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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Poverty's No Crime

The Chemical Chaos

Review by Josh Turner

You'd be hard-pressed to get these guys to admit it, but there are definitely some Dream Theater influences here. I'm thinking Scenes from a Memory era. However, to say they are a Dream Theater clone would be totally unfair, because they are not. As a famous Muppet once told us, they are different, but the same. It has that vibe, but rocks in a different vein. This album is very melodic. It has great riffs and keeps your ears stimulated from beginning to end. The music never gets stagnant. The musicians stay in top form while executing parts that are technical and complex. I highly recommend this album. It is unique in how it moves. Comparisons could be drawn, but the combination of elements makes them one-of-a-kind, slightly askew from anything else in the progressive metal genre. In some sections, you may start to feel like you have a lock on their song structure or style, but the pace changes often into new territory.

The musicians are in full command of their instruments. Their newest member is their bassist Heiko Spaarmann. You would never know he was fresh to the line-up from listening to the music. His signature is tightly woven into the sonic fabric of their music. There is some phenomenal bass work being done here, which is one reason this release will score many points with the listener. The group is new to the United States, but in no means are they unknown worldwide. Their skills are buffed and polished to a radiant shine. I ask you give them a try. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Keep in mind, there is more metal and hardness here then say a rock album, but for metal it is a setting or two cranked below the standard metal fare. Unless you are looking strictly for rock or you want to be nailed to the wall with sheer loudness and aggression, this may be a brand-new band for the true progressive music fan to bring into their collection. This album is a conceptual project about how everything, we included, is controlled by chemicals and the chaos created by their interactions. The songs stand alone, but lyrically stay aligned with this topic throughout the entire album. The experience may change when actively listening to the words. The music is mostly uplifting while the lyrics are more upset and cynical.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Walk Into Nowhere
This piece takes many different twists and turns. This is truly progressive metal. It starts up gently like wind chimes blowing in the breeze with the accents provided by the keyboards. We get in a sports car and take it for a casual joy ride with the top down. The vocal are quite nice and relaxed during the trip. It ends with a screeching halt with the brakes pushed briskly to the floor. This was a fun ride.
Every Kind of Life
This starts off with an instrumental not so much unlike the opening track. Its heartbeat quickens while it heads off on a dirt road. It takes us on a run. Our feet try to keep up with a hectic pace. The keyboards lay down an ever-changing atmosphere around us. The music takes us up and down some hills and around some winding paths. We are left lightheaded and breathless.
All Minds In One
The previous song lulls us into a nap and transitions into this one. The vocals are sung in a restrained voice. We are feeling the slow down. Then the pace quickens and we return to an earlier theme, but then the theme takes on its own life. The music slithers like a serpent climbing down from a tree, wading through the swamp, and crossing through the brush in its reverberating motions towards us. There is a series of riffs that sound like they were sampled from the Night Rider soundtrack. The vocals are diverse, while the rhythm section whips along with the lizard's spine.
A World Without Me
The song is sluggish and methodic with a razors edge. In several spots, the edge gets a little sharper, but for the most part the song maintains its repressed urges. As we get further along, the unexpected happens. Rather than jump out of its skin, it falls into a timeless coma. It comes out of this unconscious only to express a disgruntled, but yet malevolent mood.
Terminal Trip
We start in a desert on a thirsty camel making its way through the dust and sand. We finally make it to our camp. From here we take a plane and soar through the altitudes. After landing, we get into an exotic racecar, switching gears and weaving in and out of traffic. The car unexpectedly jumps into the ocean and starts hydroplaning. We are jumping choppy waters and making wakes as we go. Somehow we made it back to the start. It is nightfall after the long day, and we mount the Camel for the ride back. Did I mention this is an instrumental?
Pact With The Past
The music is wrapped in a gelatin mold. The keyboard bounces like pin pricks while the bass trembles on this cushy substance. The vocals return. The guitar sings us a melody. The keyboards slice and dice. The temperature goes up and everything melts slowly into a sticky smooth coating inside a cool pan.
Left To Chance
This is a sparring match between two fighters. The drums playfully throw a combination of jabs. The keys and guitar are combinations thrown in defense. There comes a short piano interlude to get a sip of fluid between rounds and then we are back to this friendly workout. The sequence continues with breaks here and there. The final bell rings and the two fighters shake hands.
Moving Target
This song brings us to the controls of a state-of-the-art aircraft. All that lies in front of us is a panel with digital readouts and buttons, covered in shimmering sleek glass. We have just been given orders to land. Soaring through the sky, following radar, we are searching for the carrier. It is brought in for a landing and we are briefed on some tricky maneuvers to challenge this technology. The engines hum and the bass pulses in jet fire. The aircraft take off as the pilot taps the ivory white and black buttons to program the course. We soar high above the atmosphere and reach altitudes quickly, stalling the plane. We take it down and perform challenging loops and barrel rolls. Soon, we find ourselves tracking the ship for landing. We safely touch down on the deck.
Do What You Feel
Ghosts fly around us, wailing like angels from hell. The lights go dim. Zombies approach in the darkness ahead. We run to get away. We are putting some distance between the evils that lied behind, but we must keep moving. This place is not safe. I especially like the darkness and energy in this piece. It is over much too soon.
Access Denied (bonus track)
his is a nice change of pace. It is unplugged and nothing but pure glee. It is like rushing to the hospital to find your friend's wife just gave birth to a healthy baby boy. You are there. You hold the child. The grandparents snap some photographs to commemorate the moment you've shared. This is what bonus material should be about. They give the listener something different, but something worthy of the album. It doesn't add or take away from the concept, but captivates them in the process. It has a bit of an Enya feel to it with some vocals. As inspiring as the music sounds, it has quite possibly the saddest lyrics on the album.
 
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