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Hybrid - Integration CD (album) cover

INTEGRATION

Hybrid

 

Neo-Prog

3.81 | 18 ratings

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mbzr48
4 stars Hybrid has been around for many years, since the early 1990's. After the occasional rare gig the band recorded their Lost in Relativity demo in 1995. In 1998 they released their first album Chasing the Dream, which seemingly was well received. This album Integration is their second release.

The three core members of Hybrid are Dave 'Ace' Boland, whom some of you might know as Clive Nolan's keyboard tech in Arena (keys & vocals), Martin Hayter (guitars) and Richard Brooke (drums). Now, add to this the bass playing and extra vocals of Arena's guitarist John 'Tarquin' Mitchell, the occasional Mellotron solo by Mr. Nolan himself and a couple of piano solos by Oliver Wakeman and you're probably getting quite a good idea what this will sound like. Dave himself describes the sound of the band as: 'A Rush-meets-Yes sort of vibe. Throw in a handful of Satriani and Dream Theater and add a slice of ELO and serve with an olive - hey presto ! Instant Hybrid album.' I personally would place them more in the Nolan-ish area of bands.

The album was partially recorded at Ace's 'The Lab' studio and partially at Clive Nolan's Thin Ice studio, with Clive and Karl Groom (of Threshold) helping out. Rob Aubrey (sound engineer of IQ and others) mastered the album. The whole thing sounds like a typical Thin Ice/Nolan production. Both lovers and haters of that sound will know what I mean.

The album starts with the energetic On Top of the World, one of the highlights of the album. It sounds like a cross between the more up-tempo Arena songs (like Welcome to the Cage) and Asia, the latter especially in the chorus. The song is very diverse and even features a nice reggae/dub intermezzo, followed by some rocking guitar and keyboard solos. The song ends with the sounds of a modem. Shadow Dancing starts as a dreamy, atmospheric ballad, not unlike IQ's Still Life. The first two minutes feature a drum computer (ouch!) accompanied by bass and keys. After this first section the real drums kick in with a changed rhythm. Guitar comes in as well at this point and a screaming guitar solo and keyboard solo follow. The song has lots of changes, at times being quiet (the vocal bits) and at time heavy, like the rocking end.

Walkabout is a nice instrumental that is at times heavy and bombastic. The whole track builds around a recurring melody played simultaneously by keys and guitar. The drums sound especially cheesy on this track and the song fades right in the middle of a guitar solo ! Moving Lights is an enjoyable, catchy uptempo song in the AOR-vein, featuring some fine guitar work. The monotonous drum beat actually sounds better than some of the attempt at drum rolls on the rest of the album. Objects at Rest features more drum computer. It's rather trance-like with keyboard sounds-capes accompanying the many variations on a guitar melody that are played throughout the song. Fortunately the second half is more exciting, which saves the track from becoming a bit boring.

Man in the Moon - fotunately not a cover of that horrible Yes track - is a long and energetic song with lots of great guitar solos and some nice piano work by Oliver Wakeman. The vocal bits and melodies in the first half are not among the best on the album, but the vocals in the second half more than make up for this and there's enough good instrumental sections to keep this track interesting. Again, as in most of the Hybrid tracks, there's lots of diversity and changes. At the end of the track there's a nice guitar climax and the song suddenly switches into Objects at Motions; probably the heaviest track on the album. It starts with quite heavy, raw guitar playing. After a reasonable drum solo the vocals come in. In the mid of the song there's a nice bass break that later features a collage of voices. Tension builds from there and in the last minute the pace suddenly increases and .... surprise ! The song ends with a reprise of On Top of the World, very nice touch ! Strange that they didn't choose this as the closing track of the album. And by the way, didn't I see that 'Blown on a steele breeze' lyric before ?

One to One (part 2) - what happened to part 1 ? - is a ballad-like track that starts with some mellow keyboard chords. After one and a half minute the main melody is picked up by bass and guitar and vocals follow quickly. There's some very tasty guitar in there as well. Very enjoyable track.

All in all Integration is a very nice album, with an emphasis on fine keyboard and guitar work. Dave 'Ace' Boland does a very reasonable job on the vocals, certainly better than the average release we receive at DPRP. The album will probably appeal to fans of Shadowland, Arena and Asia. To listen to some MP3 samples of the album and see where you can buy it, check out the Hybrid Homepage.

For me it's a solid 4 star and a great surprising find!

mbzr48 | 4/5 |

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