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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Marks Brothers

Into the Light

Review by Gary Hill

The music here is related to the guitar hero music of the late 1970s. It’s got a lot of classic rock built into it along with some fusion and progressive rock. Perhaps it’s not a tight fit into the prog rock category, but I think it’s close enough to make the cut. The disc is all instrumental and guitar dominated, and therein lies the key problem with the set. When music is fully instrumental, it’s very important to change up the sound a lot. Otherwise it feels like one very long song. That sort of phenomenon pervades the later parts of this disc. For that reason, the songs here are strong if taken individually, but the whole thing suffers a bit when played as an album. While that factor is true, it means that album is a good one, not a great one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Arrival 2010

While this rises up slowly, it powers out into a jam that feels a lot like a more fusion oriented version of 1970s Rush. It’s a killer tune with a lot of great soloing shown on all instruments.

Driven
This comes in rather tentatively, then powers out into some serious hard rock meets prog sounds with a classic rock edge. Guitar solos over the top of this beast in tasty fashion and there are a number of twists and turns in the arrangements.
Into the Light (radio)
Guitar dominates this one as the progressive rock meets classic rock concept continues. There is a bit of a world feel to some of the soloing on this, but you might also make out some fusion here. It drops back later to an unaccompanied guitar solo section, but then rises back up into some real fusion.
Divine Tears
A mellower and more melodic tune, this one is well within the realm of fusion, but there are some hints of classic rock to be heard.
Epic
If there’s a song here that doesn’t fit under the heading of progressive rock, this would be it. There’s a lot of guitar heroics on display here and it’s not that far removed from many of the guitar hero discs that used to be so common. Yes, there are a few traces of progressive rock here, but only a few. As one might guess from the guitar hero comparisons, there is some seriously tasty soloing to be heard.
Spanish Dreams
A sedate and intricate acoustic guitar pattern leads off here. In fact, this whole track is an acoustic guitar solo with definite Latin (you’d expect that from the title wouldn’t you?) leanings to it.
Technoman
There’s a bit of a modern vibe to this piece, but the title kind of conveys that concept. The guitar solos all over it, and in some ways it’s a bit too much like the other music here. This kind of instrumental rock is hard to pull off for a full album without some real variety and the formula is starting to wear a little thin by this point.
Sorrow
As the title might suggest, this is a mellower cut, but otherwise much of the same concepts are here. The percussion track, though, really feels like a drum machine and kind of distracts from the rest of the music (partly because it’s too far up in the mix). The track is reborn around the two minute mark into a crunchier version of itself and the drums fall further into the backdrop and that helps the cut.
Into the Light (extended)
As the title suggests, this is a longer version of the number heard earlier in the set. In many ways it would have been better to put this version at the beginning and the radio edit near the end because by this point, a real monolithic element is emerging. That makes it hard for this piece (which is exceptional) to shine. It just feels like more of the same.
Echoes of the Storm
In some ways this is the proggiest number on show here. It’s mellower and has a lot of layers of sound working through. It’s echoey and quite cool. In some ways it also changes the paradigm a bit, but it’s a little too late.
 
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