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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Delusion Squared

The Final Delusion

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a strong release. The blend of sounds that Delusion Squared creates is familiar, but they way they combine things is unique. They sound like no other act, but have elements that call to mind many other bands. The female vocals beg comparisons to a lot of epic metal bands, but also to Annie Halsam’s work in Renaissance. There are times when the guitar has a real metallic flavor, but at other points it’s more like Rush and other sections are quite traditional progressive rock. There are elements of other prog acts like Yes, Kansas and more here. Yet, it’s all quite original and simply put, it’s just Delusion Squared. This is a great album that showcases a power to be dealt with in modern prog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Same River Thrice

The sound that starts this is very much classic prog. There is a little shift to more electronic music for a moment, but then it gets turned more towards crunchy hard rock. That sound gets alternated with the more pure prog elements as this continues to evolve. There is some killer guitar hero type soloing that wanders towards the psychedelic at times. This instrumental is a cool way to start the disc.

Diaspora
There’s what sounds like a startled gasp of air that opens this. Then they fire it out into more hard rocking, energetic progressive rock from there. This is another strong tune. Some of the guitar on this makes me think of Rush, but there are plenty of other sounds in the mix to temper it. They drop it mid-track to a mellow interlude. There is also a nearly metallic movement at the end. 
Patient Zero
This starts as a mellow, acoustic guitar based progressive rock ballad. The holds it for the first vocals and the first minute or so of the tune. It grows out from there with more layers of sound bringing a bit of a world music vibe. When it goes back to the verse section, though, it’s more of a powered up version of the sound that made up the first verse. More of that world music, with a bit of a retro jazz sound built into it, returns after a time for another instrumental movement. When the vocals return the music gets a more powerful progressive rock vibe. Then for the next instrumental section that world music element gets reworked with a crunchy prog arrangement. 
Reason of State
Sound effects and some theatrical monologue starts this one. Then we get acoustic guitar layered with keyboards. Vocals come in over that basic backdrop. While it’s not static that basic mellow prog sound holds it for the first two minutes. Some hard rocking elements emerge after that to move it forward. The piece combines those two sounds when the vocals return. They eventually build it out into a real powerhouse with some non-lyrical vocals soaring over the top. Then it crescendos and gives way to a piano dominated keyboard section that takes it to the end.
Devil Inside
As this comes in it feels almost like heavy metal. After the crunchy introduction works through, the song drops way down to mellow progressive rock to continue. The vocals come in over the top of an energetic, but fairly sedate arrangement. They take this through a number of changes with both harder rocking and mellower sections in place. There is a bit of theatrical effects and dialog in the middle of the piece. The mellow section that follows that is quite pretty. Just before the six minute mark they power this out to some of killer prog that reminds me a bit of Kansas. They bring it back to mellower stuff to end it.
Last Day of Sun
The mellow, spacey sounds that start this seem to have some fusion built into them, at least to my ears. It’s intricate and quite pretty. The vocals come in over the top of this in very gentle ways. Slow moving, melodic progressive rock emerges after a while to move the piece forward. Around the two minute mark the keyboards take over for a while. Eventually it works back out into another vocal section. It’s understated and slow but has moments that are more powered.
Finally Free
Coming in mellow and keyboard laden, acoustic guitar joins after a short time and moves the piece forward. As keyboards force their presence over that the piece gets a real progressive rock meets fusion energy. Some crunch guitar takes it into a more metallic prog territory from there. It drops back for the vocals and they continue from there. They keep it in the melodic prog territory until some crunch guitar enters around the three minute mark. Then it gets both crunch and melodic elements combined as they continue through a dramatic instrumental segment. It drops way down before the four and a half minute mark. Keyboards and other elements move it forward. The instrumental section that ensues is rather mysterious and magical. By the time it works out to the song proper after the six minute mark or so, it has an almost electronic vibe to it. They work back into the more mainstream prog sounds as they continue to evolve the piece. The closing section is harder rocking progressive rock that’s again a bit like Kansas to me. Sound effects segue into the next one.
Prisoner's Dilemma
Effects and theatrics bring this one into being. Keyboards bring us out of that, but it doesn’t really get into the song proper until the acoustic guitar paints the melodic backdrop. The vocals come over the top of that after a short time. The cut grows organically from there. After the two minute mark we’re taken into an electronic music interlude. From there, though, it works back out to the song proper to continue. Some crunch emerges in this mix as it continues. The piece has one of the best vocal arrangements of the whole set later. They take it through several changes. At times there are hints of world music in the middle of the dramatic progressive rock tapestry. After the four minute mark it works out to some metallic jamming. They work that through a shift or two and then turn it out towards thrash for a time. Although it remains metallic, more prog elements are added after a time. Then it crescendos and we’re brought out to acoustic guitar to continue. One line of vocals ends it, but atmospherics remain to segue into the next piece.     
Black Waters
Mellower music with non-lyrical vocals serves as the introduction. Then acoustic guitar with keyboards lacing it creates the backdrop for the song proper. The first verse comes in over the top of that and the piece begins growing from there. After that first verse it powers out to more rocking, but still melodic progressive rock. The second verse comes in over that type of background. The piece works out to an instrumental break in a more electronic meets hard rock prog texture from there. An instrumental section based on the song proper takes it for a time. Then they break into another jam that’s more based in classic progressive rock but still has a modern twist. Some retro organ solos over the top at times and the cut gets some crunch, too. The guitar solo section almost makes me think of Led Zeppelin a bit. That gives way to a return to the song proper for a closing crescendo. Mellow sounds serve as the actual end.
By the Lake (Dying)
Mellow underwater sound effects start this and acoustic guitar joins after a bit. This piece is one of the most consistent ones here. It’s a mellow, prog ballad type number. There are definitely some classical and folk elements at play. This is a sedate and pretty piece.
Oblivion for My Sin
Starting textural, some Rush-like guitar enters to move this thing forward. They work it out to another high energy progressive rock piece that’s both melodic and (at times) crunchy. There is a keyboard oriented jam mid-track that makes me think of Deep Purple a bit. It gives way to a mellow section that’s more like soundtrack music. Then some metal guitar rises up from there. The jam that ensues has an almost space rock vibe to it and some spoken sound loops are heard over the top. They include some tasty guitar soloing as the jam continues. Working through several changes, that crunch meets prog jam (at times feeling a bit like Rush) eventually takes the track to its closing.
Persistence of Vision
Coming in tentative and rather mellow, this gradually turns to atmospheric keyboards. Then a building sound brings into more of a rocking prog arrangement for the song proper. They work this through several variations in theme before dropping it way down to mellower sounds to continue. Then a new, dramatic and a bit mysterious, progressive rock section takes it forward. It gets more towards melody and mainstream prog (with some classical in the progressions) as it nears the four minute mark. Before the five minute mark it peaks and drops to a mellow piano section. Layers of non-lyrical vocals (the only vocals of the song) join to move it forward. As cool as that section is, it doesn’t stay around all that long and ends the piece.
Deus in Machina
Atmospherics open this and acoustic guitar brings it forward from there. The vocals join as the song portrays a folk prog style. The piece grows organically from there. Eventually it expands into a more mainstream rocking prog style. There is a mellow, rather odd, segment that closes it.     

 

 
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