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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ice Age

Liberation

Review by Gary Hill

Ice Age, Josh Pincus, Jimmy Pappas, Hal Aponte and Arron DiCesare have released Liberation, the follow up to their critically acclaimed debut, The Great Divide. The album has no big surprises, continuing the musical styles that they showcased on that release. If you are a fan of their vein of metal infused progressive rock with definite Styxish vocals, then this one is sure to please.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Lhasa Road (No Surrender)
This one begins with a keyboard sound that is just a bit Princeish. However, as the song proper kicks in it is in the way of hard-edged prog that really rocks. The vocals, as a lot of the time on the first album, are in a Styxish sort of mode. This is a fairly dynamic and potent track with some great instrumental work. The instrumental break towards the middle of the song and the movement that follows it are a nice surprise and quite evocative.
March Of The Red Dragon
Waves of sound flood in, then percussion joins and the keys begin a strong buildup process over an energetic percussion pattern. The guitar enters in a melodic pattern and the cut continues building. It suddenly jumps into hard-edged territory, and then really rips out with a progressive rock oriented metallic fury. It quickly drops back to a melodic verse segment. It alternates between the modes, getting pretty quirky at times. The metallic elements here really scream out in places.
The Blood of Ages
A stylish sort of hard edged groove oriented jam with somewhat jazzy textures starts this one. It drops to a more sedate and sparse verse, and then jumps back up hard edged for the chorus. This gets quite intense at times.
A Thousand Years
Circling, soaring guitar begins this one. It has a frantic hard edged and rather dark texture to it. The piece moves into more standard prog territory, but still maintains its hard edge. The instrumental break on this one really smokes.
When You're Ready
Beginning in a classic acoustic-rock ballad mode, this one takes on a very solid and tried and true progressive rock ballad style. It comes across as a good change of pace - a breather, if you will. It eventually kicks up to hard edged and fast paced as it carries on, then switches to a modern prog rock style with hints of the sounds of such bands as Yes and Genesis. As it drops back down to the next verse mode, it is in the vein of a very tasty prog-rock epic ballad style. Then it powers back up before going into the next instrumental break. The keyboard solo on that break is particularly potent as it serves as a crescendo before bringing the piece into its next mode, a sedate and intricate balladic movement that includes some killer piano work. The composition turns heavier, eventually, based on themes already present.
Musical Cages
This is a killer progressive rock jam with at least one prog era Rushish riff. After a crescendo a keyboard-dominated segment takes the piece. It then explodes into a metallic neo-classical prog jam that is quite awe-inspiring. This extended jam keeps growing and changing, never content to stay in one place. As that winds down, classically oriented piano takes over completely to be augmented by guitar that is a bit jazzish and even feels a little like the work of Steve Howe at times. It eventually jumps back up to a full on jam with various instruments taking the lead from time to time.
Monolith
This is a short neo-classical acoustic guitar solo.
The Guardian of Forever
This one has a crunching, shuffling riff propelling it along, overlaid with some piano work. A fairly heavy track, this is nothing that special.
Howl
Coming in atmospheric, this brief instrumental serves as an intro to the next cut.
The Wolf
This is a quite metallic cut with a great riff based style. The percussion is exceptionally strong. It really features some awesome instrumental work in its fast paced, aggressive style.
To Say Goodbye, Part III: Still Here
Coming in with a retro, almost funky prog sound, this one quickly begins building on that mode, then alters the progression to include more hard edged guitar work in a more modern prog vein that still manages to feel a bit Yesish. This is a very dramatic and dynamic piece that really works. It certainly makes a lot of changes and gets into some considerably high-energy metallic territory as it carries on.
Tong-Len
At first whimsical and mellow in texture, this quickly change to neo-classically oriented piano dominated keyboard structures. It is a brief keyboard solo.
 
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