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Epic Tantrum

Abandoned in the Stranger's Room

Review by Gary Hill

This double CD set is quite an interesting release. The first disc, Abandoned, is a studio album. The second, In the Stranger's Room, is a live set. I'm sure there is enough metal here that some prog purists will disagree with it landing under that heading. Clearly, though, the art-rock based concepts and many of the actual shifts and changes make this progressive rock. I have to admit that for me the music works better than the vocals. If there is a part of this project that I'm not sold on, it's the vocals. Then again, there have been plenty of acts I felt like that about at first (Rush springs to mind) and ultimately wound up being a fan of the vocals, too. So, only time will tell.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1: Abandoned
                            
Don't Bother...

Atmospherics bring the album into being. A female voice is heard. A smoking hot guitar riff brings it into being from there. The cut shifts to more of a quirky proggy sounding movement from there. The heavy guitar returns after that. Then the cut shifts to an up-tempo, almost fusion sounding prog movement with some definite metallic links. The cut keeps shifting and turning with some unusual sounds and twists. This is a complex and particularly dynamic number that just keeps evolving. It has some cool bass work and some especially satisfying guitar soloing.

Unfold
This one starts with an acoustic guitar based melody. The vocals come in over the top of that. It's very much in a folk rock or soft rock mode, but there are some intriguing counter-points in the instrumental arrangement. It powers out into more of a prog meets power ballad approach. This is much more consistent than the opener was, but still has some prog built into it.
Accessory
Coming in with a heavy mode that has a lot of metal in the mix, this works to more of a pure prog kind of thing after the first verse. There are some killer changes and instrumental progressions built into this rocking number. Parts of it lean more toward metal, while other sections have much more of a prog concept.
Fables Of Fortune
Another screaming hot tune, this also leans toward the metal end of the spectrum. I wouldn't really consider this one to be very proggy. It's more straight metal. It really rocks, though.
Outside The Wire
I dig the guitar bit that starts this number. As it shifts out for the vocals to enter, it takes on more of a fusion meets prog approach. There are some real soaring moments here. I love the powered up, but suitably proggy first instrumental movement. It takes the cut through several changes, including a killer dropped back section with melodic guitar soloing. This number is quite dynamic, working through a number of different movements. The second instrumental section brings some real fusion textures and more powered up guitar soloing. That movement eventually fades down to serve as the coda for the piece.
Into the Clutch
This instrumental is proggy, dramatic and still has a hard-rocking metallic edge to it. I love the prominent driving bass line on the number.
Letting Go
Vocals lead this out. The cut works out from there in a rather fusion-like arrangement. This is another track that is very dynamic, running through a number of shifts and changes. It has mellower, more melodic movements and harder rocking ones. At times it leans toward alternative rock. At other points it crosses near fusion territory. There is a drop backed movement for a piano and bass dominated movement. That gives way to something close to pure jazz. At nearly seven minutes long, this is the epic of the disc, and they make good use of all that space.
False Idols
This starts with a mellower mode and gradually works its way upward. The instrumental cut works out to an arrangement that has some trippy elements over the top of a rather mainstream rock format. It calls to mind space rock and even early 1970s era Pink Floyd a bit.
A Howling
There is a dark vibe to this cut. It has some heaviness at times, but leans more toward the prog end of things. It does shift toward an almost pure metal concept later along the road to take it to the end.
Abandoned
I dig the killer powered up melodic prog vibe on this. It reminds me just a little of the band Jellyfish to some degree. There are some particularly soaring movements further down the road of this thing.
Disc 2: In the Stranger's Room
                 
Baillee's Gone Again

A super-fast and tasty metallic riff opens this cut. After the introduction runs through, the cut shifts to a fast paced jam that seems to merge metal and fusion textures. There is some killer jamming on the number, and it has some great energy and grooves.

Franklin Park Blues
This screaming hot rocker feels a lot like King's X at times. It works through a number of changes, though, That brings the prog aspect. There is a bit of a weirdness factor to this, too.
Letting Go
Mixing an accessible hard rock sound with a bit of a fusion element, this is classy stuff. It's one of the stronger cuts of the whole set, and has more of that King's X element. After the four-minute mark this thing works out into a jam that has both space music and pure jazz welded together. They continue to explore from there, bringing it back toward the rock end of the spectrum gradually. It really turns out to quite a powerhouse arrangement before this extended instrumental section takes the cut to its end.
Now I Know
A rather melodic piece, this has some jazz along with prog built into it. It still manages to bring in some screaming metallic crunch at times. Yet there are some great hooks, too.
Accessory
There is a seriously crunchy and heavy metallic concept behind this song. Yet, it's twisted toward weird and still has some proggy elements at play. The instrumental section in particular reinforces that prog angle. It has some killer bass work, too. Comparisons to early Rush wouldn't be out of the question. Yet there are also elements of Led Zeppelin at play. I think I prefer this version to the studio take.
Fables Of Fortune

Speaking of Led Zeppelin, there is a lot of that band in the riff that drives this stomper. This is hard rocking, but still manages some proggy elements. It's a real powerhouse tune.

The Artist
I love the balance between the harder rocking and more melodic on this number. It's a cool tune that works very well. The guitar solo really brings a lot of that fusion element.
Don't Bother...
I definitely prefer the studio version of this on the first CD of the set. This still works well here, it just seems to lose some of the subtler aspects that helped it shine.
Drown
There is plenty of funk in the mix here. It's hard-edged and calls to mind King's X a bit. While it has a definite metal edge, it's also quite proggy.
 
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