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Staring into Nothing

Power

Review by Gary Hill

This new album is a concept work. The story-line talks about a dystopian view of the modern world. It's clearly timely. The music here is prog rock that has ties to both the classic era of prog and the modern. There are heavy metal elements here at times. There are even things that make me think of Alice Cooper. Whatever you call it, though, this thing is a killer disc. It might make my "best of 2017" list. There are male lead vocals at times and female at others. I have to say that I prefer the female vocals, but both work well enough to sell it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Puritans

Opening with keyboards, this works out gradually from there. It has a bit of Beatles meets Alice Cooper ballad sound to it as the vocals join. The cut grows out from there getting into more rocking territory. There are hints of The Buggles here. The cut has a lot of glam rock in the mix, too. It's very much an AOR prog piece. After the one minute mark it shifts to a new prog jam that even makes me think of ELP a bit. The guitar that comes over the top has some killer rock and roll sound to it. That harder edged movement takes the cut to its close.

School Daze
There are hints of the modern alternative rock based type of prog rock in this number. It also has some slight nods to 50s rock and roll. Overall, though, this is another cool AOR prog piece. This gets a bit of a parental advisory.
Obey

A mellower number, this makes me think of Pink Floyd in a lot of ways. Still, it has more of that modern prog sound to it. While this is more sedate, the arrangement is dense and lush.

The Program

With quite a bit of that Pink Floyd element, this is also closely tied to things like Porcupine Tree. It's a killer prog piece that is among the strongest musical journeys here.

Heads or Tails

I love the energy and fire on this piece. It's fast paced and classy. It gets incredibly intense and powerful in the closing movement. That part lands toward progressive metal.

Information Crime

While parts of this land closer to the kind of prog we've heard throughout a lot of the set, there is a section that enters around three minute mark that is full heavy metal. It's a powerhouse stomper. There are enough changes and twists to keep it in the prog category, though. Around the four minute mark it shifts to more pure progressive rock, too. The killer jam that ensues makes me think of Dream Theater a bit. The metallic stuff returns after that movement to drive the next vocal section. Beyond that it drops way down to considerably mellower stuff for more vocals. Melodic prog rises up after that sedate section and eventually shifts to an instrumental section that takes the piece to its close after the nine and a half minute mark.

Towers (Ecstasy/Agony)

At over 18 minutes of music, this is an epic piece for certain. Rather creepy atmospherics open it and hold it for quite a while. Some elements join (a sporadic soloing, echoey guitar, for instance) but don't really take control. Around the three and a half minute an acoustic guitar motif takes control and we're brought into the first "song-like" territory of this track. The vocals come over that section to move it forward. Melodic prog becomes the order of business here with varying sections and themes taking control, working through and then getting replaced or altered in favor of other sections. After the eight minute mark it drops for a false ending. Piano rises up to take control. Guitar comes over the top of that as it moves onward. Trippy elements take control for a time. A sedate, but rather odd (in a tasteful way) serves as the backdrop for the next vocals. It grows outward in some intriguing ways. By around the 17 minute mark it has evolved into a powerhouse hard edged prog rocker that makes me think of Magenta to a large degree. That section eventually takes it to its close.

Big Brother

Coming in with a piano driven arrangement, this works forward from there. Melodic prog rock is the order of business as it continues onward. This thing really becomes quite a powerhouse number. It's dynamic and compelling.

Freedom

Another killer prog rocker, this has some many cool sections. I love the harder rocking, nearly metal jam. I also am a big fan of the bass solo movement. The whole thing just works so well, though.

Gates of Hell

This piece (like several of the others) combines an almost metallic edge to some of the parts with a fast paced melodic progressive rock. It's a screamer that's among the best of the set. The rhythm section led movement makes me think of Alice Cooper a bit. The incendiary guitar soloing on the outro is so cool.

 
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