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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Sieges Even

The Art of Navigating by the Stars

Review by Gary Hill

Apparently this band started off as a progressive metal/thrash band. They have definitely moved into more pure progressive rock range these days. Sure there is still some heavy metal on some of this music, but for the most part it’s pure prog – and a blend that seems pretty well balanced between classic and modern. Call this music what you like, but call it great – because it is. The songs all carry on with numerous variations and changes and this is one of the better discs of its kind. 

Track by Track Review
Intro: Navigating by the Stars
This is just a short little introduction that combines textural keyboard like sounds with a baby cooing and laughing.
Sequence I: The Weight
At over ten minutes in length this is a mini-epic. The bass comes up and brings it in from the last number and there’s a definite Dream Theater meets Rush texture to this. They take it out to a more full thrash bit for a measure or two, then drop it way down for the vocals. That harder edged burst returns to punctuate this vocal segment but then gives way to a reprise of that stripped down vocal section. As the next vocals end, though we are taken out to more pure metal for a time and then they begin and intriguing journey. First we get something akin to Dream Theater, but then as this instrumental section continues it turns to more traditional (old school) prog rock and when the vocals return there’s a bit of an AOR meets Rush feeling to this. Somehow it feels like Christian rock to me. As the track continues to be re-worked and rearranged we get some more traditional progressive rock sounds with a complex vocal arrangement and then some definite Rush-like jamming. They even take us out into something akin to fusion. If you don’t like where this piece is sitting just wait a while because it’s bound to change. Honestly, the majority is in a progressive rock, rather than such a neo-prog motif. There’s a definite Yesish non-lyrical vocal break on this. We get an extremely melodic and intricate segment as the resolution to the movement with that break. This is really one heck of a ride and it ends with a woman’s voice on the answering machine.
Sequence II: The Lonely Views of Condors
Acoustic guitar leads us out here. The vocals (sort of a wall of voices) joins atop this and the cut builds gradually from there, but jumps out to a modern prog movement that’s part Rush and part Dream Theater before it goes too far. It is taken to another mellower section for the next vocals and they keep reworking this whole thing. They alternate between these more sedate and harder rocking movements, but add to each as they return to it. The closing section on this reminds me a lot of Rush.
Sequence III: Unbreakable
Take 90125 era Yes, add in some Fates Warning and Rush and you’ve got a good idea of the mellower section here. They power it out later into some modern prog that feels a lot like Yes. This progression also shows healthy dosages of Starcastle and Rush. As they continue to work out alterations and variations we get some segments that remind me of Dream Theater, too. When they bring it back to the mellow motif for the return of the vocals it’s even more gentle and intricate. They take us through a series of adjustments and manipulations as they carry on with this thrill ride. It’s another diverse and dynamic piece on a disc with no shortage of them. 
Sequence IV: Stigmata
They start this off with an intricate acoustic guitar based movement that reminds me a lot of something from A Farewell to Kings era Rush. As they change this around and bring in new segments and sound that period of that band is still a big influence, but I also hear Genesis and Yes. This really continues twisting and turning and we get a lot of diverse music on this. It ends with a short metal section. 
Sequence V: Blue Wide Open
Vocals begin this unaccompanied and then a very pretty acoustic guitar motif rises up to lead us onward. This never rises to the point of being hard rock, but does make a number of changes and alterations. Much of this is very complex – and yet feels simple. There’s even a bit of Spanish guitar on this track. 
Sequence VI: To the Ones Who Have Failed
With a wide range of sounds and moods in many ways this doesn’t differ a lot from much of the music here. It stays more purely melodic and perhaps is tied more closely to a modern sound than some of the other music. The thing is these guys can change up their sound so much from song to song without really breaking the mold that you never feel “I’ve heard this before.”
Sequence VII: Lighthouse
This is the most musically diverse track on show. It’s also one of the most purely prog – meaning no real metal to be found. There is an almost R & B groove to parts of this – and in fact some of the lyrics give an allusion in that direction. This is a track that keeps working through and it’s got both plenty of modern and old school prog sounds in the mix. I’d have to say that this is probably my favorite cut on show here.
Sequence VIII: Styx
Describing this in detail – like with much of the album, will not really do it justice. This is diverse music that makes the journey from mellow to harder rocking (without ever climbing to the point of metal) all in the course of a cohesive work. These guys know how to pack a lot of alterations and variations in and still have everything work well together as one piece. There’s not a weak track on the disc, but this is perhaps one of the stronger ones.
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