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Progressive Rock CD Reviews



Review by Gary Hill

It should be noted here (for the sake of full disclosure) that Music Street Journal writer John Pierpoint plays bass in this band. That said, this is an unbiased review. I’d have to say that I like this disc quite a bit, but it’s not without its problems. For one thing, the vocals are often a little hard to take. When they work, they call to mind John Wetton. Sometimes, though, they seem to miss the mark by just a little. Also some of the instrumental movements here just feel a little clunky. Now, let me point out, though, both of those complaints are pretty minor. They need to be mentioned as they (along with a couple moments where the production feels a little lackluster) are the things that keep this from landing into the “incredibly great” category. It’s still very good and none of those things detract from this being a satisfying listening experience. I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic progressive rock. That said, some of the prog purists might have a little problem with a couple moments that lean towards metal. I’d say, “just suck it up and enjoy. This ride is well worth it.”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Mourning Song

A classical piece is played amidst the sounds of a scratched record. This short introduction does a nice job of setting things up for a triumphant entrance. It powers from there with a real flair for the dramatic. It’s a hard rocking progressive rock jam that seems to touch on Yes, Genesis and other prog groups. It drops down to a mellower movement and a melodic guitar solos over the top. There’s a crescendo to end this instrumental before the two and a half minute mark.

Brick by Brick Parts I and II
Picked guitar sounds open this with an almost folk music vibe. The vocals come in, adding to that vibe. Eventually this gives way to a harder rocking jam. This one isn’t the most proggy thing on display here, but there are some moments that are decidedly progressive rock oriented. For instance, the keyboard dominated instrumental section around the minute and a half mark is full on prog. Around the three and a half minute mark we get an intricate section based on picked guitar. That movement definitely makes me think of old Genesis at times. It’s quite pretty and quite effective.
Brueton Park
Powering in a bit like Dream Theater, this shifts to a jam that could easily pass for heavy metal. Keyboards over the top lend an almost fusion vibe to it. After the minute and a half mark it turns to an acoustic guitar based section. The vocals (more effective than on the previous piece) come over the top of this backdrop and the whole thing starts to build out from there. After building up into a pretty hard rocking movement, it seems to end. Then mellower sounds emerge to move this forward. That grows out, too, though and some killer melodic guitar soloing comes over the top. After that whole thing works through, becoming quite a powerful progressive rock jam, a short bit of metallic music ends the piece.
The Game
Mellower sounds open things here. Some of the best vocals of the set (with some great backup adding to that arrangement) enter. The evolution of this cut is steady, but also gradual. Melodic guitar rises up later to take this cut through its final evolution. At less than five minutes in length, this is one of the least dynamic cuts here. That said, it’s also one of the most effective and evocative.
Brick by Brick Part III
Melodic progressive rock drives this tune. It’s only about a minute and a half long.
Keyboard sounds open things here and it works out gradually from there. Then a melodic, but crunchy, guitar rises up to move this forward. Around the one minute mark it turns to a rather ominous feeling movement. The vocals come in and the cut continues to evolve. The ominous nature fades down after a time, but returns at various points. There is a cool section mid-track with some spoken vocals. There is a tasty harder rocking section at the end.
The Fourth Wall
This starts with a fairly mellow movement. Gary Sheridan delivers his most Wetton-like vocals of the whole disc. In fact, the vocals on this track are the most effective ones here. When it powers out it still has an AOR type sound. I’d have to say that this reminds me quite a bit of something Asia might do. Mind you, it wouldn’t sound exactly like this if Asia did it, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine them playing a song like this one. A multi-vocalist driven segment later in the track is a nice touch. The guitar solo segment, with its real rock and roll edge is also worth noting. It’s got an almost southern rock meets jam band sound to it. That section eventually fades down to end the cut.
Although this gets some more energy later, this is more or less a progressive rock ballad (at least until around the three and a half minute mark). Comparisons to Asia wouldn’t be out of the question here, either. This gets worked out to a smoking hot jam later that’s almost fusion in nature. Eventually that movement peaks and the song is reborn back in the melodic stylings.
Brick by Brick Part IV: Square The Circle
Coming in with more of a melodic classic rock vibe, this is one of the cooler of the “Brick by Brick” pieces. It has an accessible hook and some cool instrumental moments. I particularly like the organ solo.
Mourning’s End
This feels quite sad. It’s also mellow, dramatic and pretty. There are some keyboard parts that sound almost like a theremin, and I’m a big fan of theremin so that’s a bonus. This drops down to the same sort of scratchy record sounds that started the disc to serve as a nice bookend.
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