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 John Scofield Band: Überjam by SCOFIELD, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.97 | 10 ratings

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John Scofield Band: Überjam
John Scofield Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars John Scofield established a name for himself as a jazz guitarist long before he seriously pursued a full-out solo career. He had played alongside Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny among scores of other artists and rock artists such as John Mayer and Gov't Mule. 'Uberjam' was released as The John Scofield Band and it contains several different styles of jazz influenced by electonica, funk, soul, r&b, rock and so on infused with jazz. Scofield has been known to experiment with many different styles, finding ways to meld them with jazz flavors, but sometimes has ventured far enough away from jazz to question whether he has left it all together. But he always returns. This might make you think that he is either unfocused or versatile, depending on how you look at it.

'Acidhead' starts with the psychedelic Indian sound with wordless vocals that matches the album cover. Eventually a smooth bass line and medium rhythm kicks in while guitar establishes the melody. A screechy sound counteracts the guitar as all players improvise over a funky backdrop. Nice effects and interesting sounds from the instruments turn this into an interesting opening track and prepares you for an exciting ride.

'Ideofunk' uses percussion and organ to establish the backdrop and a staccato-laden melody. A nice smooth groove eventually evokes a nice set of solos from various players including a wicked flute solo.

'Jungle Fiction' has a quick, tricky rhythm that will leave you guessing what meter it is in. But Scofield keeps a smooth guitar sound through the odd time signature which changes several times. Later, electronic and traditional drums trade off with a staccato keyboard and interesting sounding electronic effects. There is some nice and wild soloing and improvising going on in this one.

The next track takes a hip-hop funk route on 'I Brake 4 Monster Booty'. Scofield uses his signature sound effectively on this track with a heavy beat. A short rap by drummer Adam Deitch kicks in just before the 2 minute mark. I know it sounds corny, but it's actually a fun track with a lot of electronic effects that fit right in.

'Animal Farm' is a bit smoother, but has an underlying R&B drum-and-bass vibe. An interesting melody is introduced with a layered guitar that has a dissonant harmony. This also ventures into a bit of an experimental territory. There is a shaky sax riff in there too.

'Offspring' is a bit more conventional as far as a jazz fusion vibe, but with enough surprises of it's own to keep everything fresh. It has a Herbie Hancock feel at least in its interplay with an almost acid jazz format. This one also features one of the best guitar solos on the album, fast, quick and catchy. Later there is a quick percussion solo with some processed vocals.

'Tomorrow Land' slows the pace somewhat, with a softer rhythm section and a nice mellow jazz guitar. The track maintains the easy groove allowing Scofield to improvise freely.

Next is the title track 'Uberjam'. It starts out with a lot of electronic effects including the percussion. A fast paced funk pattern gets started and Scofield lays out a tricky melody which leaves room for backing instruments to show off a bit. Scofield definitely takes advantage of the track to do some tricky guitar work. Oh, and he throws the chorus of 'Blue Moon' in there if you listen closely. By the end of it all, it gets into quite an intense groove to wind it all up.

'Polo Towers' sets up a tricky rhythm section in which a layered sax lays down an unusual melody. A guitar break in the middle plays through some cool sounds and screechy textures. Later, the guitar and sax mirror each other and create a crazy vibe right at the end.

'Snap, Crackle, Pop' is another upbeat funk-fest with another great guitar solo with some unique sounds which were probably created by the electronics. The theme in this one doesn't quite match up to the faster rhythm, but that's only a minor problem. 'Lucky for Her' is the final track which ties everything up nicely in a final showcase of electronica and guitar.

In the end, it is understandable why this was released under The John Scofield Band name because the entire band makes this album what it is. But overall, it belongs to John Scofield who provides most of the solos, and to Avi Bortnick who is in charge of the electronica portion of the album, and who has a lot of say in the vibe of each track and who lays down the tricky rhythms and up-to-date sound. This is a very fun album with a lot of variety. On the surface, it may seem a little hokey, but it all pulls together nicely and leaves you feeling like you are listening to a very current recording.

