I think these guys have a great future ahead of them with a little polishing and perhaps a better description. For more information, including how to get the CD, check the band out on myspace.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Locked In A Soulcage
Sound effects and ambient tones lead this off. Eventually this moves out into a moody sort of progressive rock ballad that feels a bit like Pink Floyd, but with a far more symphonic tone to it. Eventually this bursts out into a movement that at once calls to mind classic Beatles and Genesis. Then a shout brings back the Pink Floyd elements, but they move it out into another progression that seems more along the lines of Yes or the Flower Kings. The Swedish prog kings’ sound becomes more predominate as this one carries onward.
Walking With Me
After footsteps lead this off the group launch into a killer jam that is almost metal, but still far enough into the straight progressive rock realm to keep the purists happy. I’d have to say, though, that this one probably feels closer to Dream Theater than it does anything else. It’s not as dynamic or intriguing as the previous number, but it’s energized and powerful enough to make it work.
After The War
When this one comes in with a bouncy and delicate ballad structure, it feels all the more gentle after the crunch that made up the last piece of music. This one is a very potent cut that will bring back the prog purists to the fold, at least in the opening modes. Later, though, they crank this out into hard-edged, more straightforward rock that reminds me more of 1970’s arena rock than heavy metal – or prog. They create the bulk of the song by alternating between these modes.
Where We Belong
As this one leads off the mode is far more classic hard rock/metal in texture. They enhance this as they move along with keys that bring in a bit of Deep Purple like sound. As they carry it forward, though, it begins to feel more like a cross between classic prog, Deep Purple and perhaps a touch of Iron Maiden – more in terms of song structure as this isn’t metal, really – at least not any more than Deep Purple was in the classic days.
Lost
Electronic keys start this, but the band quickly jump in with a stomping prog rock jam. This one feels just a little too stripped down and perhaps a bit cheesy, but it’s not bad.
Dreams
After effects they lead in with a ballad-like mode that feels decidedly Yes-ish. This is a nice change of pace. As they move this one onward it becomes a more energetic and harder rocking prog piece. It’s quite dynamic and has some great textures making it my favorite piece on the disc.
Just Like A Stranger
Mellow keys also begin this one. As percussion joins in the mix it reminds me a bit of early Marillion. When they launch out into the harder-edged fast paced riff, though, I hear such groups as Flower Kings, Dream Theater and others in the mix. The falsetto doesn’t work all that well in my opinion and this song turns a bit too metallic for some prog purists, but it’s another strong one – and another highlight of the disc.
Cradle In The Sand
Another crunchy prog tune is launched out in this one. They drop it back to more sedate for the verse, though. This actually has one of the more pure prog arrangements despite crunchy metallic tones. It’s quite a dynamic and powerful tune, and another of my favorites on show here.
Paper's Bang
Here we get more of a prog ballad approach, and it makes for another nice piece of variety. This one is interesting and entertaining – and gets a bit more energized as it carries on, but I wouldn’t consider it as one of my picks.
Who's Crying?
This is another hard-edged prog rocker that feels a bit metallic. My only complaint is that this sound is starting to wear a bit thin by this point.
Starmoon
Wow, talk about a change of pace! This comes in with extremely gentle and beautiful balladic modes and the symphonic title is earned here with the lush and gentle arrangement. At about a minute in the song seems about ready to launch into a full metal approach. While it does crunch out it isn’t quite as severe as all that. This is another highlight of the disc, as the arrangement (while still quite crunchy) is creative and powerful. I have no question that prog purists will run screaming from this one, though.
The Light
This is the most metallic tune on show, feeling far more metal than progressive rock. They do turn it out later into something closer to Dream Theater, and while this may not be the most prog oriented tune on show here, it does make for a strong disc closer.
 
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