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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Siena Root

The Secret of Our Time

Review by Gary Hill

This is the latest set from Siena Root. I think it might be the best of theirs I've heard. Their sound remains based on the modes of 1970s rock. They seem to be leaning more on the progressive rock end of the spectrum this time around, though. For that reason I have landed this under prog. The addition of female lead vocals since the last disc of their I heard (Lisa Lystam and Zubaida Solid) is a nice touch, too. The thing is, I like this so much that it might well make my "best of 2020" list.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Final Stand
The synthesizer sound that opens this has such a classic 70s prog sound. Bass rises up to join, followed eventually by the other instruments. The opening is dramatic and classy. It gives way to a jam that has a real Hawkwind kind of vibe. After the vocals join it drives forward in classic style for a time. Then it drops back for a mellow interlude. A riff driven classic rock sound brings it back in, and the vocals rejoin over that. It works back to the earlier vocal movement as it continues. As it approaches the four-minute mark it drops down to a spacey keyboard-based section. We're brought back into the song proper from there as it continues. That section takes the piece to its close.
Siren Song
This powers in with a guitar riff. From there we're taken into a hard-rocking jam that feels a lot like vintage Deep Purple. The vocals bring a different rocking flavor. The instrumental break on this brings plenty more of that Deep Purple thing to bear. This is not the proggiest thing here, but there is enough prog to make it work. It's a powerhouse rocker, too.
Organic Intelligence
I love the killer riff driving the opening of this number. The cut drops back to a mellower, rather blues-rock leaning jam for the entrance of the vocals. The vocal arrangement is multi-layered and very cool. This number rocks out like crazy for much of the piece. Around the two minute mark, though, it shifts to a jam that has plenty of psychedelia built into it. It's an open feeling kind of jam that calls to mind early Yes. That eventually gives way to a return of the harder rocking stuff to reclaim control.
Mender
I really love the bass on the mellow opening of this. That and keyboards make up this section. There is a killer prog turned psychedelic vibe to this introduction. As it works out from there more of that Deep Purple texture is a driving force. It drops back down to the mellower section for the entrance of the vocals. This cut really does a great job of modernizing a retro mix of prog and psychedelia. It also has a killer riff driving it. There are powered up blasts of instrumental prowess built into the tune. I really love the driving guitar solo section on this number.
In Your Head
Riff-driven, fast-paced and rocking, the sounds on this are so classic. The cut works through bluesy rocking moments, proggier ones and more. This feels so much like something that would have been at home in the 1970s. The vocals come in over the top of a mellower movement that seems to combine proggy psychedelia and blues rock. I love the organ solo on this thing.
When a Fool Wears the Crown
Drums bring this thing into being. As other instruments join it's in an up-tempo prog jam that is incredibly retro in style and texture. Deep Purple is a reference point on this one, too, but the tune is proggier than that implies. It's a real driving rocker with plenty of prog at its heart. The jam mid-track has a pure retro prog sound and concept that is just so tasty. The keyboard soloing just plain rocks, too. This is one of my favorite numbers of the whole set, really.
Daughter of the Mountains
A slower moving and mellower number, this doesn't lack drama or power, though. I love the cool guitar fills on this thing. The building psychedelia meets prog sound on this thing is so potent.
Have No Fear
A faster paced jam, the psychedelic elements are all over this thing. Yet, it also showcases plenty of prog. The keyboard textures make this in some ways, but you can't ignore the guitar or vocal performance. There is a real soaring kind of vibe to the piece. The spacey jam mid-track brings some real hints of space rock along with more pure prog.
Imaginary Borders
A fairly mellow movement brings this into being. Keyboards and a flute create the musical concept. The vocals eventually come in over the top of that backdrop. The number gradually builds upward. Around the two-minute mark it blasts out to a driving, harder rocking jam that again calls to mind Deep Purple. There is a killer guitar solo later in the piece.
 
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