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Five Stars Above

Review by Gary Hill

I really love this album so much. I know a lot of people call this heavy metal, and that is absolutely valid, I consider it more of a metallic progressive rock set. There is quite a bit of range of sound along the road, and everything here works so well. Whatever you call this, it's all class.

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Track by Track Review
Dear Universe
The spacey vibe that opens this makes me think of early Pink Floyd. The cut grows out to a more standard AOR prog ballad approach as it works outward from there. We get some heavier, metallic stuff further down the road. This gets soaring as it continues. It works through a number of changes in a rather complex and decidedly proggy arrangement. I love some of the passages here so much. A cool riffing takes over at the end, moving it firmly into metallic prog zones. That segues into the next track.
Masterpiece of Life
There is a lot of metal in the mix here. It's of the technical, epic variety. While this remains more metallic than the opener was, it's packed full of prog twists and turns. There are definite Rushish things at play on this at times. At nearly nine-minutes of music, they have plenty of room to explore on this track, and they use it well. There is a cool melodic metal guitar solo. We get more Floydian elements and even some thrashy moments. This is well-titled because it really is a complex and dynamic masterpiece.
Dear Man on Earth
There is a definite Floydian vibe as this gets underway. It drives forward with a lot of style and charm. It's metallic, but also deeply AOR prog based. The arrangement gets quite symphonic at times.
A ticking clock starts this. The cut has a symphonic element at play. The mellow modes are dominated by piano on the introduction. It turns to a sedate, classically tinged prog arrangement as it works forward. As it approaches the two-minute mark this turns heavy and driving. This cut gets pretty intense and metal-based, yet it has a real symphonic vibe to it.
The Space Man
Percussion gets things going here. The track builds outward from there to more of a rocking concept that merges both prog and metal concepts. It has a real AOR angle to it.
I Don't Care
]While on the one hand, this is more decidedly metal, it also has plenty of prog built into it. I suppose comparisons to Dream Theater might be appropriate at times. It also has plenty of epic metal at play. The guitar soloing on this is decidedly metal, and often of the technical variety.
Cross the Mirror
This number is decidedly progressive rock based. It has some killer bass work and an intriguing rhythmic structure. It's also meaty and gets some metallic things added to the mix later. This thing gets pretty intense at times. Piano takes over at one point mid-track, and then a dramatic and driving section takes over from there. It eventually works back out to the song proper. Powerhouse prog metal jamming takes over at the end.
My Own Sacrifice
Running 15-and-a-half minutes, this is the epic of the disc. This comes in with a real folk prog vibe and begins to gradually build out from there. It drops back after the first vocal movement, and the bass takes control. Then we get some metallic concepts brought to the mix. The bass gets pretty funky, and the vocals turn decidedly dramatic. There are definitely some world music sounds at play here, too. This becomes such a cool epic metal-based tune. It continues to evolve as they explore the space. A bass dominated mellow movement later is so classy and cool. It grows organically into more of a melodic metal meets prog approach. An instrumental jam takes over after that has run through that makes me think of Rush to some degree. The cut shifts toward space music after that part is done. This continues to evolve and grow. New sections emerge and themes are reintroduced. This is another masterpiece.
An evocative ballad concept is on the menu here as this gets underway. It gets intensified later, making it a power ballad, but of the prog variety. This gets pretty involved at times, and really does cover a lot of territory, at times turning more metallic.

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