John Scofield says that he like to think that Miles Davis would have loved this album because of the way it stretches Jazz fusion boundaries and how it sounds so current. Even though there are some progressive elements spread throughout the album, it is mostly just good funk fusion album and it is one that might even make you want to move around a bit. It is definitely more than just a background record, it is possibly even a party record if used in the right way, but I find that some of the tracks might be too experimental or progressive to be completely accessible. But it is definitely enjoyable and fun.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.41 | 612 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by PsychoFunkSoldier

4 stars I can understand why the reviews are divided for this because I was originally disappointed when this album was released, but it has really grown on me as of late. I thought a lot of the mellow parts were cheesy and some of the heavy parts were cliche, so after about two full listens I put the album away.

Well, I picked it up this week and honestly I think it might be one of their best works. Now I go all the way back to Images & Words and Awake which are still two of my favorites along with Scenes from a Memory. After taking some time off from DT I gave this album another try and now really appreciate how all the music fits together and I've found many more pieces that I really now like. The Gift of Music and Our New World stood out right away but now some of my personal favorites include Dystopian Overature, A Life Left Behind, Three Days, The X Aspect, A New Beginning, Moment of Betrayal, and The Path That Divides.

From a performance standpoint I think it could be considered Labrie's and Rudess's best work. There's enough here for any progress I can to appreciate but this won't win you over if you've never been a fan of DT.

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 Apoteosi by APOTEOSI album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.85 | 160 ratings

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Apoteosi
Apoteosi Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars APOTEOSI was one of the many Italian prog bands that emerged toward the tail end of the scene, managed to release a single album and then disbanded never to be heard from again. This band emerged from Palmi in the Calabria region of Southern Italy and was built around the nucleus of three siblings: Silvana, Massimo and Federico Idà. The band was notorious for being quite young as the majority were teens at the time, however they had all been playing together for quite some time before finally getting to this one and only eponymously titled album.

This project was a family affair in every way possible since the father Salvatore Idà even got in on the action and released the album on his Said Records, however release didn't translate into any fame or fortune due to horrible distribution and even less than adequate exposure through marketing. This was basically a homegrown affair that has remained so until modern day when interest in the album has picked up due to the popular interest that has developed in everything 70s prog.

APOTEOSI is an awkward sounding album that seems to meander unpredictably. The main sources of reference seem to belong to the greats of the Italian era such as PFM and Banco but missing are the outstanding full-band instrumental interplay, the sizzling poetic prose and interestingly arranged composiitons that offer a a ceaseless parade of good old fashioned Italian prog passion. In fact the album seems to rely on the atmospheric meanderings through different keyboard sections that allow the weak vocal style of Silvana to play peek-a-boo every once in a while without any satisfying resolve.

Perhaps the most satisfying aspects of APOTEOSI are the excellent bass, guitar and keyboard interaction that do indeed crank out some seriously technically infused chops but they seem to get lost when the atmospheric parts find Silvana delivering some of the weakest lyrical deliveries on any progressive Italian album i've ever encountered. So woefully weak are her parts that it pretty much derails any possibly enjoyment for this album as a listening experience for no matter how graceful are the transitions, no matter how flirtatious are the flutes or jarringly brilliant are the rest of the band's roles, this one key ingredient falls flat.

One could scour the 70s of hundreds of examples of Italian prog and only come away with the fact that there was a glut of extremely competent examples of progressive rock that mixed and melded with every other musical style under the sun with some of the greatest vocalists ever to have appeared on recordings to follow suit. It almost seems that it's literally impossible for an Italian band to crank out a substandard album but i've found that APOTEOSI managed to create a substandard flop that rubs me the wrong way in about every way possible.

