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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Lifeline

For All Who Triumph

Review by Travis Jensen

As we begin another new decade, it is time again for the music industry to change focus and direction towards a new horizon. Many genres of music have exhausted themselves and it is now time for something new to come forward and set the pace for the next ten years. That band is The Lifeline, and the music they are making is something extraordinarily unique. Originally hailing from Chicago, The Lifeline seem to set themselves aside from the barrage of bands in today’s progressive rock scene. The Lifeline astounds me musically because of the classical music element that is a driving force in each song in which is uncommon for any hard-rock act. This is all in part to their violinist and co-songwriter Rebecca Faber. Combine this with the incredible vocal range of Ryan T. Hope, and you get the creative musical mesh in which they have coined as "Class meets Sass".


This is the second album, successor to Where there is Life, there is Hope... which is the sequel, if you will, of the first riveting studio performance. There is no telling how far The Lifeline will go throughout their career. This commanding group has an incredible stage presence which is evident in videos and live performances. They definitely have the hard, yet fluid appeal, which is even more so enforced with the violin and matching guitar style. Although there are a few tracks that become a little redundant, there are several songs that will surprise you and make you realize that this group is extremely talented.

Together with Hope and Faber the Lifeline also consists of Eddie Yonushatis on rhythm and lead guitars, John Kronenburger on bass guitar and Lonni Lane on drums. With influences such as Pink Floyd, one can only guess that they are nothing less than a group of progressive rock virtuosos, who are in my opinion comparable to Rush, Yes, and Even Dream Theater. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Beginnings

A musical intro is always cool for any rock group. Although it is the typical way to start, this track does it with violin in such a way that really draws your attention, as its somber notes and bleak sound give you the impression of a funeral march perhaps, or maybe even the death of a hero on the movie screen. The combination of piano keys and violin are something unexpected, yet exciting as you first lay your ears on this, and wonder what is coming next.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Now this is the way to start an album! The first track is what you are initially introduced to as a solid first impression, of course, which will set the pace for the remaining cuts and keep you interested in the rest. This one is very forceful, kind of like a freight train coming at full speed. The vocals are phenomenal and are strongly backed by forceful guitar and violin riffs with a huge rhythm section. This one will be hard to top!
The Four Rooms
I love the guitar and violin build-up beginning in this one that leads right into the fluid vocals of Ryan Hope. The rest of the song still maintains the same musical mystique, but lacks the energy as the one before it, mostly because of the fact that this track is driven mostly by rhythm. However, there are a few spots that Hope uses a heavy edge with his vocal style that maintains a diversity that makes the song unique.
Mystery
There is a killer rhythm and main riff here! This is where I sense the full potential of the violin coming through in full force. What I appreciate the most is the way these guys make it their own, aside from any other outside influences. The vocals are probably the most prominent part of this song as they come through like tornado sirens in the chorus areas and final conclusion of the song.
...And Still They Search
Eddie Yonushatis leads the way, followed by Rebecca Faber with a pulsating rhythm that is captivating as Hope joins with the vocals. This is probably one of my favorite songs on the album thus far as it gains momentum into something that is powerful, but still doesn’t lose the main idea. The vocals are just incredible, and the bridge parts are a nice change, adding more of an overall musical interest to the song. The incorporation of classical styles and guitar harmonies at the end is also a nice way to cap it off.
Honesty
This track is a suitable change from the first five songs, which keep things alive musically, in my opinion. However, it really isn’t one of my most liked tracks on the album, mostly because of the fact that it tends to become a little boring vocally, but that seems a little typical of a ballad, especially when compared to those before it. By the time the second verse comes along, it seems a little uninteresting. The enthusiasm of the guitars and crescendo of the vocals towards the end are definitely something that helps to create more of an energetic conclusion.
Leave Everything to Me
This is track reminds me of Trans Siberian Orchestra, because of the qualities of the violin, which is comparable to the power of the rest of the instruments in the band. What I like about this is the individuality of each instrument coming together to make something extremely triumphant. The lyrics of this song are of particular interest to me, as it incorporates the high range of Hope’s voice with grinding backing vocals that give it a definite metal sound. This seems to tie directly to the darker side created by the music itself.
Not for Nothing
I love the beginning of this one…very rhythmic, up-beat and energetic. The guitars are a fantastic compliment to the build-up to one of the best displays of Hope’s vocal ability. The subtle overriding violin riffs are a smooth supplement to the guitars in a way that is supporting, yet not overpowering. 
Moth to Flame
This song has me on the fence on things I like and don’t like. The lyrics have meaning, and there are violin parts in the chorus that stand out and hold it together. Yet the longer vocal notes in the verses seem a little too repetitive, as the entire song seems to be based solely on rhythm. The higher vocal parts towards the end seem to fit the style of the song and the violin and guitar parts at the end really seem to save the credibility of the song, but this also appears to be the reoccurring trend of several previous songs.
I-90
There is definitely a different style to this song that almost seems to have a pop influence to it. What I like about this one is the fact that the vocals start practically at the beginning which is a nice change of pace from the songs before it which seem to rely solely on a violin and guitar in the beginning before any vocals take place. This is a quick number rhythmically that gets the musical message across fast and effectively. The only part about ot that I don’t too much care for is the fade-out at the end. 
Longing for the Day
This song starts a little differently than the rest. The driving violin rhythm almost has the qualities of a guitar solo which make this another personal favorite for me. The backing vocals also stand out prominently, which displays the versatility and obvious talent of the band members. However, because of the overall texture, I feel that there should be more of a raw edge to the guitar solo which could give the cut more versatility and not make it seem so minimal.
Resolution
I particularly like the musical changes with this one. The bridge in the middle with the backing vocals break up the main melody and give the song more creativity. The violin melodies are also broken up in a way that gives it more of an expressive quality in the same way a lead guitar does, while still maintaining the rhythm heard in previous tracks.
For All Who Triumph
This is the title track for the album, and is where the musical diversity of each member of the band is evident. Sure, they are a progressive rock band, but not your typical prog. There are bands out there that delve into power ballads, but this song isn’t that at all. The intro is melodic, but not as predictable as several of the songs before it where the melody seems to be the same. This one goes through more of an evolution where the melodies carry the weight of the tune, but the heaviness of the vocals and guitars are there to supplement it effectively.
Eye in the Sky
This is the song on this album that has more of a fluid quality that appears to be a little slow at first. However, when you consider the melodies on the opening track, you realize that the band has gone full-circle with the song selections. This is flawless musically and is simply amazing when you consider the level of perfection between each member coming together as a finely-tuned machine. Faber’s violin and Hope’s vocal range on this one really grab your attention and hold it throughout the entire tune, creating a magical ending to a superb album.
 
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