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Explorers Club - Age Of Impact CD (album) cover


Explorers Club


Heavy Prog

3.67 | 125 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Yes another Trent Gardner project. I’m not sure why this is classified as Art Rock, sure sounds closer to metal to me. The lineup is pretty impressive, and qualifies as a super- group I suppose, although I think ‘super-project’ is more accurate. I only became aware of these guys from their second album as it features Kansas front-man Steve Walsh with some impressive vocal performances. Walsh isn’t on this one, but the attendee list is a rock’s who’s-who anyway.

I tend to have a bit of difficulty making a connection with these types of projects. The level of musicianship is always top-drawer of course, and this album is no exception. But I get the impression that the music is intended more to impress other musicians than to make any kind of artistic statement. That seems especially true here with lots of swirling keyboards and guitar arpeggios and lively staccato drumming and some pretty wicked bass. But in the end the compositions lack any kind of real soul, so it’s hard to get in to.

Highlights include some very intricate acoustic guitar from Steve Howe, particularly on the opening track, "Time Enough", and “No Returning”. Michael Bemesderfer’s flute work is a welcome addition throughout (anybody know who this guy is?). And I don’t believe Terry Bozzio is capable of anything but expansive, impressive drumming, so that’s a plus. But I’m not a particularly big fan of either James LaBrie or Trent Gardner’s vocals, and on all but “Fading Fast” I think there’s too much of both of them. Most of these tracks would have more than likely sounded better as instrumentals. “Fading Fast” is the lone exception, as the vocals fit quite well with the more subdued keyboard passages. Overall the more interesting tracks are that one and "Time Enough".

I don’t know much about the background for this project, but I do know that both albums are supposed to be all about exploring a theme. In this one’s case I believe the theme is a kind of nebulous idea about examining life from different angles, sort of a metal-driven search for the meaning of life I guess. And sort of a weak conclusion.

Like I said, the musicianship here is as good as it gets, and the arrangements are highly varied and interesting to listen to. But the overall impression is not very lasting or inspiring, so I would have to say that this feels like a three star album. Recommended to fans of any of the superstars who appear on the album and to professional and amateur musicians alike (especially guitar and bass players), as they will probably be impressed with the playing of those instruments. Not particularly recommended to anyone else though.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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