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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Degree Absolute

Degree Absolute

Review by Greg Olma

I am amazed by the sheer number of great bands that still come out with quality CDs. Sure, there is a lot of trash coming out, but mixed in there is a lot of quality music. Some of them, like Degree Absolute, are not that original but what new band is? Most of what is coming out has been done before; it is just a matter of how you put those pieces together. Degree Absolute has been able to create a sound that consists of the best parts of thrash, prog, and metal rolled into one (sometimes in one song). Although you could easily compare them to Dream Theater, they do differentiate themselves by adding some thrash in for good measure. Like any recipe, you need to add the correct mixture of ingredients. Degree Absolute have been able to do just that.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Heavy riffing with double bass drums kicks off this track. It is almost Metallica like until they slip into Dream Theater mode crossed with some thrash. This cut has multiple parts that add to the overall prog-ness of the tune. There are even Yes elements add in for good measure. Just when you think that this is just multiple random parts connected to make a song, they bring it back to where it started wrapping things up.
Laughing Alone
This is another Dream Theater type piece that reminds me of “Pull Me Under.” One of the great things about these guys is they do not sacrifice the melody for the prog parts. Many progressive bands of the past were technical but they also knew how to keep melody in there. This is a good example of a modern prog band having the same sort of melodic sensibility. There is also a nice little prog workout in the middle of this tune.
Of all the songs on this album, this is probably the most straightforward metal song. It is good but compared to the two previous cuts, this one seems ordinary.
Aaron Bell puts in a nice vocal performance on this Middle Eastern tinged track. Keyboards start off this piece that moves into a power ballad-ish vein. There is also a nice guitar solo courtesy of Mr. Bell.
Bongos start off this instrumental. It is similar to the previous cut but has some Eric Johnson style guitar playing in it. It is a good track but I prefer their songs with vocals.
Half Man Half Biscuit
This is mainly a keyboard instrumental with some really cool guitar playing thrown over it. It is just the right length being just over 3 minutes. The track moves along without being boring or overstaying its welcome.
The main riffing is very prog metal but there are some heavy Yes influences on it. It is another instrumental but is the best one of the three. My only complaint would be that they could have split up these last three instrumentals throughout the CD.
Ask Nothing Of Me
We finally get some vocals on this mid paced rocker. At about the 2 ½ minute mark, Aaron Bell throws in some very Alex Lifeson-like guitar playing. There is a bit of Yngwie-styled playing also. This is definitely one of the better cuts on this album.
Ergo Sun
There is a keyboard droning sound for about the first 2 minutes. This track is 11 minutes and it takes a bit of time before it gets going. The first half of the song does not contain vocals but once those do kick in this moves along nicely. There are some parts of the guitar playing that remind me of early Scorpions. Although this could have been shorter, it is a really good song and a great way to finish off the CD.
Hidden Track
This is mainly soundtrack music and really does not fit the rest of the album. I have to wonder why this was even added. My recommendation is to start the CD over after “Ergo Sum”.
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