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Non-Prog CD Reviews


Ambassadors of the Hidden Sun

Review by Gary Hill

This thing is almost progressive rock. It’s also almost heavy metal. It’s more straight ahead hard rock, though. The closest comparison would be to Deep Purple, but that’s only so appropriate. While this band might not be a household name, a couple members of the group have ties to bands that are. Doogie White provides the vocals and he has sung with a number of Deep Purple people, including a stint in Rainbow. Bobby Rondinelli was also in Rainbow along with Deep Purple and he plays on this album. The mastermind behind this project is K. C. Melekyan. While the other members aren’t household names, the music this group plays should, if the music business were a fair thing based on talent and quality, make them such.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review

There’s a short vocal bit, “you are condemned, you better go.” Then keyboards herald the intro of the song. This one feels rather like Vanilla Fudge merged with Deep Purple. It’s a cool rocker that’s not the proggiest thing here, but has enough prog to keep it interesting. There’s a cool jam later that some might consider metal. Personally, I think of it as a modernization of some of the sounds from Deep Purple’s Burn era.

Ambassadors of the Hidden Sun
The riff that opens this just screams “classic rock.” I can hear some Montrose on this, but a lot of other sounds, too. It’s another smoking hot tune. Deep Purple is certainly a reference point, but so is Led Zeppelin. The instrumental sections bring it into proggier territory. There is a drop down to melodic sedate soundscapes, too. The bluesy vocal performance on that section is killer. Further down the road this really resembles Deep Purple quite a bit.
There’s a spoken introduction of sorts with a female voice speaking (seemingly like found sound) in another language. It powers out from there is a smoking hot, hard rocking jam. This number is really a power metal or epic metal tune and it’s very strong. There are some progressive rock like changes on the extended instrumental section later in the number.
Sedate keyboards bring this in and a crunchy guitar solos over the top. Then around the one minute mark it powers out with metallic fury into a another killer jam. While in some ways this makes me think of epic metal, other elements call to mind Uriah Heep quite a bit. Wherever you see the influences lie, though, it’s a great tune. The instrumental section is both crunch and melodic and very cool.
Dad is Gone
This pretty ballad is intricate, symphonic and beautiful. If the rest of the disc were closer to this, it would be a progressive rock album. Acoustic guitar and voice are the main players here, but keyboards and strings play a big role, too. The instrumental section, in particular, makes great use of additional instrumentation to expand on the central musical theme.
Home Sweet Home
Another metallic rocker, this is definitely another cut with a lot of Deep Purple built into this mix. It’s also an extremely strong number.
With and Without You
Here’s a definite progressive rock piece. This is a balladic number with an intricate and powerful, yet sedate, arrangement. It rises up towards metallic power ballad territory at points later in the piece. Some of the acoustic guitar soloing on this piece is extremely complex and delicate. This is really a dynamic cut and it moves out to Latin music at the end.
There’s a bluesy, gritty grind that makes up this song. It’s not quite metal, but it’s very crunchy. It’s also very tasty. There’s definitely a lot of classic rock built into this. As this beast continues Deep Purple is again a valid reference point. There’s a cool mellower section that serves as the outro.
Keyboards open this and hold it for a while. Other elements come in as this grows out with a psychedelic meets prog approach for a time. Crunch guitar hits about a minute and a half in, bringing this back into Deep Purple like territory. This works out into funk for a short time, then we get some serious hard edged fusion with classical guitar soloing. This is one of the most dynamic cuts on show.
Ambassadors Departure
This reminds me of some of the sounds from Rainbow’s Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll album. It is hard rocking, but there are a lot of interesting and unusual sounds built into the tapestry of sound. This is an extensive instrumental that has Deep Purple and Dream Theater both included at various points in terms of musical reference. There are definite nods to world music sounds.
Mirage in Bahrain
Here’s another powerful tune. This is one that could fit well into progressive rock. It’s hard edged and those Deep Purple references are still valid, but the keyboards bring it into territory that’s closer to Dream Theater and other progressive rock. There a lot of world music textures built into this one, but that certainly works given the title. There are some vocals on this that are processed to resemble a synthetic voice. While I can appreciate the effect, I don’t like it. The killer Eastern tinged jam that takes the cut out, though, is a real winner.  
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