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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Spoke of Shadows

Spoke of Shadows

Review by Gary Hill

This set is a powerful one. The group is a spin-off of Herd of Instinct and the album includes guest performances by Gayle Ellett of Djam Karet and Michael Harris of Thought Chamber. This is powerful progressive rock that has a lot in common with Djam Karet and King Crimson. It is likely to make it onto my “best of 2014” list. .

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dominion

This rises up texturally and gradually. Then it powers out into some metallic fury and they start working forward from there. It reminds me of Red era King Crimson as it builds. That section doesn’t stay around long, though. Instead, they drop it way down and then bring it to a more modern King Crimson sound. The bass brings more of a fusion vibe into being. The cut continues evolving from there with different sounds and textures dominating. There are so many different sounds and modes. At times it’s much mellower. At other points it’s almost metallic. King Crimson is the predominate musical reference, but there are others here, too.

Images
I love the circular kind of progression that makes up a lot of this piece. This seems to combine that King Crimson sound with Dream Theater fusion and more.
One Day
Coming in textural, this stays more or less that way. The bass brings fusion to the table, though and the piano carries melody. This does get more power and energy before it ends. Overall, though, it’s a short cut that’s very jazz-like.
Harbinger
This furious number is another that combines King Crimson with fusion. It shifts towards noisy weirdness at times and has some rather odd shifts and turns. Yet it works really well. This is arguably the most diverse and dynamic thing we’ve heard so far. At times it works toward Rock in Opposition. There’s a great mellow fusion jam complete with flute later in the piece.
Lost One
Here we get another dynamic ride. We’re taken through intricate mellower modes, more rocking ones and just about everything in between. The flute is prominent on this and the whole sound and concept is great.
Pain Map
At almost seven and a half minutes in length, this is the longest piece here. It’s got some great shifts and changes and the guitar that solos over much of this is quite magical. There are more melodic prog sections, fusion ones and a lot of other things in the midst of this. Like everything else here, it’s very effective. There’s even a weird cinematic symphonic space music section late.
Persona
The usual suspects are all here. Still, this never feels like something we’ve heard before. The guitar really gets incendiary over the top of this thing.
Splendid Sisters
A much mellower piece, this feels like a great combination of symphonic progressive rock and fusion.
Tilting at Windmills
Coming in heavy and metallic, this drops way down from there. It drops even further after a short time into quite mellow prog meets symphonic music. The powered up section returns. This continues to evolve from there. At times it gets almost Dream Theater-like. The cut turns to the metallic, thrashing section of the whole disc, too. It just keeps shifting and changing as one of the most dynamic pieces here. At times it’s quite mellow. At other points it’s more metallic. It’s always melodic and powerful, though.
Accord
A mellower piece, there is a lot of fusion built into this one. It’s pretty consistent and constant, but it’s also a great cut.
Dichotomy
This hard rocker is fiery and fast paced. It’s a real screamer that’s amongst the best tunes here.
Drama of Display
Somehow this is more world music oriented in some ways. Yet, it doesn’t feel out of place here. Additionally it has some smoking hot rocking sections and quite a bit of fusion in the mix.
 
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