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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

THEO

Figureheads

Review by Gary Hill

I previously reviewed another set from this act. As good as that album is, I'd have to say that this surpasses it. It seems meatier. The four songs here all of extensive duration. The blend of sounds here works through a good range, but I'd say that this album leans less on newer sounds, and more on combining more classic elements in fresh and new ways than the other set did.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Pathology
The sounds of birds and nature bring this into being, rising up ever gradually. Piano comes in as accompaniment for that backdrop after a time. Other keyboards are the next instruments to join. Eventually a fully rocking prog arrangement takes over. Some keyboards dance over the top. It becomes quite a driving rocker from there. The vocals come in over that backdrop as this drives onward. This is hard-edged with some hints of alternative rock built into it. The cut gets into a soulful dropped back movement later, though. It seems strange, but this is the second shortest piece here at almost ten-and-a-half minutes of music. They make good use of that space, twisting and turning and reinventing things. The cut has some great contrasts. I love the cool keyboard laden melodic jam around the eight-and-a-half-minute mark. It really shines.
Man of Action
Starting with sounds that seem like something from a political rally, killer guitar rises upward from there. After that winds through for a time, it drops back to a bass-led jam. As the keyboards enter I'm reminded of Pink Floyd's Wall album. The vocals bring a bit of a soulful, jazzy element that calls to mind some of Frank Zappa's work to me in some ways. This becomes a powerhouse movement that really merges some soulful jazz stylings with progressive rock as it keeps moving forward. There are some powered up moments along the road. This gets into some pretty crazed and driving zones around the five-and-a-half-minute mark. The cut keeps shifting, growing and evolving. A section after the six-and-a-half-minute mark makes me think of the proggy side of Styx. The eventually morphs into a powerhouse, soaring prog jam. Keyboards really bring a lot of the magic to that section of the piece as it keeps driving forward. A dropped back piano-led movement later is a nice touch and respite from the more intense sections. It also includes some particularly pretty piano work. That eventually evolves into a melodic prog movement. It grows into more of a powered up prog jam that eventually takes it to the closing.
The Garden
At just under ten-minutes of music, this is the shortest piece here. It comes in with a mellower jazzy arrangement that lands around fusion zones. The cut works out from there, keeping with the concept as it does. The piece continues to grow and evolve, eventually working out into a fusion-oriented jam that has some great melodic prog built into it. After that instrumental movement we're brought back to the earlier section for the re-entry of the vocals. The cut builds back outward before it eventually peaks and drops back to just piano. There is a very slow building process from there in the mellowest passage of the number. That concept holds the track for the rest of the duration, but it does intensify and more keyboard layers drive it.
Portents & Providence
The opening pomp of this makes me think of mid-70s Genesis to a large degree. At 16:48, this is the epic of a set that consists of four epic-length songs. It eventually works out into a rather jazzy kind of prog jam from the entrance of the vocals. There is some killer guitar work in a short solo later. I also love the keyboard soloing. Everyone really gets a chance to show off in a very fusion-like arrangement as the piece keeps building. Then it shifts gears to a more pure prog rock jam with unusual timing from there. It gets pretty heavy and hard rocking as it continues. It works to a jam that a real Deep Purple turned prog kind of sound at its core for a time. Eventually this makes its way to a jam that again calls to mind Genesis. That section takes the track (and the album) to its closing.

 

 
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