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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


March of Ghosts

Review by Gary Hill

This is likely to make a lot of people’s best of 2012 list. It seems to convey a theme in the way it’s constructed. Musically, it works between a modern progressive rock sound, something closer to Beatles-like pop music and older prog textures. However you see the leanings falling, this is an exceptional disc. It’s also got an incredibly cool, book like, classy package. All in all, this one comes highly recommended.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review

This is a symphonic introductory movement that is textural and very pretty. It eventually shifts out into the next tune.

Hell Freezes Over I
Coming out of the next cut, this starts to take on a more rock element after a time. Still, it remains pretty atmospheric and some of the guitar tones call to mind Robert Fripp. The vocals eventually join the arrangement. After a time, this powers out into some intense and lush progressive rock. There are lots of symphonic elements in the mix and the sound keeps changing and expanding as it continues. Then it drops way down to a symphonic arrangement for more vocals.
Hell Freezes Over II
This one starts mellower, with more of a progressive rock ballad approach. It’s pretty and builds out dramatically with some beautiful musical elements. In some ways there are hints of Beatles-like pop rock. It’s definitely got more of a modern prog texture to it, too. It grows out to a more rocking version of this concept. Some hints of Celtic music emerge across the top at times.
Black Lily
Coming in slow and moody, the early parts of this feel rather like a more proggy, more symphonic version of Radiohead. It grows out into more of a rocker after a time and there are some particularly dramatic melody lines that soar over the top of the mix. This is a very potent cut that’s just plain cool. As good as everything to this point was, I’d say that this one really rises above and beyond. The vocal performance is particularly evocative and the music does a great job to reinforce that element. I love the building progression that takes it later in the piece. It’s such a satisfying direction.
Gold Star
This seems to come right out of the previous number. It comes in with some Celtic elements in play, but then shifts to a more straightforward approach. There’s a lot of classic rock with alternative rock elements in the first verse. The track builds out from there in a very organic and accessible fashion. Just like everything here, this keeps growing and changing. Yet it’s so seamless and natural. You just can’t argue with that, and this is such a potent number.
Hell Freezes Over III
Coming in especially slow and mellow, this is delicate and intricate. It’s also evocative. As this gradually expands I hear ELO in the mix, along with Radiohead. It’s a fairly short number, though and only goes so far.
Mary Celeste
Mellow melodic motifs open this track and work out from there gradually. It turns to more rocking modes as it continues, feeling a bit like modern alternative rock, but eventually drops back down to a mellow and quite melancholy arrangement after a time. Then, after building back up for a time, it shifts to a full on Celtic progression after the four minute mark. Crunch guitar is added to that musical concept after a while, bringing it in a new direction.
What Did I Do?
Slow moving, delicate and pretty, this one doesn’t change very quickly at all. There are some bits of spoken soundbites that are laced over later parts of the tune. This almost feels like a funeral dirge in terms of tone and pace. Still, it’s closer to the magical, dreamy kind of music Enya does than anything one would expect as a dirge. This is one of the least dynamic cuts on show, but it’s quite effective. This seems to segue into the next number.
Coming out of the previous one, this rises up right at the start and is another that, at least early on, calls to mind Radiohead a bit. While the changes are quite subtle early on, after the four minute mark it powers out to a really crunchy progressive rock jam with a lot of energy. It turns more symphonic and jazz-like after a while. That’s just a little interlude section, though, as it turns more towards shoegaze when the crunch guitar rejoins. It eventually crescendos and then drops to a mellower, accessible movement for another verse. Then we get more power as the crunch section returns, but classical strings temper it. From there, though, it drops to strange space-oriented ambience.
The Dumb
This one starts mellow and delicate and that motif holds it for a time. It eventually powers out more with that Radiohead kind of musical concept driving it from there. It works out organically from that point, dropping back at times and then powering back out. This gets quite symphonic and powerful.
Hell Freezes Over IV
Coming in percussively, this turns to some of the crunchiest music on show. Symphonic strings are heard over the top, completing the arrangement. There is certainly a healthy dosage of epic metal in this musical concept, but it lands well on the side of progressive rock all the same. Around the two minute mark it drops to very atmospheric sounds and that holds it for a short time before they power it back out to the type of sound that made up the bulk of the piece. Hints of Pink Floyd might be heard on this tune, too. It eventually gives way to more atmosphere that takes it out in a very satisfying way.
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