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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Pulsar

Counter-World Experience

Review by Gary Hill

Given the name of the band, I kind of expected space rock. That’s not what we get at all here. This is a blend of jazz, heavy metal and more. It’s an intriguing and rather fierce release. It’s always entertaining, despite the fact that it doesn’t always change a lot from one song to the next.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Pulsar

Metal and fusion merge on this fast paced number. This instrumental is so classic and so intense. It’s quite technical in nature. It’s also a great way to start the set in style.

Bellatrix (feat. Christian Meyers)
Although this comes in more sedate and rather trippy, it shifts to some seriously metallic stuff from there. Yet, horns later bring a full on jazz movement. This is another intriguing mix of sounds. Even then, it’s still a killer jam.
Helios (feat. Fountainhead)
This comes in far mellower and with some non-lyrical vocals. It feels a bit like Vangelis to me. The fiery, hard rocking sounds enter after the one minute mark. Still, it’s much more of a melodic prog thing than some of the other pieces are. Sure, it has some definite crunch, but the fusion and proggy sounds dominate.
Merak
More of a melodic number with more pure fusion, this is another great cut. It’s not a huge change, but there is no sense of “we’ve heard this before,” either.
Elektra
I love the keyboard sounds on the early parts of this. When the guitar takes command later there are some particularly noteworthy melodic lines of sound. Again, this fusion cut is nothing that’s worlds different from the rest, but it’s also certainly nowhere near monolithic. There are definitely things here that make me think of Dream Theater.
Nebula
The sounds that start this are suitably spacey. Mellower jazzy textures join. This one never rises to the level of heavy metal at all. Instead, it stays reasonably sedate and melodic. It has some particularly inspired instrumental passages built into it.
Alpha Serpentis (feat. Steve Die Giorgio)
Weird, soundtrack like sounds open this. The cut works out from there into a jam that’s part Electric Wizard, part King Crimson and part Dream Theater. This is unique, unusual and especially effective. It’s one of my favorites here.
Zaurak
Coming in more melodic, this feels closer to pure fusion at the start. It’s a melodic excursion early. Around the forty second mark, though, the metallic elements power into being. Then they take it through some neo-classically inspired hard rocking fusion from there.
Europa
This is another cut that focuses more on the atmospheric elements. It’s a bit spacey in a lot of ways. Really, it’s a short tune that’s more or less a solo.
Cygnus (feat. Hannes Grossmann)
Here we’re back into metallically tinged fusion. It’s crunchy a lot of the time, but it’s also melodic. It does have a tendency to be a bit samey by this point in the album, though. Still, some of the metallic riffing and the neo-classical stuff manage to elevate this.
Sirius
This has some of the most thrash metal sections of the whole disc. Yet, it also works through melodic fusion elements.
 
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