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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Opium Symphony

Blame It on the Radio

Review by Gary Hill

What an intriguing blend of sounds we get here. One example of how this group merges disparate sounds into something original is in the opener with a movement that feels like a cross between Rush and Cheap Trick. Other groups that come up as influences include Radiohead, Clutch and Genesis. There’s plenty of variation here and this is an exciting and entertaining progressive rock album combining modern and classic prog sounds with plenty of other musical options.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Deaf Radio
Pounding out with a sound that’s like cross between Rush and nu-metal, this works out to a sound closer to that second part when the vocals join. Still, there are some unusual changes and twists and some later moments almost seem like a melding of Rush and Cheap Trick. Then, around the three minute mark it works out to lush, rather symphonic progressive rock that has both modern and classic prog elements in the mix. It’s one heck of a left turn and a killer one at that.
Pretty Rich Beautiful
Pounding, heavy rock is heard here. After running like that for two and a half or so minutes, it works out to a slower moving, mellower section. Then it powers back out in a sound that’s part metal, part psychedelic and all cool. There’s a bit of a proggy sound for a short time at the end.
They've Got Guns
We get a cool hard rocking groove on this tune. While this isn’t the most overtly progressive rock oriented thing, it works through several changes. Then, it drops to a movement that is clearly prog but the more modern version of progressive rock, like Radiohead. They power it back out from there with some melodic hard rocking sound.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Weird sound effects open this and then they fire out into more hard rocking music that’s got a lot of industrial music mixed with psychedelia in it. That psychedelic element really becomes more prominent on the instrumental section that links the first two vocal segments together. We’re taken through a number of changes and there’s a more purely progressive rock (mind you modern prog) oriented section later. I really dig the vocal arrangement on the later portions of the tune, too.
Unknown
Overall this is mellower and more melodic. There’s almost a country of folk texture to this, but it’s still got some progressive rock in the mix. I think some of the bass line calls to mind Chris Squire.
Jukebox Junkie
There’s almost a funk meets psychedelic texture to parts of this. Other section, though are more melodic modern progressive rock with a bit of a rough edge. We get some killer wah infused guitar work bringing in more of that funk element. We’re taken through a number of changes and the later sections are even more fully proggy. I make out hints of the Beatles at times on one of the later sections. There’s sort of a false ending before a droning jam brings it back into being. It gets a real bouncing funky sound from there. They bring the rock into play again from there as it intensifies. Drums segue this into the next tune. 
Soul for Sale
The percussion from the previous number opens this and then the rock guitar just screams out with a killer classic rock sound. This is heavy and quite tasty, a bit like something from Clutch. This thing is heavy and also has a ton of changes and alterations. It’s a very unusual and cool arrangement that seems to combine a noisy modern prog sound with shoegaze and other elements.
Like Pennies You Had Me Wishing in the End
The opening segment here is rather tentative and seems to combine space rock with surf music. The vocals come in over the top of this rather subdued motif. When it gets harder rocking, it’s still quite melodic. This is one of the most purely proggy songs of the whole set, but it’s certainly a modern prog. There are a number of changes and this is really captivating. There’s a cool space meets shoe gaze mellower movement later. That transitions to a segment that’s very much in keeping with classic progressive rock. I’m actually reminded of mid-period Genesis a bit. Then it rocks out more from there as the jam keeps building. Certainly it’s hard edged and more modern, but it’s also decidedly progressive rock.
High
The first section of this is rather balladic and mellow. As it grows out later it’s got a modern progressive rock meets psychedelia sound. The hook on this thing is absolutely classic. The guitar solo is extremely tasty and reminds me a bit of Slash. After that point the tune rocks out with more of a hard edge for a time before dropping back to the earlier melodic segment. This is such a classic rock styled tune and it’s one of the most accessible and best pieces here.
Blame It On the Radio
The title track combines a lot of the element heard on the rest of the disc in bouncing kind of jam that’s heard edged and very tasty. That holds it for the first couple minutes, then they drop it down to much mellower sounds from there. We get a psychedelically tinged, ballad-like movement that’s pretty awesome from there.
In This Together
The opening section has hints of country music in it, as does the chorus. The track really has a bouncy kind of sound that combines modern progressive rock with a 1960s pop rock sound. It’s a tasty number that’s quite tasty.
Gospel
The whole hard rocking meets psychedelic and alternative rock format of this tune works really well. It’s really not very proggy, but it’s quite cool.
Return of the Ghost
The bulk of this cut is the symphonic prog based instrumental segment. It gives way to a short, bouncy melodic tune for the vocals. It’s a cool way to end the set in style.
 
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