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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Sunset Black

Common Ground

Review by Gary Hill

Common Ground shows a band that seems a bit green and in-experienced, but with a lot of potential. If these guys do it right, expect great things from them. On the plus side, they seem to be carving out their own sound from the genres of alternative rock, prog metal and Emo. On the downside, the disc drags a bit, and there is a definite sameness to a lot of the material here. If you give this one a shot, do yourself a favor and stick through to the end because it is in the final few cuts that Sunset Black seem to really pull it off. That is not to say that there is not good material in the beginning, there are a few shining moments, but the most consistently strong segment of the disc is the last one. I for one am looking to hear what they do with their next album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Standing
Stomping in is more like it, this one comes in with an old school punkish thunder, then switches gears to something more akin to new alternative rock as the vocals enter.
The Wait
More metallic and less punk, this one feels a bit like stripped-down thrash. It is good, but not particularly Earth-shattering.
Timing Is Reason
At first listen this one doesn't seem all that special. Further examination, though, shows it to be quirky and a little off-kilter. This is a slower tempo, more thoughtful number that feels a bit like a neo-alternative take on a prog metal arena ballad. It is quite cool.
Next In Line
Feeling as though it bursts straight out of the previous cut, this is a vaguely punky take on a prog metal type number. It gets more new alternative oriented as it carries on.
This Place
Another that seems to flow out of the song that preceded it, this one feels a bit too much like that one.
Drowning
This one is quite interesting. It feels a lot like the mellower side of Tool, fairly dark and gloomy. It is somewhat mysterious and haunting in texture, particularly on the outro.
Silent Regrets
This is another instance where the band's sameness seems to wear thin, as this number seems a lot like much of the earlier new alternative sound of which the band seems so fond
You're Breaking
By now the lack of versatility is becoming very intense, as this is the second cut in a row of fairly generic material. This one does redeem itself a bit by wandering more into Emo-oriented territory, though, setting itself in a bit of a unique place.
You Pretend
This one is more Emoish than anything else on the disc, but still has a good dark edge to it. It is quite emotional and a definite standout.
Empty Promises
A change of pace here, this one come in truly mellow and balladic. It gets harder edged later, but is still one of the stronger tracks on the album.
What I Do
Now, this is a rocker with an original sound and solid riff. The verse is a bit generic, but the main riff makes up for it. This is one of the hardest rockers and strongest cuts on the disc.
Last Song
The band have really hit their stride late, and this closing number feels a bit like a new alternative take on vintage Zeppelin at times. It is considerably potent and a great way to end the album on a high note.
 
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