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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


High Heat & Chin Music

Review by Gary Hill

This is a double disc retrospective from Dreadnaught. It includes music from their various releases. This is from a few years back, so their latest album isn’t included here, though. I’ve reviewed several of these tracks when I did my review of one of their CDs. So, for the sake of consistency the track reviews for those are copied or adapted for use here. This is quite a good introduction to a unique progressive rock outfit. This isn’t the 1970s brand of progressive rock. Nor is it the metallic prog practiced by a lot of modern progressive rock acts. It certainly has ties to the first, though. Whatever you call it, call it “exciting.”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Disc One – High Heat
Three Things
Coming in quite hard rocking, this gets alternated with a mellower sort of melodic meets world music bit. The more powered up sections on this make me think of Rush at times and fusion at others. It seems to be constantly shifting to mellower stuff, with a folk music meets classical section take it at one point.   
This one comes in bluesy and then shifts to fast paced fun prog that feels a bit like Sugarloaf at times. It gets quite frantic and even feels a little like Frank Zappa for a time, then the earlier segment returns.    
R. Daneel Olivaw
Melodic and a bit quirky, this definitely makes me think of Frank Zappa quite a bit. It’s bouncy and feels just a little silly somehow. I think it reminds me most of “Peaches en Regalia.”
Royal Jelly
Dixie Dregs is a valid reference point here. There is a southern rock meets country element, but it’s also got a lot of fusion in the mix. There are sections that work toward more mainstream progressive rock, too. This has some particularly distinctive and flavorful guitar work. There is a mellower movement around the two and a half minute mark that definitely feels like jazz. That section gets completed by an almost metallic romp. Then it works back to the mellow modes and the cut continues by alternating those two concepts. Some powerhouse King Crimson like jamming occurs for a short time later. Then more melodic stuff joins before they turn it to something that, in a different context, would be heavy metal. We’re brought back into melodic prog turned fusion from there.
Rats and Me
Beginning mellow, the violin brings in the countryish textures as the vocals enter. The overall feeling here is of an alternative rock sort of take on prog stylings such as Spock's Beard. It evolves into a good solid prog jam before dropping down to nearly unaccompanied piano for a time. It stops rather abruptly.
(She Got The) Bony Cleave
This is perhaps not progressive rock. It is, however, a bouncy rocker that’s a lot of fun. It’s high energy and really just party music.   
Gulf of Tonkin
Here is another that definitely makes me think of Zappa. It’s fast paced and a little crazy. It’s bouncy and has some moments of metallic crunch.
The Boston Crab
Mellow jazz guitar breathes this one into being. It begins to evolve from there as a definite fusion based entity. It’s slow moving. It explodes into some guitar hero like jamming around the one minute mark, but the tempo is reasonably unchanged. That alters into the faster realm after a time and the cut just keeps evolving with more melodic fusion and other things emerging here and there. If you don’t like where this one is at ever, you just have to wait, because it keeps changing. There is some country influence here at times, some mainstream rock and lots more.
Tiny Machines
This instrumental is very much a fusion styled number. It has some particularly inspired guitar soloing, but perhaps the bass line is even more impressive. There are hints of things like Dixie Dregs built into this for sure. The retro keyboard sounds are a cool touch, too.
Starting in a guitar-based mode that feels a little Steve Howeish, this one becomes a pretty solid rocker that is rather catchy. In fact this one is very accessible and fun yet still holds some musical surprises. There is a recurring sedate and somewhat pretty piece.
Kazak, The Hound of Space
This short piece is a chaotic and rather noisy piano solo.
One Trick Pony
I like this one a lot. It has a great retro lounge music meets jazz kind of sound. It’s just plain fun. 
Nag Champ-a-Laya (Live)
Starting with a frantic fusion section, this is a pretty crazed piece. There are things here that make me think of acts as diverse as King’s X, Primus and King Crimson. It drops down around the four minute marks for a mellower section that serves as a bit of a respite from the craziness that preceded it. As that carries forward, it threatens to intensify. When it finally does, it’s in a very fusion meets Crimson kind of movement.
