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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Rites at Dawn

Review by Gary Hill

2011 is shaping up as a year that’s extremely conducive to some killer progressive rock. It seems like every time you turn around there’s a smoking hot new prog album coming out. This disc is no exception. Fans of classic prog will love it, and it’s likely to make some “best of 2011” lists. The musical style here fits somewhere between Yes, Genesis, ELP and Starcastle. A lot of the times it seems closer to Starcastle than anything else, but there are sections that call to mind other sounds, too. However you slice it, though, this is a great album that’s sure to please progressive rock purists.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review

A short instrumental, this is a mostly ambient and textural introductory piece. It features some backwards tracked bits and a lot of drama.

Lá Bealtaine
This powers out very much like Yes, but with a more retro sounding keyboard element. Comparisons to Starcastle and even Emerson Lake and Palmer would be appropriate, but the vocals are certainly along the Yes and Starcastle line of thought. This works through a number of cool changes and alterations in a way that’s sure to please progressive rock purists. There’s a killer jam later that’s very much in a Yes type of sound. The guitar soloing on it is appropriately Howe-like. This is one of those pieces that just keeps changing and growing. There’s a cool space rock meets jazz bit around the four and a half minute mark.
In Orbit
They bring this in with a smoking hot Emerson Lake and Palmer like jam. Then it drops back to a very understated movement for the first vocals. They power it out from there in a smoking hot jam that’s very much along the lines of Starcastle. The cut works through a lot of changes and alterations while still maintaining recurring and consistent themes. Starcastle is the biggest reference on hand, but there are things like ELP and Nektar to be heard, too. They find a great balance between more energized and mellower sections. This is a prog epic in the style of old prog epics, but it still feels fresh. Around the ten minute plus mark there’s a killer keyboard solo. As it rises out from there they give us some of the strongest material of the whole disc.
This Past Presence
Acoustic guitar leads it off here and as other elements are added that mellow presence is maintained. The vocals come in gentle and the number builds very gradually. Keyboards work over the top in lush patterns after a while. Around the two minute mark this fires out in a smoking hot jam that’s hard edged and dramatic. It’s got a cool driving, and yet slightly off-kilter, rhythm section. They take it out to a different rocking jam from there, but then drop it way down to continue. The vocals return over this mellower soundscape. It builds back up from there with a series of changes and alterations. Around the five minute mark it pounds out into harder rocking progressive rock. Then a piano driven section takes it through another fast paced instrumental segment. A drop back to almost only piano takes it at the end and closes the piece.
A Faerie's Play

Unless it’s Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots,” any song takes a big hit in terms of credibility in my book when it has “faerie” or “fairies” in the title. This rises up feeling a little like Genesis. Then it fires out into a killer fast paced prog jam. They change it around and work out different segments in an arrangement that’s very much like a cross between Yes, Genesis, Starcastle and ELP. While the title pushed me back a few steps, the music redeems it. They drop it way down later for a mellower vocal section, but then bring it back out to rocking territory in satisfying ways. They work through a number of changes and this is a great piece of classic progressive rock. This is one of those pieces that’s very much one change after another. It features some smoking hot performances and great classic prog sounds. And yet, they manage it all in a track that’s less than five and a half minutes long.

The River
Emerson Lake and Palmer with a harder rocking classic sound is merged with Pentwater as this screams out of the gate. When it drops back to more purely melodic sounds for the verse it feels a lot like Nektar. Just like the rest of the disc, don’t get too comfortable because these guys just keep changing and altering things as the cut keeps moving along. It’s another powerhouse with a lot of smoking hot music and diverse elements. There are harder rocking moments and mellower sections. Different movements call to mind different bands, but overall this seems coherent and cohesive.
Lucid Dreams
This instrumental is basically a bookend to the track that opened the album. It’s almost like a mirror image.
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