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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Under the Psycamore


Review by Gary Hill

Labeling this with just one genre title would be easy – progressive rock. There are a lot of different sounds within that scope, though. Part of the disc is instrumental, but most of it has vocals. Overall, this is more modern progressive rock with a leaning towards alternative rock, but there are nods to classic prog, too. Whatever way you label this, though, it’s a killer album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
The Owls (A.N.W.T.S)

Pretty acoustic guitar elements, intricate and powerful open this and hold it. Other elements are heard, but mostly threatening to rise up and take over from this lovely guitar sound. Then around the two minute mark (this instrumental is just over two and a half minutes in length) it powers out to some crunchier progressive rock to continue.
Beyond the Fire, Pt. 1
Coming out of the previous piece, acoustic guitar again leads the way and we’re moving into a different melodic progression. There are waves of melody woven over the top of the backdrop as this slowly builds outward, but that intricate guitar really does steal the show here.
Beyond the Fire, Pt. 2
As one might guess from the title, this continues the previous number, bringing it more into a rock motif. The first vocals are heard here and the opening sections are more along the lines of the modern alternative rock based progressive rock. It gets some serious hard edges beyond that, though and this thing works really well. They take it through some changes and alterations with different moods and tones dominating at different points.
Starting mellow, this works out tentatively and grows out into some melodic modern progressive rock. While this is not exceptionally dynamic in terms of differing volume levels, it’s still quite dynamic and diverse. This is great melodic progressive rock that’s quite modern in tone.
The Gatherer
This starts intricate, organic and pretty, but also quite understated and mellow. As it grows out it seems to me, at times, like Radiohead meets Gabriel era Genesis. Around the four and a half minute mark it gets transformed into a dramatic and powerful arrangement that has a lot of mystery and drama built into it. Around the six and a half minute mark a false ending leads to a mellower motif that rises up gradually.  A cool melodic jam emerges from there taking it in almost a jazz-like direction before it drops away to near silence for the end of the piece.
This rises up as one of the hardest rocking jams of the whole disc. There’s a lot of “oomph” built into this beast. After an extended introduction, it drops down to mellow motifs and the first vocals come in over the top of that. It works out in an intricate, folky kind of arrangement. It powers back up beyond that into a hard rocking alternative rock meets progressive jam with some crunch packed into it for good measure. It continues the contrast between mellower and harder rocking by dropping back down to a more sedate movement beyond that point. One of the most mainstream movements comes in later as a rocking kind of jam with multiple layers of vocals.
As this come in, it feels like a continuation of the mellower motifs of the last track. That said, this one moves out from there into a distinct entity. It has one of the heaviest jams of the set, but also one of the prettiest drop backs in a really mellow movement. The contrast between the two repeating moods is awesome and this might be the real highlight of the set. Around the four minute mark it shifts towards mellow sounds with a rather jazzy arrangement, but that gives way to a very crunchy jam. This continues evolving and changing as various movements rise up to take control. There’s a section that has a real Spanish feeling to it.
Remember Me
Weird sounds open this and then the acoustic guitar rises up from there and the piece gradually builds out from there. Before the minute and a half mark it gets an infusion of crunch and works forward. One of the heaviest sections of the disc emerges later, but it drops back from there into a dreamy kind of prog jam that’s quite cool and quite mellow. Further down the road, when it fires out again to harder rocking territory it almost shifts towards fusion. Then it drops down to a mellow building movement. That gets reworked into more hard rocking sounds, though. That section takes it to the closing.
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