Firstly the drum parts are obnoxiously loud and sound canned. The mix is painful and the musical flow seems rather haphazard with the ultimate weaknesses coming from both the female and male vocal performances. This would've been a much better album if it was completely instrumental but even the compositional prowess isn't up to snuff, made especially more irrelevant considering this was unleashed as late as 1975. Yeah, there are some brilliant instrumental workouts here and there but overall this is one of the most unsatisfying Italian prog albums i've ever heard and i've heard and awful lot. Back in the vaults with this one.

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 Subject Esq. by SAHARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.54 | 36 ratings

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Subject Esq.
Sahara Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Starting out as one of the many 60s beat music groups that looked towards England rather than their homegrown German underground scene, SUBJECT ESQ started out humbly in 1966 as The Subjects but would change their name in 1968 to SUBJECT ESQ. The band would release this sole album under this moniker in 1972 before switching gears one more time and changing their band name to Sahara under which they would release two additional albums. Based in Munich, The Subjects turned SUBJECT ESQ were more interested in creating a hard rock tinged melodic guitar driven sound that utilized English lyrics and incorporated touches of more progressive elements such as jazz-rock and some psychedelic features.

The band spent many years on the local scene honing their skills before they got around to recording and releasing this eponymously titled SUBJECT ESQ release and therefore this debut album sound like it was delivered from a well-seasoned band that had successfully honed their Beatles melodies, their Who inspired heavy chops and incorporated a more local flavor with Embryo styled jazz-rock that offered interesting extended progressive workouts that spread out beyond the strongly melodic songwriting process. The band at this stage consisted of Michael Hofmann (flute, alto sax, vocals), Peter Stadler (keyboards), Stephan Wissnet (bass, vocals), Alex Pittwohn (mouth harp, 12-string acoustic guitar, vocals) and Harry Rosenkind (drums) but the band would add even more musicians as they continued to tour.

SUBJECT ESQ is a very strong example of completely unknown music by today's standards was ridiculously good and leaves me wondering why these guys haven't been relegated to a higher level of historical standing. The melodic hooks are solidly addictive as they immediately reel you in before the arrangements are allowed to develop into more intriguing complexities. While not exactly jazz-fusion, the jazz elements are wickedly strong as they accompany the hard rock guitar parts but are just as integral to the band's overall sound as are the guitar and bass. The vocal performances are outstanding. Vocals in German bands of the era can be less than optimal for the musical style but several vocalists exhibit very strong harmonies as well as instrumental command that ranges from technically adept to ridiculously playful.

SUBJECT ESQ was one of the underground prog legends of the Munich area in the day but never really broke beyond the German market unfortunately. With an eclectic sound that sounded part English rock including a Jethro Tullish flute performance, a jazzy rock dominance and a strong American folk element that reminds a bit of Crosby, Still and Nash, it's no wonder the band were quite popular in their region for their day as all members maintained a strong command of the instrumentation and musical delivery. This is one of those albums you can drift into decades later and the melodic hooks are so strong that it will instantly drag you in and leave you wondering why you haven't heard of them before and even worse make you wonder how many other excellent bands of similar ilk have also been lost to the bulk of product in the historical bins. This was a surprise but a pleasant one. A super strong album that deserves rediscovery.

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 Find Your Sun by D PROJECT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.97 | 63 ratings

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Find Your Sun
The D Project Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The usual top-notch instrumental performances from Stéphane and guests trying to melt multiple styles and structures into the framework of single songs. The justifications for such odd, hodge-podge, patchork compositions are only, as always, in the mind of M. Désbains; as usual, they don't really make sense (or pleasure) to me. I'm surprised producer Andy Jackson (whose rendering of sound quality is great) allows these often disjointed and incongruous sections to end up in their final sections. Perhaps the Stéphane-Andy team have a vision that progressive rock should always be constituted from the gluing together of many separate songs into one. (Lord, what a precedent Peter Gabriel GENESIS created with "Supper's Ready"!) As always with Stéphane albums, there are great sections, great instrumental performances, cogent and relative lyrics, yet I have trouble liking any one song start to finish. The best song he's ever produced (and the only one that remains on constant rotation among my playlists) is the amazing title song from 2006's "Shimmering Lights."

