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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Haze

The Last Battle

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite an ambitious album. Not all of it is progressive rock, but most of it is. It’s probably closest to something like Tempest or Jethro Tull. There are some decidedly folk music moments, too, though. All in all, I like this, but sometimes the production seems a little weak and the vocals are rough around the edges. Those are minor complaints, though and this is quite a good disc.

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
The Last Battle

Drums start off and then we get a bit of bombast before it drops to a balladic approach. This has a folk meets rock approach. There’s an old world element here, calling to mind Jethro Tull just a bit. The vocals are really quite strong on this and the whole song is written to be quite effective. Eventually we’re taken into a powered up jam that has a lot of progressive rock built into it. It also has some leanings towards Celtic music. This reminds me a bit of Tempest, but with a more symphonic prog vibe.

Grey to Blue

This is more of a folk rock tune. There are still some progressive elements in the mix. Personally, I don’t think this one is as strong as the opener.

Over the River

Starting in a classically tinged folk rock styled sound, this powers out for some real rocking prog at times. It drops back down for the verses, though. This is another that’s quite dramatic and powerful. It’s organic and also quite soaring. There are some great instrumental sections here amongst an excellent song structure.

For Real

It would be easy to say this is a folky, world music inspired rocker. It would be easy, but not entirely accurate. There’s a lot a folk prog in the mix here, too. This is a better tune than “Grey to Blue,’ but not as strong as the other three we’ve heard so far.

Dragon Fly

Now, this rocker is dramatic and powerful. It’s not overly rocking, but there are world music and fusion elements here along with more classical ones. There are bursts of pure old school prog, too.

Classic Rock Bar

Well, this song appropriately has a lot of classic rock in the mix. It’s definitely still got some of that Celtic rock in the mix, too. I don’t make out a lot of progressive rock here. This is good stuff, but far from the best thing here.

Long, Long Gone

This isn’t the proggiest tune here. In fact, it’s perhaps closer to heavy metal, but it’s got some prog in the mix. It’s also a real screamer. While it’s not my favorite piece of the set, it’s cool and brings some variety to the table.

The Barrister and the Bargast

Tempest and Jethro Tull seem the biggest influences here. It’s got a definite folk rock meets prog vibe to it. It’s another cool tune on a disc that’s full of them. It rocks out more than some of the other stuff does.

Train

Overall, the musical concept hasn’t changed from the previous track. That said, there’s a cool groove to this thing.

Silent Water

This is basically just an acoustically driven Celtic-styled instrumental piece. It’s not very long. It’s more of a transitional piece.

The Edge of Heaven

This is definitely different. Somehow I’m reminded of the melodic side of Emerson Lake and Palmer or early King Crimson. I guess the vocals make me think of Greg Lake quite a bit. There are still some of those Celtic prog leanings here. I love the variety it represents, but it’s one of the best tunes here, even without that factor. In fact, it is probably my favorite cut of the whole disc.

Is That It?

This is more like the rest of the set. It’s got a bit of a straight ahead rock vibe to it, too. This is sort of a middle of the road tune, but it has some killer guitar soloing. That said, there’s a cool prog instrumental movement later in the track that works quite well towards elevating this beast.

Balder and the Mistletoe

This instrumental starts with fairly mellow, Celtic laced progressive rock. It grows out organically from there, getting quite hard rocking as it continues. It also works towards more mainstream prog. There are some great bits of keyboard soloing in this one.

The Red Room
Here’s a cut that’s definitely more mainstream progressive rock. There are a number of shifts and changes. It’s another where the vocals sometimes make me think of Greg Lake. It’s not as effective as “The Edge of Heaven” was, but the variety it brings, along with the strength of the tune, make it worthwhile.

 

 
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