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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Blood of Heroes

The Blood of Heroes

Review by Gary Hill

I know, I know, this is not traditional progressive rock. That doesn’t make it any less progressive. The music here covers a lot of purely prog territory with space rock elements and some modern shoegaze type stuff. There is also techno in the mix and the majority of the vocals are rap. To me, that kind of merging of disparate elements was a big part of what the original progressive rock was all about. Sure, these genres aren’t the ones that Yes and ELP relied on, but they weren’t around then. My guess is that those groups were like a sponge, absorbing what was around them and pulling it together to form a sonic stew that was their own creation. Had more modern forms of music existed then, they would have made it into the mixture. In any event, whatever you call this, it’s a unique and powerful album. I like it a lot. I’m not sure it will make my list of best releases of 2010, but I’m positive it will get an honorable mention. Mind you, the main reason I’m not sure about inclusion on the list is that there is just so much incredible music coming out this year it raises the bar exceptionally high. In a different year it would have been a shoe in.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Blinded

Sound bites and sound effects give way to a jam that’s driven by an ultraheavy bass. The vocals are basically a rap coming over the top of this. They have a rasta feel to them, though and are echoey – at least at first. As this continues, it moves out a more traditional rap, but the music is killer metal. The other rapping returns for the chorus and it feels almost techno at times. Later in the track it shifts out to a frantically paced movement with soundbites coming over the top here and there. This is like techno, but on steroids.

Chains
This instrumental is more purely progressive rock. It’s somber and rather dark, but it’s also pretty. There is still some techno on this, but it’s not that far removed from something you might hear from Porcupine Tree. It’s a powerful piece.
Salute to The Jugger
I would basically say that this track is kind of like a combination of the first two in terms of style. We get the rasta styled raps, but the music is closer to a mellower version of techno. 
Breakaway
Another instrumental, this combines space rock elements with techno and hard rock for a mix that’s quite intriguing. There’s definitely some shoegaze in this, too. 
Transcendent
This instrumental is more purely proggy. There’s still some of that heavy music on show and a rather techno rhythm section, but it’s got a lot of space rock in the mix, too. 
Repositioned
Seeming like science fiction, the vocals on this are a distant reading, rather like something from early Rush. The music seems to be a percussive based, space rock meets techno approach. 
Remain
A heavier cut, this is very percussive and experimental. I’d probably consider this to be a marriage of Rock in Opposition and space music. It’s moody and dark and also instrumental.
Wounds Against Wounds
This one has some stoner metal and some techno, but overall it’s a prog sort of shoegaze music.
Descend Destroy
There is a spoken rap on this cut, but it’s got a lot of that doomy metallic texture and some serious shoegaze music to it. While the vocals are rap, I can’t imagine calling this anything other than modern progressive rock. There are some cool space rock elements later in this piece.
Bound
An energized cut, this combines techno and modern prog like Djam Karet into an interesting instrumental (there are some vocals in the distance more as window dressing) motif. There are bits of Asian music here and there on this, too.
Drift
The closing track is techno meets space meets shoegaze meets hip hop. It’s another cool piece of music.
 
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