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Chest Rockwell

Ghost of a Man Still Alive

Review by Gary Hill

I am sure a lot of people will argue with this being put under the progressive rock heading. If you are looking for old-school 70s prog, you'll be disappointed. Progressive rock has really grown into other zones and reference points over the last couple decades, and I'd say that this definitely qualifies. I really dig the mix of sounds here. There are definite links to heavy metal, metallic prog like Dream Theater, things like Rush, techno and alternative rock. That's just a few of the highlights of the range of sounds, though. The thing is, this is creative and entertaining. It's quite a ride, really.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
As You Like
Drums start the album. A rocking guitar sound rises up to move it forward. This drifts into hard rocking zones that have some real industrial edges, but there is a proggy sense to the timing and changes. The vocals bring a more arena rock turned alternative vibe. There is a definitely epic metal edge to this, but the artsy concept and general construction make it prog. I love some of the keyboard sounds and some of the thrashy guitar really rocks. The driving movement further down the road is full on heavy prog, leaning toward something like Dream Theater in some ways.
Present
This is a short interlude made up by spacey keyboard and other textures.
Metamorph
Driving metallic rock brings this thing in with a lot of power and drive. The vocals bring a combination of metal and modern prog sounds to the table. The cut is packed full of metallic ferocity tempered with driving progressive rock edges. This thing is a real powerhouse with a lot of cool changes and variants.
Proteus
Screaming hot and metallic, there is a lot of thrash as this opens. It works to something more closely tied to techno and alternative rock. Some furious jamming later really brings the heavy progressive rock to the fore. This thing goes through so many shifts and changes.
Future
More trippy keyboards create the concept of this short interlude.
Archaeologist
Fierce guitar starts things off here. This is another powerhouse screamer. Again, a lot of changes occur along this musical road. There are some killer keyboard textures in the mix, and a drop back to keys and vocals is classy. Yet, there are also thrashy and techno inspired moments bringing different angles to it. I particularly like the section later that features killer, almost swirling guitar riffs topped with layers of keyboards.
Paradox
This killer jam definitely makes me think of Rush in some ways. It has some smoking hot guitar work, classy keyboards, a driving tempo and some cool changes. It gets into some thrashy zones for a while later. This instrumental is cool.
Watch How I Fall Over
There is a lot more alternative rock built into this. It has some shoegaze tendencies, but also some hints of nu-metal. This has some hints of grunge built into it, too.
Past
Another short, keyboard-based instrumental interlude, this has some cool textures.
El Anacronópete
With an up-tempo and driving arrangement at the core, I love the layers of classy keyboards that permeate the opening. The track shifts toward more metallic zones, but those keys remain. There are more changes along this road as the cut continues deftly combining different styles into something that fits with the rest of the music here.
Farewell, Voyager
This opens with something that is more along the lines of hard rock like Nazareth. Yet there is still an echoey trippiness to it. There is a bit of an 80s vibe to this at times later. I'd say it has some hints of things like The Cure. I love the keyboard layers on this and the way the vocals seem to be reaching ever further toward the stars. The whole piece has a real feeling of reaching into space.
Eternal Return
This is another trippy keyboard instrumental that is a short connecting piece.
Cradle
There is a real exotic feeling to this keyboard based instrumental. It seems to musically speak of vistas of the Egyptian desert. While this is sans vocals, it's not one of the short connecting pieces. In fact, at eight-minutes long, it's the epic of the set. It drives into harder rocking music that's more along the lines of epic metal. It almost feels like something that would have been at home on Rainbow's Long Live Rock and Roll album. I suppose the Egyptian styled musical motifs make me think of "Gates of Babylon" from that disc. This piece definitely ends things with style.
 
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