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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Soul Secret

4

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve reviewed these guys in the past, but I wasn’t prepared for just how good this set was going to be. In fact, it’s a contender to make my “best of 2015” list. The mix of modern sounds with classic and a lot more is extremely effective. The quickest and easiest comparison would be to Dream Theater, but that’s not the whole picture. This is a thrill ride, and there is a lot going on during the trip.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
On the Ledge

The opening jam here heads into some pretty metallic jamming. There are even some metal vocals. That gets tempered by pure prog in an interlude and other progressive rock elements over the top. That mix of sounds creates the basic concept here with some parts of this even making me think of Frank Zappa, while others lean on extreme metal. More melodic elements are heard at times, too. By the time it works to the verse section it resembles jazz in a lot of ways. There is a soulful vibe to it. The multiple layers of vocals are classy and the whole thing rocks. We get more metallic elements beyond that verse, making me think of Dream Theater just a bit. This continues with various of those sounds re-emerging. It’s one heck of a ride, really.

Our Horizon
Starting with metallic elements again, this thing really does feel a lot like Dream Theater. It’s another powerhouse ride, but not quite as diverse as the opener. It does have a great balance between more rocking and mellower territory, though. And, it does cover quite a bit of territory. They do take it through some pretty amazing changes. It just doesn’t have quite the same range of sounds and styles. It doesn’t suffer for it, though, by any means. If anything I like this song better.
K
Acoustic guitar leads off here. The opening section builds on this with some almost space rock elements at play. It powers out into harder rocking stuff later, though. The alternating between mellower and harder edged is effective and powerful. This is another piece that calls to mind Dream Theater quite a bit. It’s also another powerhouse metallic prog rocker. There is a section of this that lands full in extreme metal territory, but set within the full musical tapestry this is progressive rock. A piano based movement at the end is beautiful.
As I Close My Eyes
This is only two minutes long. It has a little bit of a man and woman telling each other “good night.” A prog ballad approach emerges from there. Although this does get more potent, it remains fairly mellow start to finish. It’s a nice respite from the crazed changes of most of the album.
Trace on the Seaside
Less than five minutes in length, this might be reasonably short, but it’s not simple. It’s full of fast paced shifts and changes. It’s packed with metal sections, prog ones and some that land near “weird music.” The thing is, it’s always tasty. I can see the comparison to Dream Theater here at times, but this gets a bit more left field at times than they usually do. There is a cool jam toward the end of the track that combines world music and jazz in some intriguing ways.
Turning the Back Page
Powering in metallic, this turns toward mellower music for the verse. Some of the sections of this are tastefully weird. The cut really rocks in dramatic ways. It’s another that makes me think of DT. I love some of the soaring vocal sections on this thing. There are some pretty amazing changes in the middle of this.
Silence
A jazzy section starts this thing. Then it works to metallic hard rocking prog. There are some awesome keyboard parts on this jam, but it also gets quite close to extreme metal at times. It has a lot of shifts, really. It’s a powerhouse prog instrumental that reminds me a bit of some of Dream Theater’s early instrumentals.
In a Frame
A little bit with a man taking pictures of a woman gives way to an acoustic guitar ballad approach for the first vocals. The harmonies add a lot to this piece when they are heard. It stays quite mellow for most of the piece. It does power up later, but even then, this is more of a melodic rocker than it is anything else. It’s also quite strong. It’s a well needed breather, too.
My Lighthouse
Although the opening jam here is metallic prog with a lot of twists and turns, it drops to mellower sounds to continue. The ballad-like movement takes it through the first vocal sections. They scream back out into high energy prog from there. The usual mix of sounds makes up the bulk of this song. That doesn’t mean it’s predictable or samey, though.
Downfall
This is another that’s a lot like something Dream Theater might do. It has some seriously soaring moments. It’s a powerhouse with a great balance between mellower and harder rocking. I love the weird jazzy jam on this thing, too.
The White Stairs

Although the mix of sounds is similar on this song, don’t take that to mean that it sounds like the rest. This is a unique cut, as they all are. It even has some fusion built into it. I love the vocal performance and the whole thing really rocks like crazy. There are some pretty bizarre, but effective shifts and turns later, too. It even turns toward Spanish music before moving into freeform jamming around the five and a half minute mark. By around the eight and a half minute mark it drops to some fairly mellow stuff. Then a guitar solo emerges for a time. They launch out into more hard edged, Dream Theater like stomping from there. By around the eleven minute mark, a building, rather balladic movement has taken it. It drops from there to just piano and voice. Eventually it grows back out into some more DT like powerhouse jamming. The thing just keeps shifting and evolving, though. Around the fifteen minute mark, it drops to a mellow keyboard based section for some spoken dialog. Acoustic guitar joins, but it stays mellow. Only piano remains as the epic ends past the 16 and a half minute mark.

 
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