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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Port Mahadia

Echoes In Time

Review by Gary Hill

This CD is a concept album and has both an epic and personal angle to its story. The music here skirts the metal/progressive rock edge. In fact, it wanders so close to that border that several times I’ve tried to review as a progressive rock release and wound up chalking it up as “metal” and passing it by. I’d have to say that this one is almost a fifty-fifty game, but in the end I put it under progressive rock. There are a couple notable guest on this. The first is Kansas’ David Ragsdale providing violin. The second is ELO’s Hugh McDowell.

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
Prologue (Beach Discovery)
Beach sounds (waves and seagulls) start this. A grinding metallic guitar emerges at first in the background. It rises up gradually. As it shifts to the forefront keyboards and other more melodic sounds join to bring a different light. This is dramatic and mysterious. It’s got a lot of fusion in its delivery. It shifts out towards metal and then moves into territory closer to Dream Theater. Guitar solos over the top here and there and this definitely gets quite crunchy. They take it through a few shifts and changes and we even get a violin solo. It drops way down around the two and a half minute mark and keyboards seem to mimic that waves that lead this off. A balladic guitar motif is introduced and becomes the backdrop for the vocals. We get instruments flying over the top like the gulls in the intro. The vocal section is fairly short and ends abruptly.
Sirens Call
Another balladic section, powered again by guitar starts this off. They build on this for the first vocal segment. It soars out from there in a fusion-like jam that’s quite potent. As they take this through the next vocal segment it’s quite dramatic. Afterward it’s dropped way back down for an instrumental section. Keyboards create lush textures over the top and this segment ends the track.
Log Entry
With truth in advertising firmly in place, sea sounds serve as the backdrop for a spoken word log entry reading. This short piece is less than thirty minutes in length.
Horizons
This is a fairly metallic powerhouse that has a lot in common with the prog period of Rush. Although much of this track is metallic, it definitely has a lot in common with the instrumentals Geddy Lee and company create. We get some killer performances from everyone involved and this is a stellar instrumental. While Rush is the dominant influence for my money, you will probably make out some Dream Theater here and there, too.
Requiem of the Mind
By this point we are well in the middle of the section of the disc that has me wanting to put it into heavy metal. This track has an epic symphonic metal feeling to it. Yet, the vocals are more in keeping with progressive rock. I’m sure the prog purists will be running for cover on this one, but it’s is a cool piece of music. A more melodic section on this will be more akin to what neo-prog fans are used to hearing. The harder edged, metallic motif that takes the next vocal segment after this is quite dramatic and theatric – and down right cool. The guitar solo that comes beyond there is very much pure metal.

Times Companion
“Moody and melancholy,” “pretty and poignant” – both of these would be great alliterations to describe this progressive rock ballad. There is a dramatic section here where another spoken word piece – the same person from the log entry is paired with an angelic woman’s voice over the central structure of the piece. This is one of my favorites on the disc.
Riding the Wind
At less than a minute and a half, this instrumental is one that combines metal and fusion in a violin based extravaganza.

Distant Shores
Another that has some Rushish elements at times, this is a powered up progressive rock anthemic ballad based number. When they move out into the more soaring instrumental section it combines fusion and Rush in a crunchy jam. They turn it more purely metal later, but then give us a powerful instrumental closer that’s very much prog rock.
I Of the Storm
A dramatic ballad approach makes up the first portion of this song. As it’s intensified on the chorus we get female vocals. They take us through a soaring guitar solo segment and then off into a riff driven instrumental section that calls to mind both Rush and Dream Theater. A new section comes in that really feels like Hemispheres era Rush, perhaps with a bit more crunch. Next they take us in a pure metal journey that’s a bit generic at times and sure to chase off all the progressive rock purists. Eventually we are taken back to more pure Rush-like tendencies – of the mellower brand. We get another log entry over this. Then it shifts out to a jam that’s perhaps a bit like Joe Satriani. More metallic music is brought in and a dramatic female chorale type vocal (processed and distant) is put over the top of this. After a time they shift out into another frantic jam, this one feeling like a more metallic Rush. This gives way to a drop down from there. As they take this for a short time into more balladic modes we get more of the sea sounds in the mix. At over thirteen and a half minutes in length this epic is the longest track on show here.
Epilogue (Beach Realization)
The disc closer is a balladic cut with neo-classical leanings. The vocal line really reminds me a lot of John Wetton – and that’s high praise indeed. As you might guess from the parenthetical, the sounds of the beach serve to accompany this and the narrator comes to a powerful realization that wraps things up nicely.
 
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