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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Paul Maged

Culture War

Review by Gary Hill

Paul Maged always delivers. It seems to me that he keeps putting out better and better music, too. This new album, a mix of singer/songwriter sounds with punk, metallic sounds and lots of classic rock, is no exception. This is an effective and potent disc without a single clunker. It has some topical tracks, too.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Culture War
A punk rocking type of number, this has a rather complex song structure. This is edgy, hard rocking and so cool. It's a killer and a great opening salvo.
Simplicity
This is a dramatic rocker. It has plenty of classic rock in the mix, yet there is still a bit of a punk edge to this number.
Lose Your Privilege
The punk returns in full control here. This has a real hardcore energy. It's a driving rocker that works really well. This cut earns a parental advisory. It's a dramatic and potent piece of music.
We Are
A much more mainstream rock sound is at the heart of this tune. It is a melodic rocker that is particularly effective.
Shine On Your Light
Intricate guitar starts this with a melodic metal approach that makes me think of the Scorpions. This turns toward meaty, reinforcing that comparison. The vocal line and song itself has more of a mainstream rock approach, though. There is a mellower dropped back movement that gives way to some screaming hot instrumental work for a guitar solo.
Cult 45
The riff that starts this cut makes me think of Iron Maiden just a little. The track launches out into a fast-paced punky rocker. As you might guess, the lyrics to this are topical. There is some killer guitar soloing built into the tune.
Jeanie Is A Rockstar
Punk and metal merge on this hard-edged, fast paced screamer. The lyrics get a bit of a parental advisory. There is a weird little bass bit at the end of the tune.
Illusions
An opening section with a spoken female voice lends something very different to the proceedings. The cut fires out from there to killer hard rocking textures. Those female vocals return on the bridge. The cut fires out from there into an almost proggy jam before settling back into the song proper. This is one of the most dynamic and intriguing cuts here. In fact, it might be my favorite of the set. The closing bit is a reprise of the opening artsy bit. The final line is ironically, "this is not an end."
The Saturday Scene
More of a singer/songwriter based number, I'd almost describe this as "Harry Chapin with a punky edge." There is definitely a folk rock element here.
When Dreams Don't Come True
The closer is more of a mainstream melodic rocker. It works well.
 
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