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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

SBB

The Rock

Review by Gary Hill

The latest album from this Polish band, this disc is quite intriguing. The group put together a sound that’s sort of part 1970’s hard rock, part progressive rock, part pop rock and part fusion. It works quite well. The lyrics here are mostly in Polish, although there are a handful of numbers that are in English. I like the disc quite a bit although it is perhaps a bit understated at times. I’m anxious to hear more from these guys.

Track by Track Review
Ska³a
When this rises up it has sort of hard rock/ early metal grind to it. The keyboard textures that join bring in more of the prog elements yet there is still quite a crunch here. When they drop it to the vocal section I’m reminded of Uriah Heep quite a bit as the organ is a dominant musical element. The vocals are not in the high register like UH, but this has a definite similar musical texture. They modulate out towards the sound that started it after the verse and we get some intriguing guitar work. There is a vocal section later in the track that I guess I could best describe as reminding me of the monster in “Young Frankenstein” doing “Putting on the Ritz.” Now, that might be a negative connotation, and in that way it’s not accurate. These guys make it work, but it probably will make you think of that. Overall this song alternates between the two main musical structures to create this tune.
P³on¹ce Myœli
This slower number is a bit jazzy, but I’m also reminded of early Asia here. The keyboard dominated instrumental segment is a nice touch and has a definite 1970’s vibe to it. The vocal arrangement on this (mostly balladic track) gets quite emotional and powerful at times. Considering that the lyrics are in Polish (and I don’t speak that language) it says a lot. We get some cool Satriani-like soaring guitar later in the piece. They work this out into quite a catchy little jam before they end it.
In Heaven and Hell
The early segments of this are in the style of a 1970’s tinged melodic prog motif, but I’m kind of reminded of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band a bit – and yet I also pick up on Supertramp to a degree. Mind you, this is a bit harder edged than either of those groups. As it powers up a bit more I can make out hints of Alan Parsons. This gets quite intense as it carries on and this number is one of my favorite tracks on show here. We even get a little Pink Floyd on the final motif. That section (around five minutes in) has the only vocals of the whole CD.
Silence
A mellower tune, this one features a rather prog ballad approach. It’s got a lot of keyboards in the mix. At times it’s quite jazzy but at other points it has quite a pop-oriented sound. This is definitely very retro. It’s also quite tasty and catchy.
Sunny Day
This is a slow (some parts almost painfully so) sedate ballad. It’s pretty, but somehow it seems to lag and drag a bit for me. While I like it somewhat I could have stood for it to last about half as long as it did.
My Paradise
The motif that starts this one off is quite a bit like 1970’s fusion. They begin this as a ballad sort of track that is very much in keeping with that sound. About mid-track, though it shifts out into a faster paced jam that calls to mind the jazzier end of ELP. They drop it back down after this segment, though. This one has some tasty keyboard sounds. They alternate between these two varied segments for the remainder of the cut. It’s taking into some pretty intense hard rocking sounds before they close it out, though.
Pielgrzym
Keyboards start things here and other elements are added in a dramatic and rather mysterious mellow arrangement. This is another point on the disc that calls to mind Alan Parsons quite a bit. They build this one organically and does it ever build. This becomes a progressive rock powerhouse that has some killer keyboard work. There as some Eastern musical elements here and there, too. It also has some fusion built in here and there. The soaring keyboard dominated extended instrumental section is amongst the best musical passages of the whole disc. They shift back out after this section into more sedate sounds, but they don’t lose anything in the process. They quickly bring it back up, too. This piece is one of my favorites on the whole CD.
Akri
They start off with more fusion on this one. That’s not to be the mode that drives this tune, though. This is more of a retro classic rock tune. There is still some prog in the mix, but not a lot. How many progressive rock fans don’t dig classic rock, though? It should please most prog heads anyway and there is some cool stuff in this piece.
Zug A Zene Mindenhol
The keys that lead this off feel like vintage Deep Purple. Just as you think we’re about to launch into the kind of rocker they shift it down and somehow this feels a bit like Spock’s Beard to me. They work through a number of cool changes, but the whole thing has plenty of 1970’s stylings. They take this through a number of alterations, but yet it feels cohesive throughout. It’s quirky and yet catchy – that’s a hard balance to maintain. Something spoken in Polish ends this.
Bonus Track - Epiewanie O Imionach
This may be a bonus track, but it’s also my favorite here. It’s got a funky fusion meets classic rock feel to it. It works so well. It’s definitely worth seeking out this version of the disc just for this track. We get a great extended organ solo on this track, too.
Bonus Track - Gazela
“Gazela” is perhaps better suited for its role as bonus track. It’s not that it’s a bad song, but rather that it doesn’t have much of a unique identity. It’s more of the group’s fusion meets prog and classic rock approach. This one reminds me of Joe Satriani quite a bit. I think that the previous number would have made a stronger closer.
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