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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Charles Brown

Storm Rising

Review by Gary Hill

This disc from Denver, Colorado native Charles Brown is fully instrumental. The music wanders between hard rock, fusion and more melodic prog. While it’s not fully prog, it’s close enough to fit under that heading. This is a great all instrumental album in the tradition of guys like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. There’s a lot of variety here, and every song works quite well.

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

Track by Track Review
Storm Rising

This comes in mellow, with a fusion meets prog kind of style. It turns heavier, but there are enough melodic elements to keep it from being metal. There are some sections here that make me think of James Bond music. Around the four minute mark it shifts to more pure melodic fusion territory. There’s some smoking hot guitar soloing and the cut moves towards space rock later.

Ocean of Storms
Mellow elements lead this off, but it threatens to power out into some crunchy music. From there, though, it settles back to more sedate territory to continue, but there are bursts of power. As this continues it builds on the mellow prog rock with crunch layers concept. This one has an almost symphonic element, not in terms of instrumentation, but rather sonic identity. It works through a number of shifts, though, and around the five minute mark drops back to seriously mellow territory. It builds out from there in new directions, very gradually and with a space rock meets prog sound. That section doesn’t hold it for long, though. Then it powers out to a very heavy movement that’s nearly metal. It’s riff driven and powerful. It does move out to a section that really is heavy metal after a time. Then around the ten minute mark it drops to just atmospheric and lush keyboards. From there it shifts to more fusion oriented sounds to carry forward. Some killer keyboard melodies are heard overhead later.
Hie folget ein tatz (Dance of the Washerwoman)
Less than two minutes in length, this is just an acoustic guitar solo.
On The Wings of Lightning
This starts on acoustic guitar. That instrument holds it alone for quite a while, growing gradually. Around the one minute forty five second mark it powers out to near metallic territory, screaming out. While it feels a bit like Rush at first, it works out more into fusion sounds for a while. Then it feels more metallic for a time and it works between those two sounds. It drops to sedate keyboards after a time. Then a melodic guitar sound rises up to move the cut forward. Again, hints of Rush, appear, perhaps a bit like “Natural Science,” but with some fusion also on the boards. Then around the eight minute mark it gets more metallic. That motif holds it to the end.
Avalanche Warning
This comes in melodic and quite tasty. It stays mellow for quite a while, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t drama. After the space rock styled introduction it modulates out to an acoustic guitar solo that has a definite flamenco air to it. Around the three minute mark it becomes harder rocking and we get some killer instrumental movements. There are some more Rush-like bits on this cut, but also some more fusion along with some other classic rock.
Rain of Fire
This one comes in hard rocking and yet melodic. It sorts out to more metallic territory as it continues. There is some killer keyboard work on this one.
Mist Rising
A melodic number, this one feels like something from Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. It’s a fairly short one.
 
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