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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


The Illusionist

Review by Gary Hill

I am sure there are those who will argue that this should go under heavy metal. Honestly, based on some of the music here, I agree. Overall, though, this is much more progressive than that, with some parts of the set landing fully in the prog zone. If you have a problem with extreme metal being incorporated in prog, though, you will probably want to steer clear. The truth is, this is one of the most inventive and unique sounds I've heard from a band lately. While there are comparisons to be made at different points, no one I know of sounds quite like this band's full picture.

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Track by Track Review
A dramatic, metallic energy brings this into being. A spoken vocal comes in over the top as keyboards wash over and drums pound out. Then it drops to piano in a weird, almost creepy arrangement. That spooky angle is intensified as more keys join. Then the rhythm section brings a proggy concept. After a couple measure crunch guitar comes over the top. It shifts after a time for some screaming hot guitar work, and a Dream Theater like movement takes over from there. After that works through a number of variants, they drop it to some symphonic sounding keyboards to continue. The metallic prog jamming returns to take the song through. Other than those spoken vocals early, this is an instrumental.
The Illusionist
They bring this in with a balladic approach that serves as the backdrop for the first vocals. The cut does get an infusion of metallic jamming beyond that first vocal movement and some killer guitar soloing. It drops down to an intensified version of that ballad section for the next vocals. This turns into more decidedly metal zones further down the road. There are even some death metal vocals. It drops to a jazzy, piano led movement around mid-track. There is an extreme metal instrumental break, but it gives way to a return of the jazzy thing. Vocals come in over the top of that as it continues, bringing a bluesy angle to bear. Another extreme metal section ensues, but then we get a horn solo in a full jazz treatment. This thing eventually gets back into more driving metal zones as it works toward its closing. That ends it with some cool riffing.
Thrash metal is the concept as this gets going. This is fierce and screaming hot. It has an epic metal vocal vibe, but the rest of the cut is very much in a thrash metal style. This has a screaming hot guitar solo, too. If the majority of the album was like this, I'd land it under metal.
Worship The Sun
A world music styled sound brings this into being. It turns metallic, but still manages to retain that flavor. There is some klesmer music built into this as it drives onward. The vocals come in bringing something between metallic prog and epic metal. Fates Warning and Dream Theater are valid references on this. They do such a great job of merging the world music, proggy and metal concepts on this thing. The bass really shines at times, too.
Turn Off The World
This starts with an inventive metallic arrangement. It drops to mellower zones for the entrance of the vocals. This works through in a fairly mainstream way until around the halfway mark when it turns extreme, complete with death metal growling. More melodic stuff comes in from there. While this is another song that leans more heavily on the metal end of things, it does have some proggy things at times.
Coming in much mellower and more trippy, this has a lot of world music, prog, space rock and even some psychedelia built into it. It's a big change and really cool. Around the two-minute mark there is a shift to a section that makes me think of both modern King Crimson and Dream Theater. The cut works back to the earlier section, but it seems more intense when it does. We get more of that Crimsonian stuff further down the road. As it continues evolving we get a shift to a rather jazz-prog like movement. That said, it still has some other things going for it. This is a really unusual sounding piece, and it works through some great evolution. This is definitely progressive in several senses of the word.
Juggling Chainsaws
Fierce thrash metal sounds bring this into being. This really does give the impression of "juggling chainsaws" in the early parts of the song. I has some neo-classical leanings at times. There are some really frantic proggy movements at different points here. This thing shifts and changes so quickly at times that it's hard to keep track of it. There are some death metal moments, too. This is the very definition of metal-meets-prog. It's also intense and crazy. This thing covers pretty much everything. Sometimes seemingly disparate elements are put together. At other points they alternate. This thing is a seriously epic piece in scope, despite the fact that it's less than eight minutes long.
For My Next Trick
A spoken section gets this going. It works out to some dreamy, trippy prog music from there. The voice continues for a time. Then it all drops to a mellower, intricate arrangement that has some world music elements in it at first. This remains largely mellow and decidedly proggy for the bulk of its running time. Yet there are jazzy moments, classically based ones and more. The bass is quite pronounced and plays some great lines at points. It does power up a little at the end, but still remains in the melodic prog zone when it does. Other than that spoken voice, this is an instrumental.
Now You See Me...
Intricate guitar starts this and holds it for about 40 seconds. Then a non-metallic guitar chording takes control. This one evolves in decidedly proggy ways and non-lyrical vocals come over the top. This gets into more of a mainstream rock mode for the entrance of the vocals, but there are still some proggy elements that are heard in some of the chordings. That really has some intriguing moments, including some jazzy elements at times. It's decidedly progressive rock based. This does shift toward the metallic, but still has plenty of symphonic prog built into it musically after the half-way mark. That said, there are death metal vocals on that section. A frantic section comes in and then fades down, giving way to a piano melody that ends the album.
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