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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ice Age

The Great Divide

Review by Gary Hill

It would be easy to describe this album by saying that it is very Dream Theater influenced. It would also be somewhat inaccurate. Yes, there are a lot of Dream Theater influences throughout, but there are other leanings here as well. For instance, most of the vocals seem to be rather like Dennis DeYoung's vocals in early Styx. Also, the drummer seems to be a big fan of Neil Peart, or at least from his work it sounds like it. This is definitely a CD that has strong Dream Theater leanings, but there is a lot more going on here, as well. Ice Age is Jimmy Pappas, Arron DiCesare, Josh Pincus and Hal Aponte.

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Track by Track Review
Perpetual Child
Hard edged, metallic modes start this cut, but as the keys enter, this one feels a lot like Dream Theater's brand of hard prog. The verse is in a more sedate, nearly funky style driven by some great bass work. As the band comes out of the verse, though, the DT similarities return to the fore. The cut seems to move between these various modes and includes a great quirky instrumental break and another that reminds me of Rush's "La Villa Strangiatto". This track really cooks.
Great fast paced prog, the vocals are quite strong on this one, in an almost Styxish way. The cut has a nice, more sedate section with killer bass work. This leads to a great instrumental break where we again hear the DT leanings.
Beginning with a hard edged intro with more Styxish vocals, this cut drastically changes gear to a slower prog mode that begins building back upward from there. This one is also quite Dtish. It drops back down to begin building again.
Spare Chicken Parts (Instrumental)
Starting with hard-edged guitar sounds, the mode quickly becomes dramatic metallic prog. This one realty starts moving after a time, then drops back to a slower, fairly melodic mode that still features screaming guitar, this time in a rather fusionish style. DT oriented tones show up after this part and continue for some time. Next the piece drops to a melodic segment and builds back up from there. Another brief stop leads to a very cool keyboard solo that forms the basis for the next batch of jamming. This leads to a drum solo. A nice bit is a stop with a quote from 2001 A Space Oddessy, then back into the drum solo. Keys bring us out, and, as the rest of the band joins, it is in a slow melodic sort of mode. Next, the cut goes back to its earlier frantic modes and a staccato Dream Theaterish segment ends the piece.
Because of You
A nice intro with some distinctly Peartish drums, this is a mellower song than we have encounter thus far on the album. It is a solid effort in a nice prog fashion. After building and building, the cut drops back to its beginning modes and features a strong outro.
The Bottom Line
A dramatic prog melody line, a bit in a cinematic mode, starts this one. The band builds on it in metallic styles. It then drops back to a very melodic and prog oriented style to continue. The metallic tones with very strong vocals return for the chorus. Featuring a great melodic instrumental break, this composition is very potent.
Ice Age
Atmospheric keyboard tones begin this one, in interesting textures. As the tune moves forward, those tones continue building. Spoken, distant, almost dreamlike vocals combine with the keys to make up the rest of the intro. As the secondary intro starts, the other instruments join in a melodic Rushish mode. Then, as the song drops to the verse, it is in a sparse mode and begins building from there. The central complaint about this cut is that the vocals are a bit over the top at times. The music here is some of the best prog on the whole disc, though, building and reinventing. At 11 minutes this one qualifies as an epic.
One Look Away
Pretty piano starts this cut, and the early segments here are in a piano/vocal format. As the other instruments enter, for the chorus, it is in a good solid prog mode. Then it reverts back to the sparser arrangement for the next verse. Once the band joins back the next time, those fuller prog modes continue for the majority of the piece. Even when we return to the piano/vocal segment, the arrangement still contains the other instruments and is more full. This is a strong prog cut that is in a rather balladic style and features a very tasteful guitar solo.
Miles to Go
Montrose sounding effects laden guitar starts this cut. Then a great metal riff takes over for a short time. As the other instruments join, it transforms the cut to hard-edged prog. This one has a few surprises in store, particularly in the unusual prog instrumental break. The bass on this cut really shines, and at one point it includes some rather Howeish guitar work.
To Say Goodbye

Worthless Words
Piano starts this instrumental section. The other instruments join and the jam is on in a fast paced prog fashion. This segment is all over the place musically and features some wonderful moments. The late segments of this movement are occupied by a wonderful piano solo.
On Our Way
The piano mode from the first segment begins this movement, but after a short time the cut changes gear, becoming fast and frantic metallic prog. This is another cut that gets very DTish. It goes through a lot of change in its course. The number features a nice melodic section and a fusionish jam afterwards that really make the piece.
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