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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Vanishing Point

The Fourth Season

Review by Gary Hill

I’m not sure why, but I set this disc aside for a while. I remember thinking that it was fairly generic epic metal. Well, it comes close, but honestly, I’d consider it a lot more in the vein of Dream Theater’s brand of progressive rock. Sure, there’s a good chunk of metal here – but this really isn’t generic. Perhaps I got that impression because these guys make it sound so easy because they have the music mastered so well. It’s a safe bet that this will be too metallic for the progressive rock purists out there – but for the rest of us it comes recommended.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Embodiment

A powerhouse symphonic metal approach opens this set. The cut grows from there to more of a metallic prog vein for the entrance of the vocals. There are some hooks, and this is quite crunchy. Full on prog styled elements take it for a time during the instrumental section mid-track. This is a great way to start the disc in style.

Tyranny of Distance
There’s still some metal on this, but it’s definitely more firmly rooted in a modern hard edged progressive rock sound. The opener was strong in that it had a lot of energy and fury. This one still has some of that, but it also has an increased focus on intense emotion and has more subtlety woven into it. It is somewhat a powered up anthemic ballad and it’s also quite Dream Theater-like. It’s definitely not restricted by that anthemic ballad setting, though.
Surrender
This is even more purely modern prog rock in nature. It’s also got a bit of a classic rock tinge to it, but yet it’s not lost the metal edge completely. This is quite a cool song – and has even more dynamic range than the previous one. I’d say that those Dream Theater links are still there, but less prominent. As much as I liked the two openers, this one is even stronger. 
Hope Among the Heartless
With a fairly prog meets metal verse, the chorus to this is extremely catchy. Certainly the epic metal sound is all over this, but there’s still plenty of progressive rock in the mix, too. There’s an especially tasty classically tinged mid-track instrumental break. A second break has some killer Eastern-oriented progressions and is even stronger than the first one. 
Gaia - The Path of the Unknown
This instrumental is short, keyboard oriented and quite pretty. 
I Within I
One of the most purely metal tracks here, there’s still enough progressive rock on hand to keep the modern prog fan happy. That said, the prog purists will probably consider this pure heavy metal. Whatever you call it, though it’s a strong song and reminds me a bit of Queensryche and Fates Warning. There are some cool changes on the number and some of them bring it more closely into the progressive rock realm. 
Beyond the Open Door
Here’s another example of a merging of epic metal with more modern progressive rock. This is a strong cut and has enough of its own uniqueness to keep this journey from feeling redundant. There’s some especially interesting guitar work on this one. 
Ashen Sky
The intro here has sound effects and keys and a spoken voice. They power it out from there into something very close to Dream Theater. This is another killer cut and seems to hearken to DT’s first disc to my ear. There’s a killer symphonically oriented movement later in the number. 
One Foot on Both Worlds
They lead off here with a distinctly fusion-oriented journey. They build on this for a time but eventually power out into some metallic territory. This is one of the most dynamic pieces on show. It’s also one of the best. They take it back out into mellower motifs later in the piece, too.
Wake Me
Although in many ways this doesn’t differ a lot from much of the music here it’s got one of the most compelling vocal arrangements and some especially tasty keyboard work. 
Day of Difference
What an intriguing cut this is! It’s mellow, but not in a traditional ballad approach. There’s an almost galloping kind of melody holding it down and yet it’s subtle. Much of the vocals arrangement here is spoken – in a dramatic, theatrical way. This is one of my favorite cuts here and an unusual, but effective, way to close the set.
 
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