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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Blind Ego

Mirror

Review by Josh Turner

The front-man, Kalle Wahlner is a self-described egomaniac, but I wouldn’t say it’s without merit. Don’t take this on blind faith alone. As a guitarist who has starred in RWPL’s five studio releases and has since then been a part of their live world circuit - with corresponding albums to boot for those spectacular tours as well - he’s no uppity hot-dogger, smarty pants, or know-it-all in the very least. Likewise, if he says he’s autocratic, he’s being too harsh on himself. He doesn’t need me or anybody else nitpicking his hard work as he’s far from pompous. If anything, he’s his own greatest critic.

Anyhow, in his first solo project ever, he puts together an album that’s worthy of awards. It’s well-crafted, and it has much composure. Even the artwork is wickedly stylish. What is it? The image on the plastic jacket shows a person trying to push their way through a vinyl orange peel. The figure has forced the film’s elasticity to the brink of its limits, as he is on the verge of breaking through the waxy barrier.

By the way, this new line of Reynolds’s Wrap stirs the raspy John Mitchell, the versatile John Jowitt, and the regal Tommy Eberhardt into its patented mixture. So you know Wallner is in good company.Don’t believe the hype. Wahlner’s neither arrogant nor pretentious about his skill either. The music he creates is intelligent, engrossing, and will appeal to fans from all walks of life. With this side-project, he’s successfully broached the subject-matter at hand. On his next release, he should provide a picture that shows him on the other bank of that fluorescent screen. That would be most fitting as this album proves his abilities are seemingly unhindered.

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
Obsession
My initial impression is that this parallels a band that I have grown to love. That would be Audioslave. Mostly, it reflects the guitars of Thomas Baptist Morello. Foo Fighters taints the palette too. As I’m quite on-board with those influences. I’m infatuated with this song. So much so that I’ve gone too far on the number of times I’ve played it. I can’t help it; I’ve enjoyed this ditty to an incessant level. I feel disgusted with myself for losing control and you will too - once you find yourself hopelessly head-over-heels and obsessed with this track.
Moon and Sun
This is Yes’ “Dreamtime” interspersed with Chris Cornell’s “Euphoria Morning." Progressive metalists should need no more reason than that in order to keep this celestial rock spinning.
Break You
If you took a beater from ZZ Top’s chop shop and tuned it to cruise on MTV’s "Pimp My Ride," you’d wind up with this convertible hybrid. It’s rugged and asperous at its onset. Eventually, it rolls into something that’s much easier on the ears. The extensions to its bumpers and fenders include Echolyn. Plus, it has the notorious hemi. When taken out on the town, we turbo boost over to Porcupine Tree’s “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here." Technically, this is slicker than Knight Rider, and it’s so valuable that’s its owner would never put it up for sale on eBay.
Black Despair
This would be RPWL’s “Crazy Lane” if it were sung by someone who speaks classic parseltongue: Peter Gabriel, Shaun Guerin, or Simone Rossetti are eligible and noble heirs. It’s not that exactly that, but those abstract associations are just about the only allusions that come to mind that could hold any coherent meaning.
Open Sore
Without a doubt, this borrows from Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage." For that reason, it may require a tetanus shot to safely endure. What makes it unique is that it takes a Tom Jones instrumental smack dab to its midsection. Only this time, the delivery system of this discrete serum is dispensed by way of a more discreet injection.
Hollowed
This song is short and sweet like cake batter or whipped cream; making us lust for this depressingly unhealthy filler. It’s also an industrial amalgamation of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” with Billy Joel’s “Allentown."Because this pagan’s ritual is melodically macabre, it’s ideal for Allhallows Eve. When it’s out-of-season, this loathsome sacrament is a proper setup to the subsequent track. With the principal lien on loan, I’d be concerned for accumulating interest, which is why it’s a relief that our liability to this decadent rite is trite and pithy.
Mirror
This is an awesome song that’s certainly earned the obscure headline. It’s like Metallica’s “St. Anger” coupled with the age-old ghosts of Pallas. Compositions like this demonstrate what can be done when Jowitt and Wallner pool their resources into the crock-pot. The bass is bossy while the guitar is resolute. Simply put, this duo is the quintessential definition of an espousal powerhouse.
Don’t Ask Me Why
Using simple addition, this is the sum of Jadis, Arena, and Kino. Wallner is solid whether his instrument is acoustic or plugged-in. Lucky us; we get both in this case. Ironically, Mitchell - a guitarist extraordinaire in his own right - is strictly supplying nothing but his voice for this misanthropic and standoffish piece.
Moorland
The album features all types of amphibians: from bullfrogs to penny toads. This just happens to be the stunted instrumental tadpole. In it, his style embodies the ectothermic Guthrie Govan. I didn’t think he had it in him.
Forbidden To Remain
Added to the palette, we get a lighter shade of IQ’s Dark Matter. This features a great lead-in, followed by a wily flyover and an awe-inspiring bridge. Suffice to say, the aesthetics of the outro are pretty voguish. These civvies have it all; even more so than a rich and affluent radio-friendly tune.
Artist Manque (Bonus Track)
After all is said and done, there is more. At the end, there is this remix from Violet District; the band that Wallner owes his lifesavings to for making him a card-carrying musician. This isn’t speculation as he’s made this claim in his memoirs and has assigned this liaison to his professional career. With the soles repaired and the buckskin shined, this refurbished shoe has no problem being passed off as new. Wallner has reached that niche area between the mainstream and the progressive. Like Cornell, he never compromises his cool for what’s elegant.
 
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