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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hans Spitzen


Review by Gary Hill

This is a good album that, with a bit of work, could have been a great album. The music here is exceptionally well done progressive rock. The only real problem is the vocals. At best they tend to feel a little awkward. At worst they go off key (particularly on the first song). Had Hans Spitzen recruited a different singer, worked a bit more at getting his singing nuanced better or just gone with instrumentals, this would be an incredible album. At it is, it’s still pretty darned good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Neptune’s Exile

The sounds of the ocean open this. After a time keyboards bring it into being from there. This works out to a cool jam that’s part fusion, part electronic music and part melodic progressive rock. This cut is a powerhouse from a musical point of view. It’s well constructed and has some exceptional musical moments. The real problem is the vocals. At times they are definitely off-key. That makes this a less than great experience. Still, the music is strong enough to make up for those instances. It would be a heck of a lot stronger, though, if he managed to stay on key throughout the song. I do like the balance between mellower and more rocking moments. The closing jam on this is particularly soaring and powerful. We get the ocean again at the end. This piece is almost eleven minutes in length.

No Strings Attached
A piano based arrangement brings this one in, and the cut grows outward from that point. It works out from there into a smoking hot jam that’s part prog rock and part fusion. In a lot of ways this powerhouse instrumental makes me think of something Rick Wakeman might have done. It’s one of the strongest pieces here, really.
What I Would Give
The opening segment here has a classical structure with electronic keyboards creating the sound. That gives way to an acoustic guitar treatment that’s both intricate and effective. This is ballad-like. The vocals here are not perfect, but they work much better than those on the opener. There is a more rocking movement, and afterward it drops back for a guitar solo driven instrumental section. The soloing on that makes me think of Dire Straits quite a bit. The piece works to another rocking prog movement from there. This maintains the balance between mellower and more rocking until the closing jam that really takes it into some full throttle high energy progressive rock instrumental territory.
Symphonic Sketches
As you might guess from the title, there is a lot of classical music built into this number. It’s a classy instrumental piece. I love the piano on the number, but everything here works so well. It’s an intriguing piece that has some nice shifts and changes.
The Time of My Life
Piano brings this one into being, and the vocals come over the top in a balladic type arrangement. The cut grows fairly slowly and organically out into a real rocking prog jam after a while. Again, the later sections really exceed.
Touching the Darkness
Another that starts quite mellow, piano drives the first parts of this, too. This is quite a potent ride, really. It has some great shifts and changes and grows into some exceptional prog jams at times.


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