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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Paine's Promise

Mobius

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of Rush should find plenty to like on this album. The drums in particular feel a lot like Neil Peart's work and really stand out. The music often times calls to mind Rush. Now as far as progressive rock - the band call themselves a prog rock group. Frankly, I'll give them that, but barely. Some of their progressions certainly have prog tendencies, but they probably come closer to prog metal. There is some good material here, and it definitely gets better with repeated listenings, but there are also some flaws. For one thing, there isn't a lot of variety on the disc. Other than a few songs everything has a definite sameness to it. The production is good, but the vocals (female ones - making it a nice twist) could use a little reinforcement. Listening to a lot of independent releases it seems that vocals are often an issue. Like this disc, it's not so much that the voice is insufficient, but more that people with less experience in production don't take into account the fact that a lot of big artists use varying methods to add punch to their vocals when recording. Often it's done with differing echo effects. Others, Queen for example, use layers of vocal lines to add a certain presence and strength by doubling, tripling and more the parts. These are methods that certainly help out a recording, and ones that Paine's Promise could benefit from trying. The truth is, this is a good CD from a band that shows the promise to making great ones. All art is a process of learning and refining, and I would say that we should expect great things from this band if they keep growing. For more information on the band (you can even hear some sound snippets) and to buy the CD check out their website at http://www.painespromise.com.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Real Life
Coming in hard rocking, guitar solos over the top of the introduction. Then the band moves into a crunchy sort of jam that feels just a bit like early Rush. They turn it a bit twisted later, with a metallic sort of sound that feels rather off kilter in texture, not rhythm or arrangement. This one has a killer classic rock feel at times. Later, they move this out into an expansive, and very tasty jam that has a mid-period Rush leaning.
Consequences
An intriguing guitar riff, still feeling Rush-like starts this hard-edged jam. The chorus has more of a melodic prog texture, but still lives in the guitar based arena. They turn in a great extended off-timed instrumental movement later with some intriguing shifts. Once again the Rush elements are all over this section, feeling a bit like something from "A Farewell To Kings" or "Hemispheres." This segment alone is nearly worth the price of admission for this musical ride. This one also has some extremely tasty guitar work, and is worlds apart from the fairly simplistic opener. They probably should have led off the disc with this one instead.
99 Failures
Again feeling rather like Rush, this cut seems to combine an extremely heavy metallic sound with more prog-like elements in terms of the timings and song structure. After this intro it turns to a crunchy, slower paced verse segment. There is another full on Rush-like staccato segment later. Then (still later) a twist around into a mysterious textured jam with tinges of Eastern sounding elements makes for a great change.
A Is A
The first real change of pace on the disc, a mellower, guitar oriented prog mode starts this one, one of the strongest numbers on show here. After the verse runs through in this manner, a great Rush-like progression serves to segue the cut into a faster paced hard rocking prog style that carries the vocals from there. This moves through into another "A Farewell To Kings" Rush era jam before dropping back to the opening mode to move the number forward. The track continues to move through in similar fashion throughout with some variations and intensifications on the themes making the majority of the changes. A cool guitar solo segment with an interesting bass line running underneath is added in for good measure, though.
Shark
Here we get more Rushish musical riffing. They drop it back to the more sedate later to carry it forward in a melodic, but still hard-edged jam. This is a cool instrumental with both elements of Rush and artists like Joe Satriani. It's a good cut, but a bit too much like all the rest of the material here.
Grip
This one comes in much heavier than a lot of the material on the disc. It has a lot more in common with heavy metal l than with any other style. Even with the powering up the over all feel is again a bit too similar to a lot of the other stuff on the disc.
Together Alone
Just when we really need something different, this track comes in as an answer to that. This one is early on the mellowest number thus far, seeming to be a nice melodic ballad type piece. The cut gets a bit heavier as it carries forward, but still remains fairly different from the rest of the music we've heard thus far. As a song it doesn't seem to hold up as well as some of the other music here, but in terms of adding some variety, it's a bonus.
Drive
Back into the harder rocking vein, this one comes in with a killer classic rock texture, but then shifts even to the even more metallic.
Island of Peace
Probably the biggest change up of the disc, this one comes in with a dramatic ballad type format that is quite cool. While not full of changes for a time, they build this up in a very strong fashion. Then eventually explode the themes out into a harder rocking variation on the disc. They move it between these two formats, creating variations and revitalizations of the themes. This is the best number on show here.
Awake at the Wheel
Coming in with more of that Rush "A Farewell To Kings" sound, mostly on the rhythmic structures, this one is another cool jam. It's a bit off kilter and very intriguing feeling a bit like "La Villa Strangiato" at times. This instrumental is another highlight of the disc and a great cut to end the disc.
 
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