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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

American Tears

White Flags

Review by Gary Hill

This band is actually just one guy, Mark Mangold, The music here is dominated by keyboards, but at times it sounds more like a rock band than just keyboard based. In fairness, Mangold does play drums and bass and also sing here, in addition to playing keyboards. The arrangements tend to not feel quite all keyboards, though. That's really a tribute to his talent. I've landed this under progressive rock, as everything here fits mostly under that heading, but on the AOR side of the equation. Whatever you call this, though, it's a unique and potent set.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Turn U On
Synthesizer opens this with a lot of style and class. The cut works out to a bit of a driving groove from there. This gets pretty rocking as it goes along, but the electronic proggy element really drives it.
Wake up City
Much more of a rocker, this still has some AOR prog elements at play. The keys drive so much of it, too. The vocal arrangement is contagious, though. There are hints of Deep Purple in this, largely because of the keyboard sounds. That reference is even more valid later when the track shifts gear a bit. It also wanders into more purely prog zones beyond that point, too. It eventually makes its way back to the song proper, and a slowing down section takes over near the end. This is an extended piece and a dynamic one.
Hell or High Water
I like the Deep Purple-esque keyboard sounds that lead this track out. The cut starts rocking from there. There is some killer jamming on display here. This tune works so well. It has plenty of that DP like hard rock along with killer keyboard textures. The vocal performance is very strong, too.
Waltz of the Angels
Again the keyboards really shine here. This is a more decidedly progressive rock based thing. Just about everything here has an AOR prog vibe, but this song takes it more into the zone of pure progressive rock.
Fire Down Below
At more than nine-minutes of music, this is the epic of the set. It comes in with a dramatic buildup that has some trippy psychedelia built into it. There is some killer music in the mix here. A dropped back movement with some spoken vocals makes me think a bit of a modernized version of The Doors.
Give Me More
Dramatic piano brings this into being. The cut works out as a balladic piece from there. It's evocative and powerful as more of a power ballad. This gets more powered up as it continues, but remains less rocker than some of the others. It has some great hooks and classy sounds, though.
Love Is Love
I love the keyboard groove on this killer tune. It has a great groove to it. The keyboards are really the biggest shining point here, but the vocals carry their own weight, too. This has a rocking energy and groove.
Turn the Page (Blue Dog)
This one is very rocking in style and sound. It has some killer keyboard sounds and a potent vocal arrangement. It's more of the AOR variety. The powered up jam late in the track, with its driving keys, is so cool.
Pitch Black
That Deep Purple thing is back on this number. The cut has some killer keyboard sounds and real rocking groove.
Keep on Movin'
With a lot of energy and groove, this thing really drives in some cool AOR zones. This works its way into some of the most purely proggy stuff of the set as it continues. There is some killer keyboard work driving this thing.
White Flags
The closing title track starts on piano. It grows out into another potent piece of music.
 
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