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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


The Universal Being

Review by Gary Hill

I’d consider this progressive rock, but I could imagine some prog purists lumping it into heavy metal. The mix here is a weird one. There’s a lot of metal in terms of the crunch, but the arrangements are symphonic, too. The inclusion of operatic vocals (and I mean that in the literal sense), though, lends something entirely different to the mix. Some of the tracks also include synthesized male vocals to complement the female opera singer. All in all this is a strange, but intriguing ride. I think it tends to be a bit monolithic and I’m not a big fan of opera, but it still works pretty well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at
Track by Track Review
Universal Overture

Gradually rising up, a symphonic prog sound is joined by operatic vocals. This is quite classical in texture.

Korzum Inc...
After the classically based splendor of the previous cut, this one fires out in a hard rocking, metallic progressive rock arrangement. The operatic (and I mean that literally) vocals presented in the previous number continue here. Those vocals bring a classical tone to the piece. It works through a few changes and alterations as it continues. At times this moves close to heavy metal territory. There’s some great melodic guitar soloing built into this piece.
Mother Universe
On the one hand, some of the arrangement here is more metallic. Still, the operatic vocals and killer keyboard textures land it in progressive rock territory. 
This comes in more metallic, but those operatic vocals and the symphonic overtones elevate it more into the realm of progressive rock. There are some cool synthesized vocals later that remind me of Nektar. We also get a killer melodic guitar solo segment. 
The Universal Being
The overall roadmap here is quite similar to that found on the previous piece. It’s strong, but the opera vocals are starting to wear a bit thin on me by this point. The guitar solo on this piece, though, is exceptional, raising the whole track up a bit. 
This is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s a powerful cut that’s more traditional progressive rock. The operatic vocals are the exception to the rule here and this is one of the highlights of the set.
Here we have a short balladic piece with more opera vocals. This is pretty and quite purely progressive rock in its nature. 
The basic motifs that make up the bulk of the disc are back here. It does have some moments that are a bit more melodic and the instrumental section is definitely worth mentioning. 
Clash of the Titans
Musically this is, perhaps, closer to something from Dream Theater. The opera vocals, though, won’t let you think it’s from that band. 
The central musical styles that have dominated the disc are present here, but in addition we get some extremely melodic music and some sounds that call to mind Kraftwerk at times. The guitar solo on this is especially stirring. There’s also a slow moving section ending this that, with some different vocals, wouldn’t be out of place on a Yes album. 
Doll of Flesh
There’s an extensive instrumental introduction here that reminds me of Joe Satriani. Beyond that, though, the track is much like a lot of the rest of the disc. The opera vocals alternate with synthesized ones. The closing segment on this is extremely powerful. 
Universal Finale
This track feels like a bookend to the disc’s opener. Musically it seems related. The vocals are still operatic, but there’s something about the soaring sound of them that really works. It also, at times, reminds me of the theme music to the original “Star Trek” TV series – at least in terms of the vocals.
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