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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mar De Grises

Draining the Waterheart

Review by Gary Hill

Right off the bat, let’s say this – I’m not sure this is progressive rock. I am sure it’s an incredibly interesting CD that I like a lot. The music here is really some sort of strange hybrid of incredibly heavy death metal and progressive rock. The overall effect is almost a weird sort of space rock. This is hypnotic and powerful. It’s both starkly ugly and exceptionally beautiful – at the same time. Most of the vocals on this album are death metal growls, but they are so far down in the mix they play like some sort of guttural musical instrument. Like I said, I don’t know what it is really. I do know that I like it – a lot!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sleep Just One Dawn
Sound effects start this off. Shortly they bring in balladic motifs. Other elements join, giving this a bit of a classical music feel. It starts to shift more towards moody balladic rock sounds. Then there is a burst of death metal, complete with growls. Still, even during this onslaught we have classical elements playing across the top. They work this through a number of changes and alterations. We even get a section that reminds me of a heavier Rush. At around the five and a half minute mark they drop it back to bass guitar, weaving a rumbling, but atmospheric line of sound with ambient tones over the top. This motif holds the last couple minutes of the song, moving through a few alterations and sound effects end it, just as they began it.
Kilómetros de Nada
The first half of this doesn’t vary a lot from the general motif of the bulk of the last track. It’s ultra heavy, but also proggy and dramatic. Mid track they turn it mellower, with a melodic, yet dark, guitar line moving it in a rather balladic way. This is quite cool. They bring back the heavy down the road a ways. When they move it back out to the more melodic, but plodding textures we get some sung vocals. At first they are deep in the mix so, like the death growls, they feel more like instrumentation, but as the arrangement is intensified with more and more layers of keys, these vocals soar and climb from the background towards the front.
Deep-Seeded Hope Avant-Garde
In many ways this doesn’t differ much from the first couple tracks. That said, it doesn’t get quite as heavy as those opening pieces. It also has some spoken/whispered goth rock vocals that are cool. Also, the growled vocals are a bit farther up in the mix than they have been until this point.
Fantasía
This opens with sound effects and a loop of what feels like a backwards spoken word soundbite. This rises with dark and dramatic sounds, coming up gradually in ambient ways. At three minutes and ten seconds this is the shortest cut on show here and it never moves beyond ambience. That said, it’s still an intriguing instrumental.
Wooden Woodpecker Conversion
As this rises up I’m very much reminded of something from the midst of the Cygnus X-1 tales from Rush. It eventually resolves out into more song like jamming, but then drops down to a percussion dominated section. Echoey vocals are whispered over the top and after a time they pound out from there. Again they don’t break any molds here, but this is quite tasty. I especially like the feedback laden section that ends it.
One Possessed
Much of this track is more melodic. We get both whispered and sung vocals on this one. There is also a harder edged section that is still melodic. This is a change of pace, although no one would accuse it of not fitting this disc. There is a keyboard and whispered vocal section in the middle of this track. When they resolve out from there it’s extremely melodic and powerful. This might well be my favorite track on the CD.
Summon Me
They rock it out more here, but this is still powerful and has plenty of melody. This goes through a series of alterations and changes, making it one of the more dynamic pieces on the disc. That said, it doesn’t differ that much for a lot of the other stuff. The charm and power of the group’s style has not worn thin, though. This is another where I hear traces of Rush here and there.

Liturgia: Convite y Prefiguración/Diálogo Infierno
Piano leads off and holds this one. The music turns a bit dark and heavy after a time, but still remains quiet. Effects take over from the keys as this moves forward. Then they rise up into the most purely prog music of the CD (although it’s still dark). At around the two minute mark they take it into a heavy, death metal direction. This is alternated with more Rushish sounds. At around the seven minute mark they shift out to a keyboard only mellow section. They bring it back out to the earlier motif later and then work into space from there.
 
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