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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Mob Rules

Radical Peace

Review by Gary Hill

With a name like “Mob Rules” you might think that these guys were going to have a sound that was based on the Black Sabbath era that was fronted by Ronnie James Dio (or the band now called “Heaven and Hell”). Well, that’s not the case. These guys produce a brand of epic metal that’s incredibly complex and powerful. Their sound never gets boring and much of this reaches the heights of something as stellar as Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime. They include an eighteen minute multi-part suite about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I’d highly recommend this album to fans of progressive metal, but also to fans of metallic prog – as much of this fits that bill.

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
Children Of The Flames

Starting with a mellower approach like a powered up ballad, this shifts out into a really mean riff and they launch out into a killer epic metal jam from there. It’s a real screamer and I like it a lot. It’s got drama, power and character. It’s also got some classical elements in terms of its treatment but is still all metal. They take us through a number of changes and this is just plain awesome.

Trial By Fire
If you thought the last one was a screamer you haven’t heard anything yet. This comes in rather mellow, too, but turns into a fired up and very mean riff driven metal stomper. I think that I prefer the flavors of the opener a bit more than this one, but you can’t argue with that riff. The chorus has a more epic metal melodic sound to it.
Warchild
This is a powerful cut that’s very epic in its scope and arrangement. It’s the most emotionally poignant piece we’ve heard to this point and it’s also the best number so far. They are only really getting started, though. 
Astral Hand
Here’s where they go from great to sublime. This starts off with a reasonably classically tinged mellower introduction. It turns out from there into a jam that has both metal and prog rock elements to it. The track works out later into a segment that is soaring and powerful and makes me think of Operation Mindcrime era Queensryche. They pull it down to a mellow acoustic guitar based ballad segment further down the road. That motif eventually takes it out. All in all this is epic in its scope, if not its length. 
The Oswald File (Ethnolution II: A Matter Of Unnecessary Doubt) Chapter I (Prologue)
A clip of John F. Kennedy talking about the Berlin wall begins this. They take us out from there into some killer progressive epic metal. It runs through like this for a while and then drops back to a piano driven and very pretty melody that carries into the next piece. As the title suggests, this is basically an introduction. 
The Oswald File (Ethnolution II: A Matter Of Unnecessary Doubt) Chapter II (Desperate Son)
The piano from the previous number continues here and then the number is built up from there in a sound that is very definitely a progressive rock ballad. As it rises later to metal territory it’s closer to something from Dream Theater than it is to true metal. They carry on by dropping back to the balladic and then alternating between these sounds. It works through several variations and eventually drops to something reminds me a bit of the more ambient, moody side of Pink Floyd to transition into the next number. 
The Oswald File (Ethnolution II: A Matter Of Unnecessary Doubt) Chapter III (11.30 a.m.)
Coming in rather ambient and dark, this continues the themes that ended the last movement. Newscasts are heard in the backdrop as this continues to grow in a dark progressive rock styling. Just over a minute in length, this is essentially an instrumental. 
The Oswald File (Ethnolution II: A Matter Of Unnecessary Doubt) Chapter IV (Unnecessary Doubt?)
Acoustic guitar based balladic elements take it from the zone of the last number. They continue the dark and moody atmosphere and classical instrumentation joins over the top. A short instrumental connecting piece, this crescendos to set the piece for the next movement. 
The Oswald File (Ethnolution II: A Matter Of Unnecessary Doubt) Chapter V (A Dead Man's Face)
A dramatic and powerful metallic structure serves as the intro here. It reminds me quite a bit of Operation Mindcrime era Queensryche. As they continue this is reworked and gets new musical ideas. The theme, though, keeps going. The cut doesn’t really feel like Queensryche in terms of sound after that introductory section, though. That said, this progressive rock based epic metal arrangement is every bit as strong as that other album – and there are a few more Rychian echoes here and there. Considering that in my opinion Operation Mindcrime is the best album of all time by anyone, that’s high praise. As this modulates into a different metal motif later we get news coverage of Kennedy being shot – before the reporters knew for certain what had happened beyond something happening to the motorcade. They continue by working through a number of alterations on the musical themes and then take it back to the opening motifs to carry forward. This is simply incredible and again calls to mind Queensryche a bit. They drop it way down to just acoustic guitar to take it into the next movement. 
The Oswald File (Ethnolution II: A Matter Of Unnecessary Doubt) Chapter VI (Did You Reach The Sun?)
Acoustic guitar from the previous cut continues here and they take it into a pretty ballad approach to herald the vocals. After a time we get a resurgence of metal, but it takes on more progressive rock elements quite quickly beyond that point. They run us through a number of intriguing changes as this continues and it becomes extremely powerful. It’s one that I think I would probably classify as progressive rock, although there’s definitely metal in the mix. 
Waiting For The Sun
A fiery metal number, this is a real screamer that reminds me a bit of bands like Helloween. It’s got plenty of modern epic metal in the mix. They continue to reinvent this and it’s another great piece of music. It is a real tribute to the power of this piece that it actually holds up after the epic that came before it. 
The Glance Of Fame
This is more just pure metal, but yet it has some of that old school Queensryche feeling to it. It doesn’t feel at all generic or weak. After the powerhouses that have made up the last few pieces that says a lot. It makes for a strong closer to the set.
 
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