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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Sonic Debris

Velvet Thorns

Review by Gary Hill

This album is a great progressive rock disc from a band that should go far in the genre. They take a good healthy dosage of Dream Theater influences as the core of their sound. They then add other elements, many of the more modern, to create their own sound. The result is hard-edged and powerful progressive rock that should please most fans of that style.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Kiss & Kill
Beginning with sedate piano tones, as the rest of the band jumps in, it is in the form of hard edged prog that leans toward metal and seems to call to mind Dream Theater a bit. As the cut carries on, it gets quite quirky in its arrangement. The textures and modes jump all over the place; to the point that it is hard to believe that this track is only 5 minutes long.
Snowflake
A killer intro begins this one, a piece that feels a lot like Dream Theater. It features an awesome instrumental break with great performances all the way around.
Dead Man
A fast and furious prog intro quickly drops away to an evocative sort of balladic mode This cut is actually a bit U2ish at times. It has some strong pop sensibilities within its prog structure. It explodes into progressive fury at one mid point, then moves back to its accessible chorus. The outro of this one is incredible with prog textures and U2 leanings combining in an arrangement that features some killer vocal work.
Velvet Thorns
A mellow and rather jazzy mode begins this one. The cut then moves into a very evocative balladic style for the remainder of the intro. Harder prog textures explode to herald the next segment of the track. A great hard rocking texture, with a quirky arrangement, forms the theme for the next segment the cut. A brief effects oriented respite emerges, then this harder style returns. A moodier, sedate segment ends the piece.
Virtual Step
An almost Smashing Pumpkins mode, the mellower variety, begins this one. After a time, a quirky hard-edged prog riffing takes over. The cut alternates between these modes and gets quite DTish at times.
Bustale
Prog with modern rock elements makes up the core of this one. The verse being in a stripped down style that really seems to feel a lot like many of the modern "alternative" bands that are out there.
New Horizon
Fast crunchy and furious, this one is high-energy prog in the style of DT.
New Angel
Phony crowd noises lace this average track. The number is brisk and peppy, but doesn't cover any new ground at all.
New Narrow Needle Groove
Very hard-edged and crunchy, this cut is quite metallic.
My Aching Pain
Starting in more sedate modes, this one slowly builds, feeling a lot like more recent Marillion at its onset. The cut has more in common with more modern rock than with the prog that seems to have greatly influenced the rest of the disc. After a time it dissolves into sound effects, then begins rebuilding in a piano oriented mode, coming up very slowly from the near silence. As it continues its extended build, it is in a classical sort of fashion with some intentional "clunkers" thrown in for good measure. That mode continues on for several minutes and ends both the song and the CD.
 
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