3.5 Stars based upon the strength of "The End," "Find Your Sun," and "Be Free" and 12-string guitars. You be your own judge.

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 u-B-I-Q-U-e by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.26 | 24 ratings

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u-B-I-Q-U-e
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Ubique" (stylized "u-B-I-Q-U-e") by Art Zoyd was released in 2001. Only two of the early members remained in the band at this time, composer and instrumentalist Gerard Hourbette and keyboardist Patricia Dallio. Besides these two, there were 3 other regular members of the band, whose line up emphasized the use of electronics. On this particular album, however, we see a movement towards the traditional instruments of their original line up in the use of an "orchestra" which consisted of 13 guitars, 3 basses, 6 saxophones, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 10 drummers, and 1 percussionist. Sounds pretty impressive, right?

Well, it is quite an impressive sound, and it is made all the better with guest conductor Michel Berckmans from "Univers Zero". Unfortunately, it isn't used as much as it should be throughout the album, and you still get left with that feeling that the overall sound depends too much upon electronics. Not that it is a bad thing, but with AZ, the sound was just more appealing when traditional instruments were used. I understand, that like Frank Zappa and other artists, that electronics can generate the perfect sound that artists want, but in the end, they can also make the music sound "fake" or clinical with lesser feel of dynamics and emotion. Some artists are out there that can pull this off, but not often.

The album is based upon the book Ubique by Phillip K. Dick, a science fiction writer. The band calls it a symphonic poem, which is an apt description. The album is divided up into two suites, "Glissements Progressifs du Plaisir" made up of the first 9 tracks, and "Metempsychose" made up of the last 7 tracks.

When the orchestra is used, the result is much better, even when it is used in tandem with the electronic instruments. The music is powerful and cinematic, a dynamic and beautiful. Whether the orchestra section is forte or pianissimo, the overall feel is much more satisfying, though at times, it is used sparingly. However, there are sections where the electronics have the say, too many of them in fact, and those sections just aren't that convincing.

The first 2 parts of the first suite are full and exciting, sounding like an authentic soundscape for the setting of the story. As the suite continues, however, electronic instruments start to take completely over and this is the case for most of the rest of the suite, which takes up a big part of the album. Things tend to get repetitive and unchanging in some sections, and quickly the listener can easily lose interest as repeated patterns and passages tend to wear on you. The last few parts of the suite start to utilize the orchestra better, and things start to improve, but you almost expect a little big more, as some sections tend to put the orchestra into the background behind the electronics.

The 2nd suite starts out with a great combination of both sources and together they create a dramatic and imposing landscape. This continues into the 3rd section of the suite which only consists of various generated noises and effects, but still carries forth the impact. After this, there are 2 long, minimalist sections, that goes on way too long (about 15 minutes) and would have been better served if there were some sort of visual to go with it, but as music, it is too repetitive and uninteresting. While it is true that with a lot of minimalist music, you can conjure up your own visuals, I find it difficult to do with this music because it is meant to portray specific scenes and the only real reaction I get is being startled at the sudden introduction of another instrument. The last two movements are short, but they re-establish the theme of the 2nd suite and things start to get interesting, but it's all over quickly.

Overall, this is the sound you expect from the electronic version of the band, but your expectations could be higher since there is a use of more traditional instruments. They could have been used a little more effectively though, and there are long sections in this overall album that hardly utilize it at all, and see very little movement in the music itself. The album still is good enough to be considered good, but your expectations wish that there was so much more here. I don't think this is an album for people interested in Art Zoyd's style to completely ignore, as there some great passages here, but it is still far from their best work, so it is not one I would start with. I might have a better understanding of the music if I was more familiar with the source of the topic the music is centered around, but it does provoke a darkness and feeling of foreboding, as you would expect in a dark sci-fi story. But a better familiarity might generate a better affinity for the music itself. I can easily settle on 3 stars for this one even with my ignorance of the inspiration of the album.

