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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kinetic Element

The Face of Life

Review by Gary Hill

I've previously reviewed a couple discs from this act. This is their newest, and it continues their tradition of quality progressive rock set in a very traditional prog style. I think I prefer Travelog, but this is quite strong nonetheless. There are two massive epic pieces here with a couple (three if you count the bonus track) shorter ones. That said, the longest of those is over seven-minutes of music. 

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Track by Track Review
Drums bring the song into being. There are blasts of almost fusion-like music punctuated by spoken lines of lyrics as this introductory movement makes its way forward. Then it powers out into a killer fast paced instrumental jam that has hints of things like Kansas in the mix. Sung vocals join as this continues, delivered in a rather theatrical approach. They create a powerhouse prog jam as they come out of then. Then it drops way down for a mellower section that focuses heavily on some rather classical piano work. The cut fires back upward from there in a meaty hard rocking prog mode for the return of the vocals.
All Open Eyes

Multiple layers of acapella vocals start this. A short bit of prog that makes me think of early Yes punctuates the line. A pattern of vocals with short instrumental movement at the end holds it for a time. Then they pound out into a jam that's heavy and rather dark. It drives with some seriously rocking textures as they carry onward. Around the minute-and-a-half mark it shifts to a mellower movement to continue. I really like the bass work on that section, but the whole thing is cool. It climbs outward with some killer synthesizer textures from there. As thing continues marching onward there is some soaring electric guitar work that emerges. The whole thing builds to a pounding peak, and then drops away. Piano rises up to fill the emptiness left behind. It paints some intriguing pictures as it does. They eventually bring it back out into a cool, 70s styled progressive rock arrangement for the next vocals. A cool jazzy guitar jam emerges after the vocals end. That section is short, though, and the vocals rejoin afterward. They take it out into another shifting, fast paced, powerhouse prog jam as they continue. References to Yes are definitely appropriate at times along that road. I really love the guitar work that guides much of it through a number of shifts and changes. That section peaks, and then a new mellower but quite dramatic movement rises up to take control. Eventually that modulates to more of a melodic rock treatment for the return of the vocals.  Eventually the cut works its way to a hard rocking closing section to end. At nearly 16-minutes, this would be the epic of a lot of discs, here's it's the second-longest track.

Face of Life
Coming in at over 19-and-a-half minutes of music, this is the most substantial piece here in terms of length. Piano starts it, and the cut grows in mellow ways from there for a while. It rises to more rocking territory after the one-minute mark. That section holds it for a couple minutes. Then it drops away for a short piano solo. A new fast paced prog jam rises up from there, and guitar solos like crazy over the top of that. They bring it into an up-tempo prog jam for the entrance of the vocals. They take us through some differing movements as they continue. I particularly like the "come to the river" resolution movement around the seven-minute mark. The piece continues to shift and change from there, though, so don't get too comfortable. As it approaches the nine-minute mark there is a cool melodic prog mode that has some hints of jazz built into it that takes over for a while. It is a nice interlude in that it's more constant and has some tasty melodies. The piece continues sans vocals and shifts to a more exploratory, but still quite mellow approach after that movement. Then around the twelve-minute mark, it fires out into a more rocking section. The vocals come in over the top of that as they continue. After the vocals end, they take this through a number of cool changes. Then it drops way down and is reborn. They bring it into more fast paced prog again for the return of the singing. The piece just continues changing and evolving as it works onward.
Last Words
This is a bit more than four-minutes long, and is essentially keyboards with vocals for almost half of its length, feeling a bit like church music to me. It works out to more fusion-like melodic progressive rock as the other instruments join. I love some of the guitar work on this thing. It's an effective piece.
Last Words (bonus track)
A different sort of working of the previous cut, this is just about three-minutes long. It has more of a traditional mainstream prog arrangement, and despite being listed as a bonus track, I prefer it to the other version.


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