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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Devil's Jigsaw

Review by Josh Turner

There are so many mediocre bands these days that it's become like sand on a beach. I guess this proliferation of music is good in some ways. Every now and then the crops yield some extraordinary product, but it takes effort to find the next jewel. After sifting through a number of average bands, I came across this stunning treasure. The album art is what first caught my eye. It's a jigsaw puzzle with a one of the tiles removed to expose the underlying artwork. The same graphics are replicated to match their web site wallpaper. This depiction drastically piqued my curiosity. As a result, I quickly moved the album to the top of my queue. I had to quench the inquisitiveness forming inside my thirsty mind.

The music is instantly engrossing and extraordinarily melodious. The production is squeaky clean and the songwriting is stellar. Immediately, I was one impressed listener. The music is a culinary delight that uniquely combines Violet District with A.C.T. It's lightly seasoned with Queen, ingrained with Izz, and speckled with Spock's Beard. There is even a hint of Dream Theater in its gravy. As soon as the first spoonful hit my tongue, I was experiencing pure ecstasy. Each track is a different delicatessen that features its very own taste.

Much later I discovered that the majority of tracks were done on the first take. This is nowhere near obvious and goes by completely undetected. I didn't even have a single suspicion. You'll feast on this material as if you're famished. You'll gobble this up swiftly resulting in the need to loosen your belt to give yourself more room to nosh. There is no filler in the frosting and as soon as you're done, you'll crave more.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
The Devil's Advocate
The first piece is filled with color and shape. It will be easy to find many matches. This song pulls in a wide range of influences. One minute you hear A.C.T, the next Violet District, then a little Queen, Spock's Beard, and even some Dream Theater. It's so symphonic and melodious, your head will fill with a hallucinogenic rush.

Neon (black is white)
Typically repeated lines and melodies get called rehash, boring, or worse. In this case, it couldn't be further from the truth. They take an ultra-catchy melody line and sculpt its clay into a work of art. The addictive properties will have you singing along before it's done. This will appeal to fans of Izz' I Move.

Menno Broer van Dijk's piano induces thoughts of Neal Morse. Afterwards, a transition takes us to the alleyways of the Violet District. This starts out as a simple ballad, but eventually gets as wacky as the earlier pieces. It ultimately ends in the territory of A.C.T.

Paradox (instrumental)
The singer takes a break while the musicians wallop us with wonder. This is a short, but stellar instrumental track. This one reminds me most of Dream Theater's Hells Kitchen. Because it is much different than what's come before, it demonstrates the band's versatility.

Here & Now
The one is dreadfully similar (in a good way) to Michael Smith's enormously famous song My Place in this World. At one point, I interchanged the two and didn't realize I was listening to the other. Think of Smith's song with Brian May's guitars and you pretty much have an idea of how it sounds.

The Hymn (to the infamous Dutch weather system)
This is a progged-up version of a Richard Marx song (again, in a good way). It has all the sensibilities of pop with the unpredictability and cunning of progressive rock. It even features an oboe midway (what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn't mention it?). The lyrics lack discretion in places like a juvenile playing hooky without a care in the world. The terminology chosen by this truant teenager expresses a loathsome disposition.

Twist of Fate
Classic Spock's Beard quickly surfaces in this song and finds itself intermingled with Queen. In a few places, it even manages to sound like Dream Theater's Scenes from a Memory. The cut changes pace frequently and incorporates tons of well-written melodic pleasures. I really like the fun and energetic demeanor of this song. This is a clever way to compose a song and it pulls in a lot of elements that will be adored by fans of progressive rock. The Michael Smith element returns at the end (I hope by now a disclaimer is unnecessary).
If I hadn't already known I was listening to Splinter, I would have thought this track came from Izz. As it continues on, it receives a tinge of Transatlantic and a trace of The Flower Kings before it slips into some of Dream Theater's attire. The end journeys back again to the Wizards of Izz. With all these diverse influences, it is both familiar and unique at the same time. It is hard to say what song is best, but the finale makes a strong case for itself. While it may be a hung jury due to all the excellent and incriminating exhibits on the album, legal analysts say the panel leans heavily towards this one. My surprise of the year comes as a double-whammy. I discovered this album around the same time as Hourglass' Subconscious. To my delight, The Devil's Jigsaw is equally impressive and follows suit to create a winning hand with many of my favorite progressive rock bands. The album frequently integrates Izz, Spock's Beard, and A.C.T into the fold. It is mostly rock, but shares some of Dream Theater's songwriting. Yet, the music is completely barren of these metal motivations. On the whole, there is a lot of hearty goodness in the grain of this blissful baguette. Bottom line, The Devil's Jigsaw is very, Very, VERY good. Splinter certainly belongs above the radar at the top of the progressive rock food chain.
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