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The Reformation

Fatal Expectation

Review by Gary Hill

I like this album quite a bit. These guys are pretty amazing musicians and the range of sounds is pretty impressive. This is probably not for everyone, though. There is a bit of a DIY feel to some of the song-writing and the production that will turn some folks off to it. To me, that’s almost one of the charms here. This isn’t overly polished and some of the twists and turns feel a little awkward, but in a great way. Additionally, some of the vocals are a little rough around the edges, too. Still, that’s all part of the indie charm of this release. Surely prog purists will run screaming for the exits because there is a lot of metal in the mix. Often the vocals (Caroline Schneider) call to mind Rush to me. Mind you, that’s mostly because Geddy Lee’s voice (especially in the early days) was in a register mostly reserved for female singers. However you slice this beast, it’s creative, inventive and pretty darned cool.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fatal Expectation

This comes in rhythmically and that holds it for a time. Then some sounds that remind me a bit of early Yes are heard. That gives way to a jam that has some early Rush in the mix. The vocals reinforce the Rush reference. This is hard edged, but also quite proggy. Parts of this are metallic, but they also include some jazzy sections. The changes on this beast are pretty rapid-fire. There is even a hard rocking rap in the piece. It’s a pretty hard edged, but very proggy song.

A Grave Path
Starting much mellower, this is a more melodic tune with a lot of jazz and space music in the mix early. It’s got a great groove to it. It gets into more rocking territory later and while this doesn’t have quite the same rapid fire shifts and changes as the opener, it goes through quite a few changes. There is a keyboard dominated section later that even has some world music in it and we do get some smoking fusion later, too. There is even a blues Southern rock inspired movement. In a lot of ways the vocal arrangement on this calls to mind some late 1960s hippie music.
Fell and Forgotten
This instrumental is definitely less dynamic than anything else we’ve heard to this point. It’s very much like a combination of jazz and Hall of the Mountain Grill era Hawkwind.
Lady in Red
This comes in with some serious funk. This is very much a jazzy rocker with a real 1970s vibe to it.
Change
Folk and rock merge here. This is a rather ballad-like track that’s quite similar to a lot of folk prog. It’s one of the most effective pieces and has a cool vocal arrangement. Some of the acoustic guitar playing on this gets quite intricate.
Immortal Bliss

I love the funky bass that opens this. The cut comes in with a definite fusion groove. The mix between jazz and progressive rock here is very striking. There is a bit of a reggae vibe to some of this mid-track, too. The killer jam that follows that section is one of the most impressive musical passages of the set. This is one of the cooler pieces on the album.

Face of Stone
Super heavy, this one definitely lands close to metal a lot of the time. Although this is a pretty straight-line arrangement, there are some changes. They move it towards more pure prog at one point.There is also a metal rap section later.
Fell and Forgotten (Reprise)
As advertised, this is a return to the earlier instrumental piece.
 
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