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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Rocket Scientists

Refuel

Review by Gary Hill

I think it’s safe to say that I like everything from Rocket Scientists. This new album is no exception. This is quite a good set, but I think that their EP that came out earlier this year is stronger. That said, the song “It’s Over” is probably my favorite song ever from Rocket Scientists. It’s also one of my two or three favorite songs of 2014. The whole disc is solid, just not as solid as that. This one lands more in the AOR side of progressive rock, with comparisons to Asia pretty valid.

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Track by Track Review
Refuel

As the bass opens this, it feels like we could be heading into a metal or alternative rock song. The guitar and keyboards, though, land us fully into AOR styled progressive rock. I love some of the retro keyboard soloing on this cut. There is some fusion built into it at times, too. The non-lyrical vocals later really elevate this even more. This is fairly short, but quite a compelling instrumental track.      

She's Getting Hysterical
Coming in rather symphonic, as it powers out to a rocking arrangement this feels a lot like Asia. It drops way down for the vocals and feels a bit like The Buggles to me. This really does seem to alternate between those two musical concepts. The instrumental section features both killer keyboard work and great guitar. After a return to the vocal section, another instrumental movement takes it into a full on jazz arrangement for a time. This song is a lot of fun and yet suitably proggy.
Martial
I can make out some of that Buggles element here. This also reminds me a lot of Alan Parsons Project. It’s a powerful cut that’s both accessible and quite dramatic. This is definitely one of the highlights here. It just has so much magic built into its sound.
It's Over

In general this is a progressive rock ballad. At least it is for the first three minutes or so. Within that scope, though, there is quite a bit of variety and change. The jam later in the piece is almost metal and really rocks. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of progressive rock to keep it firmly, there, but it’s hard edged and a bit crunchy. This is arguably the best cut here. It might be my favorite song of the year (2014) really. It’s just such an amazing piece of music. It’s probably my favorite song ever from Rocket Scientists.

Regenerate
Melodic mid-tempo progressive rock is the order of business here. There are no big surprises on this instrumental, just some great music.
The Fading Light
Piano starts us out here. Then acoustic guitar joins. The mellow, stripped back progressive rock arrangement that brings us the vocals makes me think of ELP and King Crimson a bit. It works out from there in fine fashion. Then, around the one minute mark, it powers into an AOR prog jam that definitely makes me think of Asia. The cut mostly alternates between those two sections. That is, other than a cool instrumental section later. That movement has a great groove and even some hints of country music amidst the progressive rock treatment. That resolves out to a more traditional progressive rock jam from there. It’s quite powerful and lushly arranged, though, particularly as it draws closer to the end of the piece.
The World Waits for You
Mellow folk and classically tinged balladic progressive rock open this. As the vocals enter that serves as the backdrop. It gets powered up a bit after a time, but stays in the folk-laced progressive rock territory. This is a slower cut. In some ways, this almost makes me think of a progressive rock treatment of an 80s metal power ballad. Don’t get me wrong, the instrumentation is all prog. It’s just the song structure and hooks that feel like hair metal in some ways. The keyboard soloing on this is pretty magical at times.           
Reconstruct
This instrumental is roughly a minute and a half in length. It’s got a lot of classical music in it, but also quite a bit of folk. Of course, it’s all progressive rock.      
Cheshire Cat Smile (feat. Kelly Keeling)
The opening section on this feels a lot like Asia to me. The verse is mellower and dramatic. It has a bit of that 80s metal sound turned progressive rock vibe, too. The choruses definitely call to mind Asia again. The instrumental section, though, seems a little like ELP to me at times. Still, it goes into completely different directions from there, too.       
Rome's About to Fall
Although this is complex and decidedly progressive rock, there is a real groove to a lot of it. It reminds me at times of something like Spock’s Beard. It has a bit of a metallic edge at times, too. The keyboard dominated, dropped back section is cool. So is the resolution jam at the end of the piece with the non-lyrical vocals. That segment has almost a Mott the Hoople goes prog vibe to it.
Galileo
Keyboards lead this one out in style. It turns into a cool prog rock jam from there. At times it almost feels a little like Deep Purple. It shifts to a mellower, more dramatic, twisting and turning prog section for a time, though. Then it works to more fusion territory. There’s an awesome jazzy jam later with a killer fast paced bass line. This instrumental works through a number of changes and is quite entertaining start to finish. A mellow drop down, serves to almost reboot the piece. From there the whole thing is revisited.
The Lost Years (feat. Lana Lane)
This starts mellow and very balladic. The male vocals drive the first verse and chorus, feeling a bit like ELP’s sedate side. Some saxophone comes in lending both jazz and King Crimson like sounds. Then, the cut gets a bit more energy and oomph and Lana Lane’s vocals take control of the piece. It continues to grow outward like that. The saxophone comes across again, but somehow this time it makes me think of Pink Floyd quite a bit. Around the two and a half minute mark the cut shifts into a different jam that’s almost fusion like. The rhythm section drives it at first, but the piece gets more powered up from there. More Pink Floyd reference points seem appropriate at times on this section, too. The progressive rock jamming just keeps getting more and more intense as this extended instrumental section continues. There are some exceptional moments and tones in this segment. The chorus returns after a time to take the piece to its end.
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