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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Gabriel Construct

Interior City

Review by Gary Hill

This is a pretty diverse ride. It leans pretty heavily toward rather noisy, almost RIO styled progressive rock. For my money, it’s a bit too chaotic and crazed. That said, I’m not a huge fan of that style of music. Even so, I can hear some greatness in this. And, there are plenty of prog heads who dig that more RIO styled sound and will probably love this. These guys are great musicians and this is a powerful and unique piece of music. That much is certain.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
Arrival in a Distant Land

From the opening moments (harp?) it seems we’re about to launch into a mysterious and magical adventure here. The movement from there is slow with little bits of music creating a non-linear bit of atmosphere that hints at greatness to come. Piano brings some different weirdness as the cut keeps developing in a very freeform and non-descript way. Then around the two and a half minute mark that piano starts to build the first real melody we’ve heard. There is almost a jazz feeling to it, but it’s still got moments of random weirdness as it moves forward. The vocals come in after a time, but the song doesn’t grow in leaps and bounds, but rather remains rather stripped back and tentative. It eventually turns to a jazz-oriented piano and vocal melody that’s a little on the “over the top” side. The piano takes it into some dramatic dissonance beyond there. Eventually it all dissolves out into space.

Ranting Prophet

Piano opens things here and the vocals come in over the top. The first verse is delivered in that style. Then the band joins and the whole thing is powered out into a slightly chaotic, rather Eastern toned jam that’s quite dramatic and powerful. This is a great piece of music. It alternates between harder rocking and mellower motifs, but different modes and visions are presented in those positions. It gets quite noisy at times. There are bits that call to mind King Crimson, but other parts that bring references to thinks like Green Milk from the Planet Orange. There are even some sections that have some links (mostly rhythmic) to extreme metal. I love the violin that shows up later, too.

Fear of Humanity

Sound effects and mellow music is merged with some rather operatic vocals. The effect is something otherworldly, theatrical and a bit strange. There is some crunchy melodic guitar playing following the first vocal section. Then it drops back to the opening section to continue. This theatrical mode, with variations, serves as the main structure of this for quite a while. Then around the three minute mark, or so, they explode out into a more melodic progressive rock section that still has plenty of weirdness and raw energy. It’s a rather crazed powerhouse as it continues.

My Alien Father

Dramatic balladic motifs open this and the cut grows out from there. It gets to a more developed and rather strange sound as it continues. There are some almost operatic vocals. More melodic and mainstream prog is heard as this evolves, but the odd theatrical elements are still heard. As it keeps working through it gets more melodic and mainstream – and more powerful.

Retreat Underground

Vocals open this and then it launches out into a frantic jam that’s got some definite hints of metal. There are some killer progressive twists and turns built into this thing. In many ways, this is the most mainstream prog tune we’ve heard so far. It has some great changes but remains reasonably melodic and accessible throughout. It’s a fairly short piece (less than three minutes) that segues into the next one.

Subway Dwellers

Coming out of the previous tune, this one is frantic progressive rock that’s quite strong. The vocals remain a bit on the “odd” side, but otherwise this is quite mainstream. It continues in a more or less straight line before dropping down and then dissolving into spacey chaos near the end.

Defense Highway
Piano opens this and holds it for a time. Then they launch out into a more soaring prog arrangement that has a lot of fusion in the mix. This is one of the more mainstream progressive rock sounds of the set. The vocal arrangement is multilayered and quite cool. This works through several changes and alterations and is quite an intriguing movement. It gets a bit chaotic at times. There are a couple quick drop downs and then there is an almost extreme metal segment. From there it powers back out to more fast paced, but melodic progressive rock. It drops later to a very symphonic mellow progressive rock bit that feels right out of the 1970s. There’s a response to that with a noisy, almost extreme metal burst of sound. Then piano takes over for a time before they move back into the mainstream progressive rock sounds. More shifts and changes occur. Around the six minute mark it drops to just piano. It seems the song might end as there are a couple bits of silence followed by more piano. As it continues there are sections of noisier prog that emerge, but it keeps going back to the piano only sections. Finally around the nine minute mark it moves out to some fusion oriented, mainstream progressive rock from there. Eventually, though, piano takes over again at the end.
Inner Sanctum

Bounding out with killer jazzy progressive rock bombast and fury, this is one of the most effective tunes here. It works through a number of changes and moods, but somehow this feels more consistent and more like a straight line than some of the other music does. The later sections of the piece work out into some chaotic RIO-styled prog. It’s noisy, but also quite cool. This is definitely my favorite piece here.

Languishing in Lower Chakras

This comes out of the previous tune and starts with very atmospheric and quiet sounds. Eventually those atmospheric elements fade away as piano takes over. Still, that piano is tentative and sporadic and the whole piece is mellow at this point. This instrumental remains mellow and is a bit strange. There are ambient musical bits, soundbites and piano. All of it works together to create a mood that is cinematic and a little creepy. There are some non-lyrical vocals later in the cut.

Curing Somatization

Noisy jamming that feels like prog meets jazz and metal starts this out. It’s even more jarring given the mellower modes that preceded it. After some almost extreme metal vocals are heard, it drops way down to just piano with vocals. Then after a while like that they power back up to more full, and rather chaotic but still mostly melodic prog. This is quite a dynamic and diverse track. It goes through some seriously crazed and dissonant territory at times. It’s quite a journey, that’s for sure.

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