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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alessandro Bertoni

Keystone

Review by Gary Hill

This instrumental album is quite strong. One might quibble with the progressive rock heading, but if it fits anywhere else it would be under fusion. For my money there is enough rock here (really isn’t the difference whether there is more rock or jazz in the equation?) this fits well under prog. It’s also a compelling and powerful album. There is a lot of variety from track to track and even within many of the tracks. I hear a lot of different things throughout this set of compositions, but probably the most frequent reference is Dream Theater. However you slice it, though, if you like instrumental music that leans towards fusion while rocking out, you will love this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Megas Alexandros, Pt. I: The Great Portrait

A spoken sound bite opens this. Then it powers out to a hard rocking, fast paced jam that combines heavy metal, classic prog and more into something spectacular. There is a killer melodic fusion movement later, too. There is a keyboard solo later. The ending somehow makes me think of Emerson, Lake a Palmer a bit.

Megas Alexandros, Pt. II: City of Gordium
This rises up with a mellower, jazzy vibe and the bass really shows off in the early moments. Until around the two minute mark this one stays pretty mellow. It’s overall more of a fusion kind of piece than it is anything else. It twists and turns as different instruments lead the way. Mellower sounds return later in the track, too.
Megas Alexandros, Pt. III: To the Ends of the Earth
Powering out of the previous one, the riff driven sound in the early sections seems to be one part Dream Theater and one part Deep Purple. It’s a real screamer, but the melody remains a key component. It shifts to a more fusion oriented jam later with some tasteful guitar soloing. There is a return to the harder rocking, riff driven movement at the end.
Pacifica Rampage
Mellower music opens this and there is almost a Rush meets fusion feeling to it in a lot of ways. As it continues it shifts to some screaming hot fusion for a time. Then it drops back to mellower more melodic sounds that seem to combine fusion with space music. It keeps shifting and changing as it works through and this is one of the cooler and more dynamic pieces of the set, really. It’s also one of the strongest.
Tertium Non Datur
A high energy number this has both a hard edged element and a real groove to it. The keyboards lend a retro texture, while the song is also quite in line with modern neo-prog. It’s another with several different modes and sounds to it.
Galactic Halo
While there is sort of futuristic fusion sound to this it also has a real classic groove. It’s fast paced and just plain fun. It shifts out to some of the most freeform fusion of the whole album later, but then works back out into a section that’s quite tied to mainstream prog.
The Keystone Age
As this opens the same kind of modern prog with fusion concept is in the driver’s seat. There’s a cool section mid-track, though, that feels more like a classic rock guitar hero kind of thing. It’s the only point on the album where we hear something like that, and it’s a great touch.
Magnolia Sunrise
Keyboards open this and hold much of the piece. It’s mellower and a bit more quirky than the rest of the set. I love some of the great fusion bass work on this beast. Overall, I’d land this one as spacey jazz. It ends with a very mellow movement.
 
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