Derby Days
A bass groove begins the track, then a bluesy sort of jam ensues. This includes vocals and runs in a mode that is sort of alternative rock take on prog. Frantic jamming ensues late in the piece, and then a jazzy section takes over. This becomes a killer jam for a time, and then gets more chaotic before the vocals return. A triumphant sounding prog segment carries in next, getting a bit Kansasish at times. A false ending leads into an atmospheric ambient segment that gets pretty weird. Then it evolves into chaos and dissonance before jumping into a killer down-home prog jam.
Disc Two: Chin Music
A hard-edged droning starts this one off. The track begins building on that format with jazz oriented overtones, and this becomes a frantic, quirky, unpredictable and very fun jam. It shifts gear for a time to a melodic sort of old-fashioned tune with a definite country tinge. This contradiction of sounds is quite intriguing, and the band really rocks out on this track
There’s a lot of mainstream alternative rock built into this beast. It’s one of the most accessible numbers here. It’s fun stuff. The instrumental section is pretty crazed and very prog, though.
The Drill
I love the bass sound at the start of this. There is a real surf guitar kind of sound to this. It’s a killer instrumental. It is fast paced and quirky. While pretty short, it manages to get some changes run through.  
Here’s another that’s very much like a mainstream alternative rocker. There is some country in the mix, too. It’s bouncy and fun. It does work out to some rather fusion-like things at times. There is a section later that’s more fast paced pure progressive rock. It even works towards RIO in the more chaotic parts of that.
The Jester's Theme (Live)
Drums open this. In fact, almost the first half minute is a drum solo. From there, this starts into a smoking hot, retro-tinged, jazz groove. There are moments as it evolves where the guitar thoroughly screams. It works towards chaos around the two minute mark. Then a fast paced jam with a lot of world music takes it.
James Thresher Industries Building Solid Careers in Middle Management Since 1976
This is a quirky jam with Crimsonesque leanings. At just under a minute this instrumental is certainly brief and one of the few songs around to include kazoo.      
This starts in a hard-edged prog jam mode and quickly begins building on that format, jamming all around the basic themes. An instrumental, it gets quite lush in its arrangement at times. There are some pretty crazed sections as this thing continues to evolve. It is basically fusion, but with a lot of rock built into it. There are moments that seem pretty close to King Crimson.
Jazzy elements are paired with more alternative rock type stuff on this number. It’s a rocker. Lyrically, it feels like something Frank Zappa would do. It’s closer musically to something like King’s X, though.
Noise starts this one, then a bluesy metallic segment takes over and the song rocks forward. It is another alternative rock take on prog and features a tasty guitar solo in its instrumental break. A playful old record sound takes the number for a time. Then another good rocking jam comes out of that. It is another that feels a bit like Kansas. This ends with scratched record type sounds.
There are some great retro sounds built into this. It’s probably equal parts fusion and rock music. 
The Elevator Chaser
Jazz, world music and alternative rock are all mixed on this. There’s a cool jam that feels like it has some country music, too. This is quirky, bouncy and fun. I’d say that it has as much in common with things like Camper Van Beethoven as it does with progressive rock. It really does get into some bluegrass in some of the instrumental passages, too.
There is a prominent rhythm section here, but in a lot of ways this is atmospheric. As it grows out it works toward more jazz like elements. The bass and the drums are both quite forward in the mix. This is  a little weird, but also very cool.
Clean Up Your Act Son
Another bouncy little number, this is fun. It reminds me a lot of early Pink Floyd at times. Still, King’s X and alternative rock are both also valid reference points. There is definitely a lot of psychedelia here. When it works out to a screaming, chaotic section it makes me think of early Alice Cooper.     
Women Are Kryptonite (Live)
There is definitely a fun rocking sound to this. It’s a party rocker with lots of prog in the mix. There is some seriously crazed guitar soloing near the end of this.
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