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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Persephone's Dream

Pyre of Dreams

Review by Gary Hill

Great progressive rock always comes with a learning curve. Well, I haven’t decided yet if this is great progressive rock, but it’s darn good and comes with a steep learning curve. I’ve been listening to this off and on for several months and it’s just now sunk in. I really do like it quite a bit. My guess is as time wears on it will become even more treasured. The vocals are really what steal the show here and they borrow a lot from European epic metal in that aspect because they have shared male and female leads. Much of this is especially dynamic, shifting here and there in the course of a song. This group is hard to pin down in terms of who they sound like, but you’ll certainly think of different groups in the course of listening. All in all it’s a strong disc, even if it takes a while to figure that out.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
This track starts off tentatively with a rather Goth-like texture to it. They shift it out to a pretty straightforward rock ballad approach as they carry on. We get some crunchy metallic structures as they carry forward. The vocals really steal the show on this song. There is a cool section later where they move it out to a rhythmically driven segment. Various sounds come over the top of this backdrop as they carry on. Eventually after some more instrumental work this gives way to a harder rocking central song structure that takes it out.

The opening riff on this feels very much like metal but as they build it up there is a definite twist to it that you wouldn’t expect in heavy metal. This introduction is unusual. It gives way to a more straightforward central song structure, but even then keyboards dance in progressive rock ways over the top. The vocals to this along with the mix really make me think of Dream Theater quite a bit at times.  They take this through and then out later to a Uriah Heep like section. They take the track through a number of cool changes, dropping it down at one point for a short segment and then bringing it back up into a killer jam.

Weird keys and bass start us off here. The vocals come in over the top of this and the track has a rather tentative feel to it at this point. When they power it up it’s both quite dramatic and quite metallic. The layered vocal arrangement really steals the show. Much of this is pretty much pure metal – well, OK, progressive metal, but metal nonetheless. I love the Eastern musical textures that show up through much of this.

An instrumental this is essentially a percussion solo. At times it’s standard percussion and at times tuned. You’ll hear other sounds once in a while, too. This is a short one at just over a minute and a half in length.

Temple in Time
They start off here with a dramatic prog ballad approach and the track grows gradually. It’s another where the vocals really shine but we also get some cool keyboards wandering here and there. It shifts out to a cool riff driven motif after a time and we get more of those Eastern motifs at times. At times the vocals on this almost become soulful. They turn us to some considerably dramatic, nearly theatric music for a while. Then the track twists towards the dark and mysterious as they build something new. Still further down the road we get a classic rock sort of element in an understated musical arrangement. This section fades down to end the piece.
Less than three minutes in length, this is a dramatic and rather spooky piece. The first half is just effects and other layers of sound with some echoey spoken vocals. It gains some sung vocals later, but even then they feel distant and artificial somehow.
Soliloquy of a King
This is brought in dramatic and theatric. There are definite elements of metal here but it’s got a lot more on its plate than just that. Perhaps you could even see it as modern opera. There is a vocal climax with an echoed “the dragon” and then we are moved out into atmosphere to segue into the next track.
A cool bass guitar line leads this off. Percussion joins and the vocals come in over the top. Keys come in next and soon the whole group is moving out in this jam. It’s another that somehow reminds me a bit of Dream Theater, but perhaps with a bit of Paradise Theater era Styx in there. There’s a cool section later with keyboards soloing and a voice soaring over the top in non-lyrical fashion. This really makes me think of classic Styx.
"Avalon" is the closing segment of the epic "Temple in Time" suite. This comes in with a dramatic balladic approach. They keep it like this for a time, but then introduce a faster paced, bass driven prog rock section. They alternate between these two motifs for about the first minute and a half. Then it shifts out to a killer prog journey that has a rather funky bass front and center in the mix. It gets just a little metal at times, but I don’t think anyone would accuse this of being heavy metal. They take us out to a different section after a time that somehow reminds me a bit of Rush. The overall effect on this somewhat makes me think of Lana Lane. They aren’t finished changing this around, though. Indeed the track just seems like a nearly endless series of twists and turns. For those who like their prog with plenty of left turns this is tailor made. It’s quite a powerhouse and one of the highlights of the CD.
Android Dreams
Effects start things off here and then we get a ballad-like structure. After a while they fire this out into a killer prog rock jam that’s energetic and keyboard laden. This is another that calls to mind Dream Theater quite a bit at times. They turn in a bit of a metal jam here and there, but keep up the prog throughout. The Rush influences show up at times on this one. The ending is kind of cool where the vocals say, “Synaptic breakdown” and they do in fact break the music down. There is a distant reprise of the vocals that serves as the actual outro.
This is hard edged and soulful. At times it reminds me a bit of Led Zeppelin. There are some weirder prog excursions on this, but overall I’d put it in the vein of Led Zeppelin meets Lana Lane. There is a killer ELP-like jam later on this. Yet they don’t stay there long. Instead they drop it away toward more balladic music and bring in dueling vocals here. We get some powerful vocals in a potent ballad motif later. Overall this is a track that just keeps shifting and rearranging. It also includes some of the most purely metal material on show here. Yet, even those segments don’t stay around long. The chorus later in the track where the male and female vocals trade lines is brilliant. It is beautiful and is eventually faded down to end the track.

Alien Embassy
The first two minutes plus of this track are in a dramatic prog ballad approach. As they move out from there it’s in a moody faster paced jam that has bits of Rush and Dream Theater in it. This gives way to a faster journey. I like the vocal arrangement on this segment a lot. Eventually we get a drop away and then they build it back up in some cool directions. When it explodes out into the melodic chorus section it’s simply incredible. Once again, nothing here stays around long, though. They drop it back to an effects laden segment that’s built on percussion and then fire out into a metallic version of the song’s main themes.

Soliloquy of a King
Dramatic and theatric, this track should be a “must play” in every Dungeons and Dragon session – assuming people still play. It’s made powerful by multiple layers of vocals, but it’s a little over the top for my tastes at times. This is a short piece that segues straight into the next one.

Sound effects start things here. A rather funky bass line enters and the vocals soar over the top of this. This whole thing grows organically into a killer prog rock jam. Although this is one of the least dynamic cuts here it’s also one of the most effective. I like this one a  lot and it’s a great choice to end the disc.
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