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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Grönholm

Silent Out Loud

Review by Gary Hill

The line between progressive metal and metallic prog is an intriguing one. Sure, there are a lot of progressive rock purists who will say that anything that has metal in it doesn’t qualify as prog. You have to wonder what those folks think of songs like Yes’ “Machine Messiah.” This disc is one that really skates the thin border between the genres. Ultimately, after going back and forth on it, I decided that it was more metal than prog – but it was a very close decision. However you see the balance panning out, though, this is one of the coolest and most creative discs I’ve heard in a long time. Fans of both modern metallic prog and prog metal will love this. It’s probably too heavy for the prog purists, but personally, I think those guys need to expand their horizons a little.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Cross of Mind

A smoking progressive rock jam opens this. It’s heavy, but also fast paced and intricate. As it works out from there, this resembles Dream Theater quite a bit. It drops to a more stripped back arrangement for the first vocals, but this thing is packed with intricate shifts and turns, often while the singing is continued. Sure, it has a lot of metallic sound within, but there’s no way an arrangement this crazed and shifting is anything but progressive rock. The multiple layers of vocals work extremely well, too.

Distorted Eyes
The argument could be made that this song is heavy metal, that part’s for sure. It’s definitely heavier and more straight forward, but there are enough shifts, changes and other progressive rock elements to keep it interesting.
Under My Star
Super heavy, this one feels like a proggier version of Electric Wizard in a lot of ways. There are some dramatic and magical layers of sound that come over the top. It’s a real screamer. There’s a drop back to a mellower motif mid song, too.
Vanity
Here’s a cut that combines the metal and progressive rock elements in a very interesting way. It is incredibly heavy, but yet there are more melodic, mellower sections. It’s extremely dynamic and powerful. I’d have to say this is one of the coolest pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. I can’t really decide if I’d call it “progressive rock” or “heavy metal.” I’d definitely call it great.
Out From the Nest
Bass guitar brings this one in and it shifts out towards a proggy kind of thrash metal. The riffing that drives this is incredibly meaty and powerful. There is a movement that’s melodic progressive rock later in the track.
Race is On
This feels so much like 1980s anthemic metal with a modern twist that it’s amazing. It’s definitely straightforward heavy metal with epic rock textures. It’s also extremely powerful and accessible.
Giant Step
This riff driven piece is sort of a modern take on the bluesy metal sounds of the 1970s. The guitar playing calls to mind the guitar heroes of that era, too. The cut is an instrumental and does include one repeated foray into melodic, proggier territory. Of course, it turns out to a piano solo driven section that’s decidedly progressive rock oriented.
Set the Stones
An acoustic guitar based ballad sound starts this off and builds out in a killer arrangement. It’s definitely a dramatic rock ballad that fits well into metal.
Dawn of a Dream
This is a short, intricate and delicate acoustic guitar solo.
Away
If more of the album resembled this, it would land under progressive rock instead of heavy metal. This is a mellow and powerful keyboard oriented ballad. It’s got a lot of emotion packed into it and some lush layers of sound.
 
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