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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Days Between Stations

In Extremis

Review by Gary Hill

Here is quite an intriguing album from Days Between Stations. While I liked their previous release, I didn’t really expect this one to be as great as it is. I don’t think I’d label it a “masterpiece,” but it is quite good. There is a song or two here that don’t seem all that special and at times it seems to suffer from a little incongruity, but just on the strength of the more epic pieces, this is well worth having in any progressive rock fan’s collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
No Cause for Alarm

Powering in with a dramatic staccato section, this turns from there into some equally dramatic progressive rock moving in a bit of a different direction. There are some cool instrumental excursions over the top of the fairly constant back drop. This is modern yet also firmly set in old school symphonic prog. It’s also pretty and quite powerful. It’s a great way to start things off in style. This introductory instrumental moves through a number of changes, turning quite mellow at times and bombastic at other points.

In Utero

This seems to come right out of the previous piece. It starts mellow and stays that way for a while. After the one minute mark a guitar rises up, crying over the sedate backdrop. It brings a real Pink Floyd kind of vibe to the proceedings. This instrumental never really rises beyond the level of mellow, but it does make some cool progress nonetheless. It also seems to segue into the next piece.

Visionary

Although this remains mellow for a time, it powers out to some powered up, but still rather moody, progressive rock that’s got energy and drive. This is the first tune with vocals and I love the multiple layers of vocals that emerge. They really take this through some great changes. An instrumental movement later features some great keyboard elements. They power it through some more rocking sounds after that for the next vocal movement. It works through in a straight line for a while. Then it drops way down and there’s a mellow movement with some guitar soloing gently over the top. Somehow that section calls to mind Pink Floyd again. The guitar playing really does make me think of David Gilmour, even when there are some hints of country in them. That section eventually takes this one out after the ten and a half minute mark.

Blackfoot

Another piece that tops ten minutes in length, keyboards open this in fairly gentle fashion. That movement holds the song for a time. Then a fusion-like guitar weaves lines of melody over the top of the arrangement as this continues. We’re taken through a number of shifts and changes. At times it gets quite mellow. Then it works out to more powered up jamming with a bit of an Eastern element. Overall, though, this remains quite fusion oriented as it continues. There is some nice piano soloing over the top later, too. This instrumental is diverse and dynamic, but still more or less a straight line.

The Man Who Died Two Times
This is the most straightforward rocker of the set. It reminds me a lot of something from Circa:. It got a great modern progressive rock meets pop rock vibe to it.
Waltz in E Minor
Here we get a short piece that’s quite classical. Of course, the title kind of gives that away.
Eggshell Man

The more mainstream prog element heard on “The Man Who Died Two Times” returns here. However, it’s tempered with the more symphonic modes that made up the cut that preceded this one. A little before the four minute mark it powers out into some dramatic and harder rocking prog. There is some piano that solos later and really this segment feels like a great merging of modern and classic progressive rock sounds. It get quite intense as it keeps building upward. Then, around the five minute mark it crescendos. They take it out into an energized world music jam from there. Powerhouse prog jamming eventually takes it, the guitar at times crunchy and the keyboard sounds classic. This jam eventually resolves out and then a cool melodic guitar line takes things in a new direction. Keyboards solo over the top in fine fashion. Eventually we’re taken back to the song proper for it to finally end.

In Extremis

Dramatic, but somewhat understated, music starts this. Some rather Gregorian vocals are heard as it starts to build. That holds it for the first couple minutes. Then it drops down and a new, even more sedate section comes in to continue. Eventually we’re taken into a more mainstream progressive rock meets pop rock styled section that builds up in intensity as lines of vocals weave a trail. An instrumental section comes in at the end of that passage and the piece keeps rising up through that. Then it crescendos and drops away. A keyboard dominated, slow moving, atmospheric section takes over from there. Vocals eventually come in over that backdrop. There is a gradual building process there, but while the vocals continue this doesn’t really rise up far. Then a new instrumental section powers in with the keyboards really driving it forward. As that section seems to reach a climax some rather Emerson-like keyboard work takes it. Then guitar rises up to lead the track in new directions. They explode out from there in a faster paced, more energetic jam. They work that movement through for a while and then it drops way down for the next set of vocals. The piece eventually builds back out into a real triumphant progressive rock jam. There are a number of twists and turns along that road, too. At over twenty minutes of music, this piece is epic in size, but it’s also epic in scope.

 
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