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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Scott Mosher

Deep Horizon

Review by Gary Hill

With Scott Mosher's latest release he continues a trend of producing extremely potent metallic progressive rock. It's amazing how he can continue to put out one album after another without any weak tracks or losers. If anything Mosher's songwriting and instrumental prowess seem to improve with each new outing. Vocalist Scott Oliva is simply incredible here, standing on an even keel with the best of the best. If you like your prog with a hard edge, or are a fan of progressive metal, this disc is a "must have." You just can't go wrong with it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Deep Horizon
This one kicks the CD off in fine fashion. A smoking-hot chorded riff with tasty keys over top screams out. After this runs through for a couple measures Scott Oliva throws a non-lyrical vocal that is pretty incredible over it. This part of the introduction runs through for a few more measures then drops back to a more mellow approach to establish drama and a pretty texture. After a while a very crunchy guitar line takes the track. As it moves into the verse it drops to a more stripped down approach that is all neo-prog. Oliva's vocals here are extremely powerful and emotional. Mosher pounds the music back up for the next set of vocals, and this alternating pattern makes up the bulk of the piece. Mosher manages to throw in a killer instrumental segment with some exceptionally tasty sounds. This twists around a bit as it carries on and turns very much into a classic rock/progressive rock direction for a while before dropping back to the verse. This potent track makes for a great beginning to the disc.
The Breaking Point
This is another extremely powerful progressive rocker with metal tendencies. The arrangement has a rather Rushish texture at times and Oliva's multi-layered vocals are pretty impressive. It also includes a metallic instrumental break that turns the corner towards more prog rock textures for the guitar solo. At times Mosher's guitar soloing reminds me of Steve Howe, especially Howe's Asia period. In fact, a lot of the latter parts of the sound seem to call to mind the heavier work of that prog rock supergroup. This is another sheer winner.
A Path of Pride
Keys start this one off with a more sedate, but still quite powerful format. The cut builds on this theme with other keys layering over top before kicking into a hard-edged prog jam that feels a bit like Dream Theater. Those keys are still over the top of this, though. They drop it back to more textural zones for the first vocals. That DT-like segment and the more mellow one create an alternating pattern for the song proper here. It changes up here and there with enough twists to keep the song interesting.
Light Years
Starting with sound effects and keys when this one kicks in the sound is amongst the most tasty on the disc. It seems hard to believe that they could bring up the intensity any from the last few cuts, but they do it here. This one has a fairly straightforward prog metal type texture overall, but that awesome sound and some even more powerful vocals really elevate this one. Mosher puts in some especially tasty guitar soloing and a drop to the more sedate is a nice touch. While it's hard to pick a favorite track off of a release that's as strong as this one is, this might be it for me.
In Visible Darkness
I have to say right off the bat, that I really like the title of this one. I find it to be clever word play, and I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff. This starts with ambient tones and then fires out into some of the hardest edged stuff on show here. That doesn't dominate for long, though, as a rocking progressive rock jam ensues. This one calls to mind a lot of neo-prog acts without any one in particular standing out. Oliva's vocals here are deeper and remind me a bit of Geoff Tate. The backdrop for the verse is pounding out, but still the keys over top lend an almost balladic feel to it. While the texture here is probably more prog metal than progressive rock, this one is still very potent and has some extremely evocative moments. Besides that, after a drop back to more atmospheric elements this turns the corner far more into the progressive rock range. While the earlier segments remind me a bit of Queensryche's Rage For Order period, this later section (that serves as the outro) combines that sound with more pure prog leanings.
Turning Away
Kraftwerk like keys serve as the intro here. After a short while, though, this one thunders in with more hard-edged textures. This is another that definitely has a lot of metal infused into its sound, particular in the form of the guitar work.
Re-Engineering The Mind
More electronica styled keyboards serve to start this one off, but quickly Mosher shifts it out into another hard rocking prog instrumental segment. This runs through several variations on its themes before dropping back to a keyboard dominated mellower section. As it powers back up and Mosher solos on the guitar I'm reminded a bit of Joe Satriani. This instrumental is one that keeps rearranging and recreating it's themes - or perhaps I should say "re-engineering." It's definitely a tasty one, but they all are here. 
Falling Down
In a by now familiar theme, keyboards begin this one, too. The cut shifts gears after a time to more meaty hard rocking progressive rock elements. While there are points where it drops back to the more sedate, overall this one is one of the most metal numbers on the CD. It's amazing that at the same time it includes some of the most pure progressive rock segments of the album. In this way it is one of the most classic examples of the sound structure of the album. I have to say, though, if there is a weak track here, this one is it. It seems to suffer a slight lack of cohesiveness, due to this variety of textures, and Oliva's voice at times misses it on this. The truth is, though, these things are actually very minor. On a weaker disc you'd probably not even notice them. It's just that the rest of the material here is so strong that it points it out more. Also, it should be noted there are times here where Oliva shines just as much as the rest of the album and Mosher's guitar soloing here is amongst the tastiest on show here, too.
Zero
The keys that start this one are far more textural, but when Mosher launches into the harder rocking jam here it's all the more furious in comparison. This is another that is extremely powerful. It is also probably the heaviest material on show here. While a lot of prog heads might be turned off by the metal textures on this one it is really one of the strongest pieces on the disc. This one has all the progressive rock timings and changes you could ask for, but delivered with a heavy metal musical texture. Give this one a chance because it is pretty awesome.
The Space Between Lives
With pretty washes and waves of keyboards beginning this one, it builds rather slowly with a very lush and beautiful texture. While they grow and rearrange in very dramatic fashion, the keys hold this one by themselves for almost the first two minutes of the song. Eventually, though, Mosher thunders in with a tasty guitar sound and the cut is on its way. It drops back to a mellower element (still with a rather driving rhythm section) for the verse, but punches back out into the heavier territory for the chorus. This is another that is packed with emotion. While it maintains the same basic musical concept for a while, it drops back to the more sedate for a break later, then jumps back up into a new instrumental passage. Keyboards are really predominating over this segment (they might even be a little too high in the mix once the guitar reenters). After this extended interlude, though, Mosher moves it back out into the main themes of the song. Another drop down later takes it to a guitar dominated dramatic section that eventually gives way to more full on metallic prog jamming. This is another segment that reminds me somewhat of Rush. It finally crescendos to give way to more textural sounds that show up very briefly to end the song and album in quite satisfying fashion.
 
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