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The Reasoning

Awakening

Review by Gary Hill

This band was formed by Matthew Cohen when he left Magenta. I can’t attest to what Magenta sounded like when Cohen was in the band (the first album of theirs I heard was their new masterpiece) but I can tell you that this CD is more straightforward than that album by his former band. The songs here are all reasonably short and there is a definite crunch to a lot of this. This is a very good disc that should please fans of neo-prog quite a bit. I wouldn’t call it “a masterpiece” by any means, but it’s definitely worth picking up.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Awakening
Keyboards lead this off in a dramatic way, although, I have to admit that at first this intro reminds me of Aldo Nova or early Bon Jovi. Once the other instruments begin to make their presence known all of that thought is gone. This comes in more like a harder edged progressive rock ala Dream Theater.  They shift it to a more melodic classic prog sound when the vocals enter. Musically I can kind of hear Drama era Yes on much of the track from that point forward, but the vocals are more in line with neo-prog outfits. This gets very powerful later on, partly due to a pumped up instrumental texture, partly due to some great vocal harmonies in multiple layers.
Chasing Rainbows
This starts off a lot mellower. It has an almost bluesy feel to it. Keyboards bring in more progressive rock leanings, but the guitar sounds are very much in a blues manner. We get a spoken female vocal over the top of this as they continue on. This section reminds me a bit of Fish era Marillion. They power out into harder edged, crunchy prog rock from there. The guitar solo later in this track reminds me of the Cure at first for some reason. This song is much more in a metallic vein than it is progressive rock. That said, there is still enough prog to keep it interesting.  It drops back to a keyboard dominated segment later. The guitar solo after that seems more like Red Ryder and Pink Floyd to me.
Playing the Game
In a lot of ways this reminds me a bit of newer prog like Echolyn and others. Still, there are some moments that lean back further to the first incarnation of progressive rock. I particularly like the keyboard dominated segment later and the Pink Floyd like guitar oriented section that follows it. The guitar solo there is really very much in keeping with David Gilmour’s work.
Aching Hunger
They start this with mellow keyboard sounds. Then we get a bit of that Pink Floyd type guitar work. It pounds out from there in a very original sounding motif that’s powerful and majestic. They make great use of the vocals on this, particularly with the alteration between male and female voices. This is an incredible piece of music that is definitely a highlight of the CD. There’s a cool keyboard solo later on this one. They drop it way down for a stripped down chorus to end it.

Sacred Shape
This starts much more tentatively with a little vocal oriented section giving way to a guitar based balladic motif. They take this through a number of changes and alterations. It becomes quite powerful at times and then drops down from there after a while. They turn a corner into a cool section built around an angular riff later. This segment again calls to mind modern neo-prog quite a bit.
Fallen Angels
Keys begin this, but they quickly transform the track into a riff driven jam. This is a cool one and the vocal arrangement really makes it. This becomes quite a potent neo-prog jam and they build in a few intriguing instrumental section. One part of this has some guitar that reminds me of Trevor Rabin’s playing during Yes’ Talk era.
Shadows of the Mind
A rather fusion like jam brings us in. They make some alterations, but come back to this opening motif. The first vocals come in over a stripped down approach. They take us through a series of changes and we get some tasty female vocals followed by a nice instrumental segment. It drops back after that to a piano solo segment and then they come in with a dramatic balladic approach over keyboards. They bring it back up and take us on a wonderful adventure from there.
Within Cold Glass
They bring this one in with neo-classical stylings and instrumentation. Eventually this moves into a keyboard oriented ballad approach and female vocals are draped over this. They turn the power up after the first verse and we get some soaring guitar soloing. We are brought back into the vocal section, but it’s powered up a bit this time around. This segment takes the track (and the album) to its end.

 
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