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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Xanima

Prototype: Homo Sapiens

Review by Gary Hill

The sound of this act is unique. They land somewhere in the space between European epic metal and progressive rock. It’s definitely further on the prog side, though and there are some definite electronic elements at play. The real driving factor, though is the vocals. Jade Ell’s voice is pretty amazing. She can rock out with the best of them, but get more artistic, too. At times she makes me think of Dale Bozzio. Many times, though, she seems closer to Kate Bush. A lot of the rest of the time she is rocking out with the best female singers from modern epic metal. She really sells this thing.

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
Mantra

There is a real modern electronic vibe as this opens. As the vocals join the cut gets more of a hard edged modern progressive rock vibe. I like the rock and roll texture of Jade Ell’s voice. There is a heaviness to the music, leaning toward heavy metal without actually landing there. It drops back to more of that opening modern electronic sound mid-track. Then it fires back out into the song proper and it seems even more powerful. There are a lot of symphonic sounds in the mix.

Prototype: Homo Sapiens
Although this has a modern texture, it’s very much an epic, symphonic progressive rock piece in the vein of a lot of classic prog. This is powerful.  It has short drop backs to mellower moments. It also has some great rocking segments.
Parallel Universe
This is even more mainstream. It almost feels like something Missing Persons might have done in some ways. Yet, it’s got more pure progressive rock and even some hints of epic metal built into it. I love the vocal arrangement, but the music is right up there with it.
Death by Remote Control
A harder rocking one, this lands closer to epic metal. Still, there is enough progressive rock in this to keep it from really getting lumped in as metal. It’s not one of my favorites here, though. It’s just not at the same level as some of the other stuff.
Make Gravity Rule Sanity
The main musical concept isn’t drastically altered here, but this is still different from the rest of the music. It’s got some memorable hooks and still lands well in the progressive rock vein. It’s a meaty number that’s quite strong.
Ritual Dance
There are some sections of musical theater in the middle of this thing. It also has some modern electronic sound. The pounding rhythm section, though, really drives this thing and brings some metal to the picture. This is a killer hard rocking progressive tune. It’s got some great hooks and the guitar work is noteworthy. The symphonically tinged arrangement is stellar, too.
Ruins of Babel
Starting in a rather sparse arrangement, this builds out gradually. It eventually powers out into some soaring symphonic progressive rock. They drop it back to electronic music with theatrical soundbites in the mix and then bring it back out to a more stripped back arrangement to continue. When the song gets more powerful music in the arrangement it really pushes forward.
Origin
Another hard rocking prog tune, the picture isn’t altered all that much here. Still, it never feels redundant or tired. I really like the vocal arrangement on this a lot.
Eternal Truth
Although it aligns in the territory of epic metal, this is more in the melodic prog end of that spectrum. It’s a bit more catchy than some of the other music here and just plain rocks.
A Given Oath
I like this rocker a lot. It has a real soaring element to it. It’s part metal and part prog. It’s all cool.
Sacred Sacrifice
There are a lot more changes and twists in this one. It’s got a great contrast between harder rocking and mellower moments. Yet, it’s also got a catchy vocal line a lot of the time.   
Tales of Sin and Virtue
More mainstream progressive rock emerges here as a driving factor. There are several changes and varied movements, though. It does get into harder rocking territory at times. This is one of the more effective pieces here.       
Confession Chase
There is a lot of metal in the mix on this thing. Yet the arrangement and song construction land it overall in the progressive rock heading. It’s one of the more unusual songs with some cool electronics serving as counterpoint to the hard riffing sound.
 
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