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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kevin M. Thomas

Essentials

Review by Gary Hill

The music here should appeal to fans of classically tinged progressive rock. Other than the final number, this is all instrumental. Taken song by song, it’s also very strong. Unfortunately, taken as a whole, the disc suffers from its monolithic nature. Not only are all the songs in almost the same tempo, the rhythm created from the guitar is just about interchangeable from song to song. That’s a shame because everything here is great. The art of creating an album with a variety seems to be falling by the wayside as more and more artist self produce. That might very well be a big factor in the trend of people buying one song at a time. I for one miss the days of whole albums living and breathing with peaks and valleys. Still, Thomas is talented and any of these tracks will please most classically tinged prog fans. You probably won’t find yourself sitting down and listening to the disc end to end, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
In the Hall of the Mountain King Jam Orchestral

Starting with a distortion laden guitar, this is a killer rendition of the classical piece. There aren’t a lot of surprises, but come on, you can’t go wrong with this thing.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Jam Orchestral
The main format is the same as the one that drove the opening piece. The musical impetus, though is different. It’s again a killer number that works really well.
The Song Is Mine (Electric) Orchestral Instrumental
While not drawn from classical music, and actually more pure progressive rock in nature, the overall arrangement remains pretty much the same, guitar and keyboard sounds driving the piece.
Seconds Into Sounds Orchestral Instrumental
Keyboard sounds open this and it moves out into some of the most dramatic and powerful sounds to this point. This is very much symphonic progressive rock, and of an extremely high order. It’s got some cool mysterious tones and the keyboards serve more of the guiding role here.
Absolutism Orchestral Instrumental
Another that’s more rock oriented, the tones and melodies that drive this make it one of the coolest pieces on show.
Caliente Orchestral Instrumental
Partly because of the fact that’s it’s up against the majesty of the track that proceeded it, this one has a little bit of a “more of the same” feel.
Shadow Orchestral Instrumental
Keyboards feature prominently here, but this is another point where it’s starting to feel monolithic.
Say Orchestral Instrumental
This is definitely better. It’s quite dramatic and powerful, and, although there are certainly similarities, it works better in terms of feeling fresh.
Deternment Orchestral Instrumental
Starting with keyboard sounds, the guitar really drives this in a rocking format after a short time. It’s a step back in the right direction.
433am Orchestral Instrumental
A powerful symphonic prog composition, this one feels a bit too much like the rest of the music here. That is really a shame because it’s one of the strongest pieces. By this point in the set, though, it seems to just blend into a curtain of similar music.
Afraiding Orchestral Instrumental
Space rock goes symphonic on this piece. It’s like Hawkwind done orchestrally. It’s also exactly what was needed in terms of variety here. This screams and rises up in the opening sections. Unfortunately, from there it turns into more of the same.
Agenda Orchestral Instrumental
Percussion opens this, but then the same guitar droning joins. It’s obvious we’re heading into another round that’s much too similar to everything else here. It has the same basic rhythm pattern that’s been used throughout.
Little One Live @ Xclusive 05-29-11
It’s too bad there weren’t more songs like this. It has vocals, and while it is still set in that same rhythmic pattern, the vocals provide some much needed variety.
 
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