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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Rexartrefkin

Rex 1

Review by Gary Hill

Rexartrefkin is a trio from Florida and Rex 1 is their four song debut. While, it may only contain four songs, the disc still weighs in at almost twenty-five minutes in length. Songs of that duration beg comparisons to the progressive rock of the 1970s, and certainly it doesn’t end there. The complex arrangements and intense musicianship also bear references to such bands as Yes, Rush and King Crimson.

The sound here is more modern, though. It doesn’t shy away from the classic and progressive rock roots, but it stretches further into modern hard rock, as well. In fact, it seems obvious that these guys try hard to steer clear of any kind of rules or conventions or formats. The disc is one that gets better with repeated listening, but most complex music is that way.

While at times, Rexartrefkin’s reach seems to exceed their grasp, this CD shows them to be extremely talented musicians. It’s far better for a band to try something that they can’t easily do, than to just play it safe and do the mainstream thing because it’s easy. While this release is not perfect, it shows a lot of promise. It will be interesting to see what this group comes up with next. They’ve got the chops and the spirit of adventure and musical exploration. The mad skills necessary to fulfill their vision will likely come with more experience.

Track by Track Review
Aquiessence

This seems to have some sections where the vocals get a little off-key. In addition, the production feels rather muddy and cluttered at times on this piece. Both of those factors, particularly when matched to the quality of the remaining music, points to the fact that putting “Aquiessence” in the opening slot might have been a mistake. The vocal and production problems early on might send some listeners running away. The thing is, they actually pull it all together very well later in a jam that’s hard hitting and very much in a dramatic epic classic rock style. For that reason, the track might have worked better closing the set than opening it.  “Aquiessence” is the most dynamic piece, starting with an almost balladic motif and working out into hard rocking progressive music as it continues. Comparisons to Rush, think “Natural Science,” would be warranted in the way the composition builds. The section that takes the cut later is almost heavy metal in some ways, but the non-lyrical vocals that come over the top pull it more into classic rock and work really well. One might compare it to a more modern Led Zeppelin, if the thought was the more epic Zeppelin referenced by pieces like “Kashmir.”

Midnight Queen
This is a more mainstream number. Energized and powerful, it’s more pure rocker, but there are still some riff driven sections that reach towards progressive rock. At three-minutes and forty-eight seconds in length, it is not only the most mainstream cut here, but also the shortest.
Dream Of.../theResartrefkinland
This comes in with a riff that’s a bit Rush-like, but early Rush. The vocals, though, are delivered with a real hard rock texture and they are among the most effective ones on the set. They shift to a more strange section where processed vocals come across an even more turbo-charged riff. It works back to the song proper after a time, though. Then they take it out into a jam beyond that which is likely the second portion of the track listed in the title. The comparisons to Rush are again very valid, but something more akin to the jam in the middle of “Bytor and the Snowdog.” It’s noisy, but also very tasty.
Boys Will Be Boys
The closer on the disc is an anti-war song, “Boys Will Be Boys.” It has a rather funky texture to it, calling to mind something like Living Colour, just a bit. While it’s definitely a hard rock song, it has a real soulful element. There are even hints of a harder rocking, more modern Grand Funk Railroad on this.
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