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 War Child by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.33 | 774 ratings

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War Child
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Jethro Tull has been and will (most likely) forever be a favorite band of mine. From humble beginnings on "This was" with it's very blues rock approach they certainly developed over the coming years into something completely unique and excentric, thanks in no small part to the chieftain himself, Ian Anderson. The progression was swift and breathtaking. Moving across the full spectrum of music, drawing on classical, folk, jazz, hard rock they thusly took full control over the genre known as progressive rock. I dare say no other band sounded like them.

"Warchild" came right after two of progressive rocks finest achievements: "Thick as a brick" and "A passion play". In my book these two albums with sidelong suites are five stars and utterly brilliant. The problem with "Warchild", as I see it, is not the musical content but the albums it followed. The grave complexity of "A passion play" was left behind on this one which meant taking a different turn on the highway explored for the last few years. The music was instead made up of shorter tracks, a noticable accessability and lighter textures. This did not mean they abandoned the progressive genre or complexity, they simply smoothed it out a bit. The problems I had with the album, initially, was down to exactly the things previously mentioned. All of a sudden the overblown pomp and darkness of "A passion play", which seemed like the crowning achievement of Tull, was abandoned. My thirst for ever more mindblowing concept albums with loooong suites and themes seemed unsatisfied. It took me some time to come 'round.

For me "Warchild", nowadays, is just as brilliant as anything before or after. It is an album of a unique sound. True, the sidelong suits were gong but the complexity was not. Some tracks are easily digested but not less brilliant. The album holds many of the bands best tracks. In my book "Warchild" came to be a one-off in their discography. "Minstrel in the gallery" saw them returning to the elongated tracks in "Baker St. Muse" but also the highly complex in the title track. "Warchild" is a hard rocking, folky, raw and rough and witty album with quite a dose of frustrated energy (possibly due to the bad reviews "A passion play" received) that adds accordion to the procedings. They never sounded quite like this again. Anderson sings with power and gusto and the band delivers in spades.

The album had some sort of concept, so Ian Anderson hadn't quite abandoned that idea, but is more a collection of individual songs. If you don't know the concept it doesn't matter. You will enjoy it just the same. And as far as songs go I find it hard to pick out specific tracks. Despite the obvious or supposed lack of concept it holds together very well and acts as a tapestry where every motif adds to the whole experience. The air raid sirens of the title track (which opens the album) is simply genious and the song gives quite a good idea of what to expect. Slightly askew and intense it is a bit more stripped down than the sound on the previous album but that makes it all the more powerful. And yes, listen to "Queen and country". There's a song for you. Well, to be honest I could go through every song saying the same, "Listen to...", but that would be tiresome for everyone involved.

I love this album. I do. It is great and sees Jethro Tull swagger and rock out in a majestic haze of power. It's like they wanted to shut the critics up and deliver a massive blow to everyone that didn't get "A passion play". It may take some time to warm to this album if you, like me, listened to their discography from "This was", over "Stand up" and "Benefit" and so on but do not dismiss this album as a throwaway preceeding "Minstrel in the gallery", "Songs from the wood" and the brilliant "Heavy horses". Give it a go and open your ears to some truly magnificent music.

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 This Was by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.31 | 783 ratings

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This Was
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by thief

3 stars London in 1968 lived and breathed blues rock - John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac, The Yardbirds, all these groups were hip and Clapton was god. The biggest group in the pack, Cream, had already released two powerful albums and greatly influenced upcoming bands, paving the way for loud, guns blazing guitar music with extended solos and blues roots. So if you wanted to get recognition, you had to follow.

At least that's how Ian Anderson remembers the beginnings of Jethro Tull.

The band eanred public's attention at the National Jazz and Blues Festival in August 1968 and the album quickly followed. Ian felt they needed Mick Abrahams' experience and guitar skills to form a reliable foundation, while Anderson's flute playing (first year with the instrument) gave the group another dimension and let them stand out. This approach proved to be good enough to reach no. 10 on the charts.

