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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Mighty Bard

Beyond the Gate

Review by Gary Hill

This is an intriguing set that feels like it could be some kind of concept album. It's a progressive rock set with a lot of emotional and intensity variety. The music is often amazing. If there's one complaint for me, it's the vocals. It's not that there are bad. In fact, they are far from it. It's just that there is a certain common element to the singing throughout that just seems to overstay its welcome for me. For that reason, I think this would probably work better a couple pieces at a time than as a whole album. Still, your mileage may vary.

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Track by Track Review
Beyond The Gate
The sounds of nature get things underway here. Piano comes in after a time, and vocals join in that mix. It works forward as sort of a powered up ballad. There is some cool electric guitar that comes in over the top at one point. The vocal arrangement is complex and particularly effective. This is a potent opener.
Percussion leads things off here. They bring in other instruments to create an intriguing arrangement that has some proggy elements and a sense of mystery. I really love the bass sound on parts of this introduction. It drops to another piano-led arrangement for the entrance of the vocals. There is an intriguing contrast between mellower and more rocking movements on this. The track is quite a potent and dynamic one. I really love some of the powered up, almost soaring portions.
Guarded Secret
Keyboards get things underway here. It eventually works out to another killer prog rocker. There are some particularly tasty guitar lines. It's also packed full of strong twists and turns. At over 14-minutes long, this is the epic of the disc. I really love the synthesizer solo on this thing. This is really epic in scope in addition to size. It's a powerful piece of music that's among the best here.
This song has a cool groove to it. For some reason, at times it makes me think of a proggier version of Jellyfish. There are definitely hints of psychedelia and pop rock built into this. It works through quite a few changes. It's another winner.
Compound The Problem
The guitar part that gets this underway has an almost funky mainstream rock vibe. This has some of that Jellyfish thing at play as it builds out, but also some hints of Pink Floyd. There is some powerhouse guitar soloing later on this track that's really expressive.
Secret Garden

Intricate guitar is the backdrop for the first vocals on this track. The number grows from there with style into more of a classic rock based cut. It still has some proggy elements at play. At over 12-and-a-half minutes of music, this is the second longest piece here. This has some intriguing elements at play. The keyboard solo section later is classy, and this does have plenty of changes built into it. The jam that gets underway around the halfway mark has plenty of folk-prog leanings. It's also dramatic and powerful. This is quite a potent song.

Last Orders
Ambient sounds, perhaps like in a restaurant begin this. Classical piano takes control from there. This works out to more of a full prog treatment after a keyboard dominated vocal movement that takes up a good portion of the track. That more rocking section takes the song around the three-quarters mark. Then piano, this time not as classical-music-based, comes in as a solo instrument. 
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