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Intelligent Music Project VII

Unconditioned

Review by Gary Hill

This act is always so confusing because with each album it seems they take on a new name. with each new album. Looking at their website, it appears they go by just the "Intelligent Music Project" moniker, but since all the others have been done the other way at MSJ, I've done this one that way, too, for the sake of consistency. Besides, it's what it says on the spine. Now, I've always included the act under prog, but were it not for the connection to the other releases, I probably wouldn't have put this one there. It's more metal and mainstream rock in a lot of ways. Still, because of the previous catalog and the fact that there is some prog here, I landed it under that heading. The thing is, no matter the category it's placed under, this is a solid album and a good addition to the catalog, despite the unusual naming conventions.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Topic
A short burst of understated sound gives way to a killer, technical prog jam that has elements of heavy metal built into them. It turns out to a full AOR meets melodic metal jam from there. They take it through a number of killer twists and turns with the proggier angles getting more pronounced at times. This instrumental piece is s strong opening salvo.
Intention
Now, this rocker has a real metal edge to it. In some ways this makes me think of something Scorpions might do. It's a solid tune, but not that proggiest thing here. It has some great hooks and some AOR prog elements at times. The short fast-paced break later brings an almost technical metal vibe.
Sunshine Boulevard
Here we get another AOR tune. This still has some definite metal edges to it. It feels more like a power ballad and some of the proggier things on the song come in as layers of the top of the dropped back movements. There are some bluesy guitar angles at times (in terms of soloing) that make me think of Joe Bonamassa at times.
How
I love the piano as this gets underway. This is another with a balladic approach to it. While still mainstream in nature, this has more of a proggy angle. It has some great acoustic guitar work, too. This is evocative and satisfying and one of the highlights for me.
Blue Morning
Now, this powerhouse does a good job of merging a metal edge with a mainstream prog angle. I'm reminded a little of Queensrÿche in some ways. Overall, this is another standout tune.
Soulmate
An intricate mellow guitar arrangement is augmented by a multi-layered vocal part. This cut grows out into one of the proggiest things here. It's got some jazzy tones to it, and is on the mellower end of the spectrum in the early sections. It drives out later into more fierce rock at times, making this another that lands along the power-ballad end of the spectrum. They do bring it into some more pure metal zones later along the road.
The Long Ride
Here we get another metallic rocker. This has some of that Scorpions thing at play, too. That said, there are some definite proggy elements at play at times here, too. The mellower movement brings both that prog thing and some jazz angles. The guitar solo is technical and fierce.
Madness
This is a very unusual number. It has a lot of old styled music including cafe style stuff. There are things that feel a bit like classic Eagles music, too. All in all, this is one of the proggier and most unique things here. It has some intriguing twists and turns and is always effective.
And Stars Never Fall
Here is another AOR rocker that leans toward metal. This has some cool twists and turns, but overall seems a bit less creative than some of the other things here.
Spirit
Piano starts this number. The vocals come in over that backdrop. This builds up, but only so much. It's on the more melodic and proggy side of the equation. It's still of the mainstream variety, though. It's a classy number that brings some variety to the set.
Wait for the Night
Here we get another that's decidedly heavy metal oriented. Of course, it's on the AOR side of that label.
New Hero
Intricate, complex and proggy, this is one of the highlights of the set. It has a definite ballad angle to it.
Finale Grande
This might be the best song of the whole disc. It's a powerhouse with all kinds of twists and turns. The metal and AOR elements are still here, but they are less pronounced. This gets decidedly proggy. As strong as this is, I have to wonder about the wisdom of including the bonus tracks. This would have made a much more powerful ending to the album.
Bonus Tracks:
                         
Intention (Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Version)

Here we get a mainstream rock meets metal take on the earlier tune. This might seem more mainstream in some ways. It's a solid track.

Intention (Singback)

This version of the tune feels even more pop rock based. It's not terrible, but probably the weakest and most generic thing here. That tells you how strong the album as a whole is.

 

 
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