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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Heliopolis

City of the Sun

Review by Gary Hill

I love this album. It’s got quite a wide range of sounds. The opening section is rather metallic. It’s one of the most dramatic and heavy progressive rock introductions I’ve heard in a long time. Yet, the bulk of the disc lands in the melodic prog vein. This at times makes me think of certain acts, but overall has a sound of its own. It’s all great stuff.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
New Frontier

The section that opens this is quirky and very heavy. It has a lot in common with modern King Crimson, but it’s almost metal at the same time. Still, it’s symphonic. Whatever you call it, though, it’s powerful. They build that out, working through some variants for the first minute and a half or so. Then it gives way to more traditional, melodic progressive rock from there. Some shifts occur within that. As the vocals join it has a definite Yes-like texture. The cut continues to shift and grow as it works forward. There are some powerhouse melodic progressive rock movements built into this. An instrumental section around the four and a half minute mark really makes me think of Yes a lot. The piece keeps evolving from there, though. It has a very positive lyrical message and the music seems to reinforce this. In addition to Yes, I could see Starcastle as a definite musical reference point at times on this piece. There are some killer jams that ensue as this continues. At times it brings back some of the metallic elements of the opening movement.

Take a Moment
As good as the opener was, this is worlds above and beyond it. The musical references are not nearly so direct. The song shifts and changes through ongoing evolution. The transitions are smooth and seamless. The cut works between powerful and dramatic progressive rock and jazzy jamming with ease. This is just such an incredible piece of music. It’s worth the price of admission all by itself. I love it.
Mr. Wishbone
Somewhat off-kilter and almost RIO in tone and function, this makes me think of Pentwater at times. It’s very creative and experimental. This instrumental is rather crazed and bombastic. It’s also unusual and very effective. It’s the shortest piece on the disc, but still stays around for about three and a half minutes.
Elegy
This one is just over six minutes in length. It’s a melodic progressive rock tune. The keyboard solo mid-track is particularly noteworthy.
Love and Inspiration
At over fourteen minutes in length, this is the epic of the set. It starts rather tentatively, working through several sections as it builds upward. Some wonderful melodic progressive rock ensues as this works through wordlessly. Around the four minute mark it drops to a mellower section for the first vocals. Around the five and a half minute mark it explodes out into a fast paced, energized jam that’s pretty awesome. It makes it back to the song proper and several vocal sections are heard. Then around the nine minute there’s another killer instrumental section. This one features a driving bass line over which keyboards solo. There’s a bit of a drum break as that works out. From there we’re taken back into the song proper. It continues to evolve via the vocal driven sections until they take it to the close. It’s a satisfying end to a very satisfying disc.     
 
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