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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Cardinal Points

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a tasty album. Classic progressive rock merges with modern prog sounds. At times it’s like space rock, at other points I hear Rick Wakeman. Fusion shows up here and there. It’s varied in terms of volume and intensity and is just a great album all the way around.

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Track by Track Review
Carved in Stone
Sound effects and atmospherics dance around one another as this starts. The vocals come in over a percussive version of that concept. As more keyboards and other sounds join later it leans towards space rock. Eventually this powers out into more of a pure modern progressive rock arrangement. Even so, bits of Celtic music emerge here and there in the track. They take us through a number of changes and alterations and a jam late in the piece is very much classic progressive rock. At over 18 minutes in length, this is the longest cut on the disc, but everything here qualifies as epic. It’s one heck of a ride.
Whisper on the Wind
Effects open this, then it threatens to power out into something like Hawkwind. From there, though, it turns to more progressive rock that’s in keeping with what we’ve heard to this point. After a time, they drop it down to a slow moving, mellower jam that’s very dramatic and features some tasty guitar soloing. That section builds out as the guitar gets meaner and crunchier. It certainly starts to resemble Hawkwind again at times during this instrumental exploration. It works back out to the opening section as it continues and then they ride it back out again. A mellow section later in the track has space rock elements wandering over the top as the bass creates an almost fusion-like jam in the background. Keyboards turn in some killer jamming as they power it back out. There’s definitely a classic prog meets fusion sound in that segment, along with some world music. 
Spark to a Flame
At just short of fourteen minutes in length, this is the shortest tune on the disc. After a quick bit of sound effects, vocals open it acapella. They power it out shortly in a riff driven jam that is very much in a modern prog meets old school. There are frequent changes and alterations as this continues. It’s a heck of a ride until it drops back to just keyboards around the six minute mark. Vocals come over the top in a balladic motif and it carries on with that stripped back arrangement for a while. Eventually it builds out to a section that’s electronic in instrumentation but rather symphonic in construction. It’s also quite dramatic. After a time it rocks back out. Later in the number there is some killer melodic guitar soloing. It evolves into some seriously cool instrumental jamming. The vocals return after that to take it out.
Drop in the Ocean
Starting with mellow prog, this eventually builds out to more rocking sounds. There are some keyboard bits around the three minute mark that make me think of Rick Wakeman a bit. Still, it’s interspersed with some nearly metallic guitar riffing. We get a large number of changes and explorations as they continue. They make great use of contrasting harder rocking sounds with mellower ones. This is a killer dynamic ride that seems a bit more restful than some of the other music here, but still manages to rock out hard and fast at times. Around the nine minute mark it drops back to an extremely mellow section that has a very old-world, balladic feeling to it. Electronic atmospheric sounds emerge from there serving as the backdrop for the next vocals. Eventually that gives way to a classic prog section from which it builds. Rather than fully coming up in that motif, though, a crunchy guitar takes it into the next section and the vocals take on a more soaring quality as a modern progressive rock sound is heard. A melodic movement eventually takes it out.
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