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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kingbathmat

Overcoming the Monster

Review by Gary Hill

This is a pretty impressive disc. In fact, it might well make my best of 2013 list. The blend of sounds here is both classic and unique. More often than not I’m reminded of Pentwater here, but there are other options, as well. This is great modern prog with major tips of the hat to the classic stuff. It’s a killer ride.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sentinel

The hard rocking instrumental section that opens this and runs through for quite sometime has a lot in common with modern Rush. They drop things way down to a keyboard dominated progressive rock section for the first vocal movement of the album. A dramatic instrumental movement takes it from there. As that instrumental movement continues to evolve, it eventually becomes the backdrop for a different vocal appearance. It drops down to just the rhythm section and the next bit of vocals come across that backdrop. It gets intensified as that continues, at times feeling like Led Zeppelin meets Dream Theater. As the vocals come across this segment later it is definitely leaning towards heavy metal.

Parasomnia
This comes in mellow and a little strange. The vocals come over the top echoey and the whole effect is trippy and rather dream-like. Then a little after the minute and a half mark it gets powered out to more of a rocking movement. It’s still rather odd and quite psychedelic, though. After working through like that for a time they power it out into more of a real rocker. It’s got great waves of keyboards over a driving, crunchy rhythm section. The cut continues evolving and at times turns towards space rock. There is also a short drop to keyboard sounds alone later in the piece, too. It does go back out to the song proper from there before they end it.
Overcoming the Monster
More energized progressive rock sounds open this one. There are some rather noisy, almost metallic elements as this opening section continues. They drop it to a mellower, more melodic movement that makes me think quite a bit of Pentwater. It grows from there organically. They drop it way down to a movement that has world music and classical in the mix along with a lot of that Pentwater vibe. From there it eventually powers out into a melodic and triumphant prog jam. The heavier sound emerges later. This is an ever changing piece that has a lot of great musical moments and real magic.
Superfluous
This pounds in quite heavy and yet very progressive rock oriented. It’s almost like a prog take on old school Black Sabbath. Then it drops to a cool jazzy section with keyboards over the top of a great bass line. Guitar rises up as it continues. The guitar weaves some nice melody. As this piece evolves there is almost a funky element to it at times. It’s got a real groove in place. Yet, it’s still all prog rock. Still, further down the road we get more of that heavy sound. The final section is more purely melodic.
Reality Mining
Compared to the rest of the stuff here, this is short, but it’s still over four and a half minutes in length. I am again very much reminded of Pentwater in terms of the slightly quirky progressive lines and great vocal harmonies. There are a number of changes and alterations along this road, but it’s still fairly straightforward in terms of song growth.
Kubrick Moon
Here is an energized and powered up rocker at the start. Then they drop it way down for some pretty keyboard dominated music. Mellow, melodic progressive rock that’s more textural than anything else carries it here. The vocals come over the top, again making me think of Pentwater. As it continues, little bits of sound threaten to rise up and take over. Eventually, though, the keyboard elements rise up to add a little intensity to the same basic musical premise. More energy and layers are added making this a gradual slope upward. There are some pretty intriguing melody lines thrown out by various instruments as it continues. There are hints of fusion at times as this grows. Rather than really rise up, though, around the four minute mark it drops way down and we’re back in the same type of sound that served as the background for the first vocals. The vocals return and it starts the same sort of growing process all over. A keyboard solo drives it upward though into territory that’s more rocking than it ever saw the last time. This instrumental movement is melodic, but also quite energized. It gets even more “oomph” later as some crunch enters the fray. This is a seriously hard rocking tune that is pure old-school progressive rock by that point. A number of shifts and changes emerge and this gets very dramatic and a bit like King Crimson at times. Even some hints of punk rock emerge in some of the musical modes later. Still, it just keeps shifting and changing. Then it drops down, around the eight and a half minute mark to more textural sounds for the next vocals. Eventually as more sound and energy is added it moves towards space rock. Another drop to texture is heard for the final vocals.
 
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