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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alien Parachute Man

Heat of the Land

Review by Gary Hill

Heat of the Land is a deceptively unique album. At first glance, Tool is probably the most obvious reference. In fact, with just one spin, it might be the only reference one gets. There’s a lot more going on than that, though. The disc seems to be somewhat of a concept album, with a concept that seems to be a criticism of religion. It has a lot of modern progressive rock tendencies and comparisons to Radiohead are not out of the question at times.

This group shows that they have a lot of musical chops here. The way they take rather complex arrangements and make them feel accessible is impressive. This is a talented band that should have a bright future, despite the gloominess of their sound.

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

Track by Track Review

This is just a short (roughly a minute in length) introductory piece that is essentially just sound-effects. It literally ramps up the intensity. 

“Abstention” pounds in heavy and aggressive. It’s got a lot of modern metal with epic metal built into it. Mid-track, though, they drop it down to a vocal driven segment that’s melodic and intriguing. It powers back up from there, that mellower section basically serving as an interlude.
With “Myopic” they turn things mellower and more melodic. It’s an interesting cut that feels a lot like Tool. It gets harder rocking, but is still much less aggressive and heavy than the previous number.
The Words to Say
A more pop metal element is heard on “The Words to Say.” This isn’t far removed from a lot of the music of nu-metal bands, but there is also an echoey kind of Tool sound in the mix. This might be similar to some nu-metal, pop music, but it’s a lot more interesting and developed than that. There’s certainly more here than on similar music. One might even make out some Radiohead as the arrangement gets more layers added onto it. In many ways, this is one of the most interesting pieces of the set and the vocal arrangement is part of that because it’s unusual and has an almost grunge element to it at times.
No One
An acoustic guitar based section opens “No One.” It’s another that’s more melodic. There are hints of psychedelia built into the arrangement and in many ways, it’s like some of the modern neo-progressive rock music. Certainly there are hints of Radiohead on this, too. It’s another that tends to show the range this group has. The vocal arrangement has some interesting hooks and this is the mellowest number to this point on the set (as long as you don’t consider the opening intro).
2 Sugars
This sounds all the more aggressive coming after the mellowest tune of the set. It pounds in with a killer riff based arrangement. This is much more based on modern metal, but there are mellower sections (including one that’s keyboard dominated) that bring contrast to the piece. This one would certainly earn a parental advisory warning for the lyrics.
Some Days
“Some Days” brings the disc back into Tool-like territory. Parts of this hold the piece in some of the mellowest modes of the album. It’s got a lot of drama built into the vocal arrangement and the musical tapestry is deceptively complex. This one probably fits more into a progressive rock territory than metal. It’s one of the highlights of the set. The first half is moody and dark, but also very pretty. When they shift out into harder rocking modes later in the piece, this becomes one of the most dynamic cuts on the CD. That heavier section also reinforces the Tool comparisons.
In some ways, “Floater” represents a combination of all the varied influences of the disc. It’s arguably more grunge than anything else. Still, it’s not that far removed from some of the moodier music from Tool. Also, there is a lot of modern progressive rock in the arrangement, particularly in the jazzy interlude segment. This is one of the best cuts of the disc, despite the fact that on cursory examination it seems understated. There is a lot going on in this track, yet it remains accessible.
February Son
This starts with the most blatantly progressive rock oriented section of the whole set. After the first vocal motif percussion dominates the piece for a while. From there it powers out to more typical modern metal.
Hymn for a Heathen
With an involved acoustic arrangement opening it, “Hymn for a Heathen” moves out to a bouncy, acoustic based jam that’s got some psychedelia and some folk music built into the arrangement. The number is the “most different” number on show. The lyrics are likely to earn some ire with the religious people in the audience, but it’s an intriguing cut. Again, it should get a parental advisory. There’s a cool little world music bit that ends it.
Walk Away
Melodic Tool-like sounds open this. That sound is built upon to create the verse section. Then it powers out to heavier, more modern metal motifs for the chorus and the two sounds are alternated and built upon as the piece continues. A cool section later seems to combine the Tool sounds with jam music and even a little jazz. This is another strong piece that is also one of the more dynamic on show.
“Conversations” continues the same basic musical themes. It’s got an arrangement that alternates between melodic sections and riff driven harder rocking ones. There’s almost a symphonic air to the layers of sound that augment this.
Without You
“Without You” is more purely heavy and riff driven at the onset, but there is a more melodic movement that offsets that sound. In fact, the melodic modes are really the dominant feature of this cut. The basic musical modes here aren’t all that different from the rest of the set, but this is not redundant at all. At over six and a half minutes in length, it’s the longest number on show and another that earns a parental advisory.
This closes the disc, and it’s an odd little number that’s basically a piece of old time music, at first feeling like a cartoon and then seeming like something from the 1800s. It makes a nice bookend with “G-D” and somewhat religious nature of the lyrics, it seems like that’s intentional with the “-O-” seeming like a title clue to its positioning among the other letters.
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