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Progressive Rock CD Reviews



Review by Gary Hill

At first glance, Relayer resembles Close To The Edge in that it is composed of three cuts, one in the twenty-minute range, and the other two taking up about the same length of time between them. However, while there are some strong moments here, this is arguably Yes at their most self-indulgent and least cohesive. Much of the disc resembles experimental jamming more than creatively constructed compositions. It is definitely a disc worth having, but truly there are other albums in the catalog that would be higher up the list for necessity.

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Track by Track Review
The Gates of Delirium
A fairly melodic arrangement, based firmly on Howe's guitar work begins this. Eventually, this gives way to the first melodic segment of the song. Still, Howe is ripping all over this. The cut carries through this segment until a new movement feeling rather peaceful takes it for a time. It then returns to the previous stylings. The cut is quite frantic and high energy here. An instrumental interlude takes it, moving the melody line forward. A mellower chorus enters, then is reborn with a higher energy level before an all new jam based on familiar themes takes over. This evolves into quite a hard-edged element. Then the real chaos takes over, the band becoming a rather noisy rock and roll symphony. Then it explodes in frantic prog jamming that simulates the chaotic furor of war very well. This gets very raucous at times, and one can really picture the violent clash of two armies reflected in this musical segment. This makes several left turns as it carries on, bordering on noise at times. One can hear the crashing of metal against metal and guitar screams. Howe puts in some of his crunchiest work ever here and noisy keyboard textures overlay. This whole segment is truly chaotic. It crescendos, then more musical elements take over. This winds its way through, then drops to ambience. From that backdrop a new melody, gentle and rather pretty, takes over. This represents the next vocal segment, and it quite poignant, the peace after the horrors of war. The lyrics portray a vision of hope amongst the madness. Howe works some stunningly beautiful slide guitar over top of the melody here. This works through to a satisfying resolution.
Sound Chaser
A frantic off kilter jam begins this fast paced rocker. The band carry it through several hard rocking, frantic changes, but the cut is just a bit too busy at times. This is one of the least cohesive compositions the band have ever done, seeming at times to wander a bit too much. Steve Howe gets quite a few opportunities to solo on this one. In fact, he is pretty much the star of the piece, his guitar running the gamut of sounds from classical to hard rocking, even taking on a surf sound at times. It eventually works through this extended guitar solo, dropping to atmospheric and mellow texture that brings with it a mellow verse. Then the band bursts into another fast paced jam, jazzy at first, then more hard rock oriented. The pace keeps accelerating as it carries on. Then it drops to a steadier tempo, which gives way to a weird acapella break, and then Moraz rushes in with a cool keyboard solo. Another burst of near acapella chanting takes the band to a fast paced outro that to me feels a bit like cartoon music. This one is not bad, but definitely a bit overindulgent at times.
To Be Over
This is a mellow balladic number. It doesn't change around too much, but the consistency is a welcome relief from that chaos that makes up the vast majority of the album.
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