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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Djam Karet

Burning the Hard City

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of guitar dominated instrumental prog rejoice. Burning the Hard City by Djam Karet has been reissued. This band pulls off progressive rock changes and metallic power all the while blending it with very listenable grooves. The result is prog that is melodic, adventurous and entertaining. The band seems to capture good solid rock and roll textures within the context of instrumental prog better than just about anyone else. If you like the later incarnations of King Crimson, you will most likely eat this album up. The lineup on this release is Gayle Ellett, Mike Henderson, Chuck Oken Jr. and Henry J. Osbourne.

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Track by Track Review
At The Mountains of Madness
This one begins rather bluesy, and after a minute plus of that approach, a jazzy bass riff enters heralding a change into more progish instrumental tones ala Frank Zappa and King Crimson. After a while in this mode, the composition redefines again, moving in a fast paced, fusion-oriented style. This segment has a lot of character. It moves once again, into the "weirdness" zone before reaching its conclusion.
Providence 19 - The Visage of War
Whooshing Hawkwindish keyboards start this cut, and the whole early section seems like Hawkwind's most spaced out music given a healthy dose of steroids. It includes a weirdly processed, spoken word segment. After this section, the cut turns hard and dark. Metal elements merge well with Crimsonesque sorts of wandering and a bass line that is at times rather funky. This is incredibly powerful music. It takes a bit of a turn, focusing more on this funky bass line. The hard-edged elements continue for a time, then the cut becomes quite a tasty jam with both prog and jazz leanings. The guitar work on this segment is quite tasty. It then changes modes again, going for a time into feedback laded chaos before returning to its earlier metal themes. This gives way to a more Crimsonesque segment that dissolves into feed back oriented cacophony. The song ends abruptly.
Feast of Ashes
Pretty and mysterious keyboard textures begin this cut. The number then starts to pick up very dramatic and powerful prog tones. It keeps moving forward and building. When the next movement crashes in, it is as a wave of melodic chord driven prog. That segment ends and the keyboards rise up to fill the gap with synthesized surges, rising and falling. This movement carries on for a time, pretty and rather soothing. After a time, more solid prog types of modes flood out of the void and being to powerfully carry the listener on through the remainder of the piece. This is quite a beautiful, poignant and powerful cut.
Grooming the Psychosis
Keyboard based sounds start this cut in a twisted and rather discomforting manner. These essentially give way to fast paced prog in a rather melodic Crimson mode. The cut essentially explodes after a time in a wondrous prog guitar fury. That fury dies back down and a continuing mode is left. This segment keeps plugging along with minor shifts in textures and patterns until the guitar again erupts carry the piece to new heights of intensity. As this section ends, the composition takes a major left turn into a hard-edged '70's tinged guitar prog groove. This segment continues for a time, then abruptly ends. The quirky and rather dissonant segment that emerges out of this is strong and potent. It also includes some very powerful crunchy metallic modes. This then gives way to a frantic guitar solo dominated groove that really works. This cut is an incredible piece of work that just keeps transforming over and over again.
Topanga Safari
Starting with some great bass riffing, this becomes very melodic progressive rock with a great rhythmic texture. It is a strong groove that keeps moving and changing without shifting abruptly. The closest thing to an abrupt change on this number is a false ending after which the track resumes its previous mode.
Ten Days To The Sand
Somewhat mysterious sounding tones start this one. It begins to turn darker and more powerful as the counterpuntal sections enter. This segment carries on for a time before being replaced by a lighter melodic segment. This melodic movement is uplifting and potent. The piece seems to wander between two very satisfying modes, and really kicks, especially right near the end.
Burning the Hard City
Starting in a dramatic, effects based mode, this one starts building gradually. The cut then crescendos as it restarts with a solid rock guitar solo segment. This has a great groove to it. The piece transforms several times, still running in solid rock modes. It takes on elements of Zeppelin and the Dregs at times.
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