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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

THEO

The Game of Ouroboros

Review by Gary Hill

This is progressive rock. There is a wide range of ideas within that general label, though. At times, it lands closer to old school prog. Other things are more like neo-prog. It has tendencies toward the more pop end of things and yet also gets quite complex and out there. All in all, this is a great disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Game of Ouroboros

The sound of a phone ringing starts the album. After a couple rings, there is a recording with some creepy messages. Keyboard sounds start to rise up amongst that. The music intensifies and then starts to rock out as the phone menu scenario drops away. The song proper combines funk with more traditional modern progressive rock. I can make out some King’s X here at times, but it also works towards fusion. Some of the shifts and changes are pretty unusual, but effective. There is some great guitar soloing, too. The lyrics do earn a minor parental advisory. After the five and a half minute mark it drops to a mellow, keyboard driven section. A mellower vocal movement emerges, feeling a bit like Spock’s Beard to me. Then, they fire out into smoking hot prog turned fusion as they continue.

The Blood That Floats My Throne
The menu returns at the start of this cut. This comes in with a fairly mellow prog groove. It’s like electronic music with a mellow rock vocal over the top. We’re almost three minutes in before it starts to really rock. There is some great keyboard work in the instrumental section that comes in a bit later. The instrumental section gradually intensifies before exploding out into hard rocking prog jamming. The phone menu returns near the end as the music drops back down. Weird effects take it at the actual end, segueing it into the next piece.
Creatures of Our Comfort
As this rises up from the effects that came in from the previous piece, it has a real jazzy kind of sound. This is very much a soulful fusion styled number. It has a real 1970s vibe to it. As this powers up, it has both some Spock’s Beard and some Pink Floyd in the mix. There are some bits of weirdness, but this quite mainstream in a lot of ways. There are some great melodic elements at play here. It’s deceptively complex, too.
These Are the Simple Days
The opening section here is a piano and vocal styled pop rock number. As this builds on that concept, it’s like a proggier version of Steely Dan in a lot of ways. It gets into some dreamy and soaring melodic prog as it continues. The extended instrumental section eventually drops way down on the path toward a false ending. Piano restarts it. It feels more like a modern alternative rock song as it works into the next verse. The lusher and denser prog arrangements join by the chorus. Again, Steely Dan isn’t out of the question as a reference point.
Idle Worship
This is more traditional progressive rock as it shifts this way and that along a very potent introductory section. There is some particularly noteworthy guitar soloing as it continues. I’m definitely reminded of Spock’s Beard on this song. One might also hear some Emerson Lake and Palmer and Yes as this continues. After the two minute mark, a bouncy little jam takes it. It reminds me a bit of Toto in some ways. After running through like that for a time, they shift it out into a fusion based jam for the instrumental section. It has some great melodies and moments. Some of the keyboard sounds make me think of Pink Floyd a bit. After running through in a straight line for a while, this powers out into a revisit of the opening prog section. Some killer melodies emerge over the top as this continues to shift and change. That instrumental segment is extended and eventually takes the song to its close.
Exile
The first two and a half minutes or so of this are theatrical, fairly mellow and a bit strange. It works through laying down the beginnings of its story. Then it explodes into powerful progressive rock from there. This is dark and driving stuff. Before the five minute mark it drops to just piano to continue. Another mellower progressive rock section builds out of that. Then it drops to very mellow sounds to work forward. Just after the seven minute mark it jumps out to some of the hardest rocking prog of the disc. Classy keyboard soloing emerges over the top. The instrumental section is extensive and intense and eventually takes the song (and album) to the end.
 
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