"My Sunday Feeling" opens with prominent flute, emphatic vocals and Mick's crunchy guitar chops. I wouldn't necessarily call it a smash hit, but rather a promising band executing well-known formula - a positive, charming effort. "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" seems to be even more Delta-inspired, with very quiet, minimalistic performance of tender guitar and harmonica, plus two guys bemoaning the imminent break-up.

"It's Breaking Me Up", although an original song, sounds just like any other straightforward blues of the era (Canned Heat, Savoy Brown etc.). Not that it's unenjoyable - relaxed atmosphere, quite potent harmonica-guitar duels and groovy drums all have its charm. Same applies to "Serenade of a Cuckoo", jazzy cover of Roland Kirk's classic, beautifully incorporating Ian's skills with the flute. Not the stuff I would be searching for myself, but on a Jethro Tull debut they sound kind of fresh and pleasing, especially that Mick Abrahams does a great job on both. I wouldn't be surprised if his skills surpassed Martin Barre's at the time.

"Move on Alone" and "Round" are too short to make or break the album, but they contribute largely to its appeal - the former with sweet orchestral arrangements and French horn, the latter with feel-good jazzy piano. At times I sense the Cream inspiration on these, but I'm not sure why.

Speaking of Cream, "Cat's Squirrel" was a popular tune back in the day and I'm glad Jethros came forward with their version. It's certainly one of the strongest points of "This Was" - we finally experience fat, distorted humbucker sound, fast tempos and Bunker blasting away. Most of Mick's soloing is apt and interesting, so we never miss Ian's voice on this one. "Dharma for One" is another potent instrumental, but this time the flute - and so-called claghorn - lead the way, right until Clive Bunker takes the rule and surprises with dope drum solo. And yes, this one is listenable!

For some reason I skipped "Beggar's Farm" - maybe the only song co-authored by Anderson & Abrahams, apparently mixing styles of the two. In its core it's a moody blues rock tune about a cheating girl, at first tender and hypnotic, but later building up in a clever way, culminating in a brilliant instrumental bridge between 2:50 and 3:40. I really like this one for showcasing all bandmates at once.

And then we have everyone's favorite song of the year, "A Song for Jeffrey"! That tune is catchier than anything you've heard before, well, at least on "This Was"! Groovy harmonica, badass guitar slides and fuzzy vocals from fuzzy radio work fantastically, and I just adore the break in the middle, so youthful and pleasant. These guys might be something, you know.

The band was clearly searching for its sound at the time, but results were promising. Even though I don't listen to blues rock often, I can tell Jethro Tull's debut was competent and enjoyable, of course if you're willing to expand beyond progressive folk they were known for later. Cool guitar chords, impressive drumming and flute's prominence are all important, but cheerful atmosphere is the most appealing factor in "This Was" formula. I'd say it ranks perfectly in the middle when compared to other debut albums - far from "Led Zeppelin I" grandeur, but also incomparably better than "From Genesis to Revelation". Three stars, well earned.

I advise you to get Remaster version including 1968 singles or "Living in the Past" compilation to fully appreciate early Jethro Tull - "Love Story" and "Christmas Song" are mandatory listens.

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 The Trail Of Tears Suite by VERTICAL ALIGNMENT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Trail Of Tears Suite
Vertical Alignment Symphonic Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

— First review of this album —
4 stars Nu Na Da Ul Tsun Yi (the trail where we died)

Vertical Alignment

Mike Florio? vocals, Keyboards Doug Bowers? backing vocals, keyboards, guitar Michael Adams? drums and percussion, fretless bass Phoen1x? backing vocals, guitar, keyboards, Cherokee flute

GUESTS on Trail of Tears Suite:

DAVID WALLIMANN: Guitar

JOE DENINZON: Violin

RANDY GEORGE: Bass and Keyboard

DAVE HOPE: Bass

JAYMI MILLARD: Bass

RANDALL REEDER: Will Rogers Impersonator

ROSS RORIE: Narration

Album released December 1, 2017

The Trail of Tears Suite

What is it that spurs us towards learning about our roots, our heritage?

