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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Izz

The Darkened Room

Review by Gary Hill

I haven’t heard an Izz album in quite a few years. I have to say, the band has done nothing but get better in that time. This is an incredible progressive rock CD that’s captivation and powerful. It’s one of the best discs I’ve heard in a while. Every song is great and the whole thing works together like a well-tuned machine. This should appeal to both fans of classic prog rock and neo-prog aficionados. I have to say, “Bravo!”

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
Swallow Our Pride

This comes in ambient, growing into noisy, but still mellow, electronic territory. The vocals come in over the top, and the cut begins to resemble some of the moody modern progressive rock out there.  Aound the two minute mark it shifts to something almost metallic. From there we're taken out into more of a rocking modern prog sound. Still, it has elements of classic progressive rock in the mix, too. It drops to a keyboard solo before powering out to the harder rocking stuff to take it to a return to trippy electronics that eventually take the cut out.

Day of Innocence
An acoustic guitar solo starts this and holds it for a while. Vocals and other elements come over the top and then it feels like it’s about explode out. Instead it drops back down to the acoustic section and then modulates to a mellow section that’s still got more energy than something balladic. It works out to hard rocking territory from there. There’s a cool little Rush-like jam that ends the piece. While there are some non-lyrical vocals at one point in this track, it’s essentially an instrumental.
Regret
Starting with a balladic motif, this is gentle and pretty with some hints of fury coming in over the top. This works through a number of changes and variations. At times it reminds me a bit of Chris Squire solo material. It retains the ballad qualities in a lot of ways but they still manage to rock this out and incorporate a number of varying layers of sound over the top of it. Around the three to three and a half minute mark there’s a bass solo that’s so much like something Squire would do that it’s downright scary. 
Can't Feel the Earth, Part. I
This one starts off mellow and then they work it out into a killer progressive rock jam that’s got a lot of old Genesis in it at first, but then works into some RIO meets fusion territory. This carries it in some new directions as it works seemingly freeform for a while. There are definite elements of classical music here, too, though. They take us out into more traditional prog rock territory – becoming more melodic from there and this piece becomes quite powerful as it carries on. It really does make a number of changes and I can hear hints of ELP at time and Kansas at other points. This gets very intense at times. It works straight into the next number. 
Ticking Away
A fast paced jam, this is rather catchy. It feels a little like Genesis, but I can also hear Yes on this. Of course, it wouldn’t be confused for either band, having its own musical identity. 
Can't Feel the Earth, Part II
They come out of the previous track into a killer prog jam that’s the second half of the previous piece. This drops down to gentle progressive rock territory after a time and there are female vocals. Then guitar fires out in some seriously furious soloing before we launch into some more tasty prog from there. This really becomes quite an adventure. They launch into a series of varying sections and sounds and this really has an epic element to it. In fact, this one changes so frequently it would be hard for me to include all of those alterations here and would make for tedious reading. Let’s just say that if you don’t like what you are hearing you won’t have to wait long for it to change – of course, I can’t imagine you not liking it. While the first showing of this three-fer came in at less then five minutes in length, this one is over ten.
Stumbling
Here’s another killer prog tune. This has plenty of elements of both modern prog and the classic era and enough drama and change to keep the prog purists happy. 
The Message
While the overall description of this is essentially the same as the last cut – or at least it could be – this is no carbon copy by any means. Both tracks have their own unique identity. 
23 Minutes of Tragedy
This one’s a real killer. It starts with a mellow balladic motif and they continue to build on this and add in other segments. Some of this is quite intense and powerful and I’d peg this as a highlight of the set.
Can't Feel the Earth, Part III
The final outing in this trilogy (and on the disc), this one starts with a pretty guitar based ballad approach and slowly builds on that mode. Eventually it fires out into an intense prog rock jam that’s one of the best on show here. This really does a great job of closing off in a killer way.
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