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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Zan Zone

Start Where You Stand

Review by Gary Hill

I have previously reviewed a couple of other discs from this act. I think this one might be better than both of those. It has a lot in common from the fact that it has both male and female vocals and a sound that really stretches pretty wide and touches on progressive rock at point. It just seems more successful and mature and perhaps a little more focused.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Bad Dreams
I really love the guitar interplay on the introduction to this. It works up toward proggy zones. The cut works out from there into a classy guitar rocker that has a lot of drama. There are some more prog-like elements at play at times.
Start Where You Stand
More hard rocking, this isn't really metal, but it's not far from it. I love pretty much everything about this song, but the guitar solo is purely on fire. This is a plea for world peace.
Watchin' The World Go By
Another edgy and yet catchy hard rocking tune, this has some great hooks a lot of style. There is an unusual art music section mid-track where it drops back to percussive elements with almost Zappa-like vocals and some strange things added to the mix at times. It turns toward hip hop as that section continues. It comes back out into the rocking section after a time. After a "bye bye," it seems the song has ended. A short instrumental reprises rises up actually finish it.
I Won't Live A Lie
Here we get another hard rocking tune that has some great hooks and power. This has some interesting twists and turns and works really well. It's a killer number.
Extinction: Rebellion
The guitar work as this gets underway is crazed and so cool. The jam that ensues has an almost metal angle, but is also very King Crimson-like. This instrumental is very proggy and very cool.
Baby Cried
The lead vocals on this one are of the female variety. The cut has a bluesy rocking sound and really works well. This isn't what I'd call groundbreaking. It is, however, particularly effective and potent.
THAT
This makes good usage of both the male and female vocals. The song structure and arrangement are both inventive. The number is one of the more challenging and proggy things here. It's also dramatic. 
One Step Ahead Of The Red
A blues rock arrangement with some tasty guitar soloing makes up the introduction. This works forward with that basic concept as it gets into the vocal movement. The tune builds on that hard rock informed by the blues angle to make up the rest of it. It's quite effective.
Extinction: Romp
Another instrumental, this has more an acoustic rock arrangement. I'm reminded of Led Zeppelin to some degree. Claps are a nice addition to the rhythm section for a time. There is some particularly intricate guitar work built into this.
Survival
This is hard-edged, but also melodic and somewhat catchy at times. Given the darkness of the lyrical content, it feels ironic that this seems that accessible and almost fun. There are some Beatles-like hints at times, even.
Hot & Cold
Dark and hard-edged, this lands more along the lines of power-ballad zones in some ways. If there's a song I'd skip here, it's this one. It has some things about that don't seem to work as well to me, feeling a little awkward. That said, it's not the whole song, and there are other parts that elevate. Still, I'd consider this the weakest track here. It is inventive, though. There is some killer guitar work on the later parts of this. The song ends abruptly.
Holdin' You Tight
With female lead vocals, this has more of a mainstream pop rock sound at its core. There are hints of jazz, country and more on this. The number doesn't feel like it really fits here, but it is a strong piece of music.
 
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