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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Chest Rockwell

The Existentialist

Review by Gary Hill

I reviewed an earlier set from this act a couple issues ago. I liked that one a lot, and found it to be very inventive. I landed it under progressive rock because of its experimental nature and links to prog music. Had I not done that, I'd probably put this one under heavy metal. There are a few songs here that qualify as prog of the heavy variety, but this is much more of a pure metal album. I decided that since the act was landed under that heading before, and there are some prog things at play on this one, I could put it there.

So, what about the album? For me, it's not as strong a release. It's a bit too samey. Part of that could have been fixed had the more varied numbers been used a little more advantageously to split some songs that are more similar. Still, so many people these days just listen to one or two songs at a time, so that's only so important a consideration. I would say that fans of modern metal are more likely to find this album the better of the two. Don't get me wrong, I like everything here, and there is plenty of good stuff, and I do love my metal. I just think the other set, as a whole was more interesting and showed a lot more range. However you slice this, though, it's well worth checking out.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Horns of Dilemma
This fires in with a fierce heavy metal riffing. The cut grows outward from there, and vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. This is fierce and downright mean in terms of sound.
Bystander at the Switch

Another metal screamer, this earns a parental advisory. There is a real old-school thrash element to the track. It's fast-paced and so meaty. The instrumental break on this is so cool. It's built with some cool changes in the mix and really jams.

Veil of Ignorance

Very heavy and seriously screaming, this is another metal monster. It's not a big change, but works well.

Salience of the Actor

I dig the guitar exploration mid-track. It brings some cool textures and sounds to the proceedings. Beyond that this lands as a little "more of the same." Still, it's effective either way.

Acceptance of the Absurd

Now, this is interesting. Imagine merging reggae with heavy metal. You would probably have something close to the first part of this. That reggae angle eventually leaves as the cut drives onward. It picks up some of the prog tendencies I heard on the previous set. This instrumental is a real genre stretching powerhouse. It's also one of the highlights of the disc.

Locus of Control

This one comes in more fully metal-based. It works through some shifts and changes and does turn a little proggy at points. This cut stretches the sound out from the somewhat samey textures of the first few songs of the release. At the same time, it is obviously connected to that sound, too.

Transference Interference

More thrashy metal, this cut gets some intriguing angles via the vocals. It's pretty fierce, but a little too much like a lot of the rest here.

The Other's Look

The addition of keyboards on this track is a nice touch. This is a fast-paced number that brings back some of the proggy concepts that were present on the previous release. The number also brings some needed variety. I'd consider this one of the highlights of the set.

I Was The Traveler

Another on the prog end of the equation, a keyboard styled section brings this into being. The cut works outward with some real shoegaze styled music. This instrumental gets some thrashy metal in the mix, too. It's another highlight of the set and a great way to end things in style. The keyboard elements return to end it.

 
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