According to Phoen1x, it was a trip to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, USA, for the memorial service when his mother died.

Here in the heart of the Cherokee Nation, which had been forcibly relocated from their ancestral homes in the southeastern regions of USA, he was confronted with his own story.

The Trail of Tears Suite flowed from his pen, song after song, as he immersed himself in that tragic tale of dominant culture oppressing indigenous peoples?yet indomitable spirits who chose to survive, thrive, and ultimately to forgive.

The Music

To these ears, a clear example of vintage symphonic progressive music- filled with growling Hammond organ, synthesizers, mellotron, orchestration, acoustic and electric guitar work, sophisticated arrangements, multi-layered vocals, changing tempos and keys, keeping a high level of musicianship.

The vocals were outstanding. I wished at times that there might be a change in lead vocals simply for some variety. Steve Walsh, for all his massive musical gifts, sometimes allowed Robby Steinhardt to take the lead, or the two would do powerful duet-vocals.

The KANSAS reference is deliberate as I was reminded at times of their earlier albums, especially those tunes that focused on Native themes.

I've rarely cared for spoken words or narration during albums, and there were several of these sprinkled throughout. Although the Will Rogers portions furthered the lyrical themes being explored- and I happen to love his witticisms, most of that seemed superfluous to me.

The Lyrics

There are several ways to convey a message.

I prefer having things suggested rather than literally spelled out- as they are here. I prefer "Long distance runaround/ Long time waiting to feel the sound?", to literally saying what is happening.

Granted, it's subjective, but for me, I'd rather make my own connections, feel my own feelings, get my own references.

That said, a lot of emotional ground is covered in these lyrics, and the story is unfolded bit by bit- people being forced to leave their ancestral homes, march in severe conditions, suffer great deprivations and loss. By some estimates, nearly half of the more than 16,000 people perished in the Cherokee relocation.

Conclusion

This is a worthy consciousness-raising, thoughtful example of symphonic progressive rock played at a high level.

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 Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.13 | 1872 ratings

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Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After the impressive and very successful Scenes from a Memory, Dream Theater released an equally ambitious double album!!!

And this time they tried to modernize their music leaving a bit the typical 90's feeling of their past albums. For that they acquired influences from nu-metal and alternative metal, and even other prog metal acts like Tool (the chorus from The Great Debate sounds just like the great Los Angeles's band) with mixed results in the first CD of the album. Some tracks like The Glass Prison deserves to be remembered as true Dream Theater's classic, while others like Misunderstood and Disappear are totally forgettable. So, despite this CD showed some new paths for the band, I could never give it more than three stars.

And what about the long epic included in the second CD of the album? Here Dream Theater tried to continue the style of Metropolis Pt.2 with success, but without reaching the incredible levels of that album. Some tracks are impressive like the symphonic Overture and the great and catchy Solitary Shell, while other parts of the suite like the bit disappointing Grand Finale are not enough to consider this CD a masterpiece. For this reason, I would give this second part of the album four solid stars.

In addition, I must give a special mention to the musicians. Pretrucci and Portnoy made their most fierce work yet, while Rudess demonstrated that he is the definitive keyboard player for this band.

Best Tracks: The Glass Prison (the initial riff is impressive, and the song contains some interesting new elements) and The Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence suite.

Conclusion: Dream Theater entered in the new millennium with the desire of adding new textures to their music, which revolves between nu-metal, alternative metal, rap and some Tool sounding passages. Nevertheless, they did not forget their past with the symphonic and very prog sounding suite included in the second disc of the album.

The result is a convoluted album with some impressive moments and incredible playing from all the members of the band, but which failed to reach the levels of albums like Images and Words, Awake and Scenes from a Memory despite showing surprising new and interesting capabilities of the band.

My rating: ***

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