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Yes - Relayer CD (album) cover

RELAYER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.36 | 2856 ratings

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Nucleus
5 stars Ahh... such perfect music.

CttE is pure progressive bliss, and manages to contain all of its beauty and intensity in by far the most accessible of the next three albums. TfTO is deep and epic far beyond anything ever written; it has so much beauty and intensity that people are driven off by it because it is superior to their own existence. In comparison to its predecessors, Relayer has a lot less beauty, but they make up for it by DESTROYING THEIR INSTRUMENTS. It's almost like hard rock without being heavy at all. Hands down, this album has the best rhythm section of anything. Ever. Period. John Paul Jones + John Bonham= incredible; Geddy Lee + Neil Peart= incredible; Greg Lake + Carl Palmer= Incredible. Chris Squire + Alan White= better. You have to hear it to believe it. It's as if the band had to control themselves to allow Rick Wakeman into the mix, and then once he left it was just, alright everyone, play as hard, loud, and long as you can. MINDBLOWING guitar. The solos in all three songs are up there with the best. Steve Howe must be the most emotional guitar player. He doesn't just play the guitar; he becomes one with the guitar and uses it to express is inner God. And believe me, he still plays fast, hard, and high. Blistering.

I used to not like this album. I used to strongly dislike it. I loved The Yes Album, Fragile, CttE, TfTO, GftO, Magnification, and even 90125 to some extent, but I just could not get into Relayer. I don't know whether it was the nonstop DESTROYING which scared me off, or the lack of a lot of vocals, but whatever it was I just wasn't a big fan. This changed. I liked To Be Over and listened to it a lot. Then I started getting into Gates of Delerium. THAT was a lifechanging moment. From then on, it was obsession. I actually listened to this album on repeat more than a hundred times in a row. I remember, because I wouldn't let anything else touch my ears. My friends and family were getting very sick of it by this point, but I couldn't have cared less if they disowned me as long as I got to keep my Yes.

So, after this long rave review intro, let me just set myself straight and say that Relayer isn't my favorite Yes album, CttE and TfTO take those honors. But it's damn good. Rick Wakeman's gone and it didn't even matter. They just changed their style. Patrick Moraz fills in for Rick, and hardly fills all the space that Wakeman did. It doesn't matter, though, it fits in with the formula. Any more keyboards and it might seem like it was intruding on the rest of the band's omnipotence. And Moraz gets a couple of solos. He plays a big part in the Soon section at the end of Gates of Delerium, and he even has a little solo in To Be Over.

1. Gates of Delerium- 11/10: Yep. More than ten. It's the only real epic on the album, and an epic it is. It kicks off with an intro of cymbals, keyboards, and inaccessible guitar and bass. Certainly different from the intros of Close to the Edge, Heart of the Sunrise, and Ritual. This is probably what turned me off to the album initially. But believe me, it's not bad, it's just different. After about two minutes, the song really starts. Jon's voice cuts through the sound and soars. Very good lyrics (Far more well-written then War and Peace, which this song is supposedly base off ;-P). We are introduced to the main riff, very simple. The vocals are incredible (Jon is an angel). However, as they keep singing, the music intensifies around them, and segways between the main riff. The rhythm section drives this song and helps build it up. Then they go back down a little bit around six minutes in. This doesn't last for long though. Give them about a minute before they really begin destroying. This is essentially the start of the ten minute solo, the start of the buildup, even though there are more vocals sung after this point. The solo officially starts about eight minutes in. It is VERY dense (Rick's keyboards would NOT fit into this song). Chris and Alan begin their wild rampage, and Steve and Moraz switch off playing in unison and just having Steve DESTROY on his instrument. You really can't understand and appreciate this solo after one listen, five listens, ten listens, even twenty listens. It takes much more than that. At first you only really hear the melodies (and at first not even those because it's so dense). You really need to UNDERSTAND the rhythm section though. The drums get pretty intense and violent after the eleven minute mark. Alan White deserves a Nobel Prize for his work in this song... Or at least a lot more acclaim than he receives. Most bands would need two, if not three drummers to make this much noise. Then at around twelve minutes the solo kicks back in full force, to build up to the mindblowing climax, beginning at about 12:45. Steve's steel pedal guitar comes to life and explodes out of the atmosphere, while the bass chases it and soars along with it. Meanwhile the drums are pounding like an engine keeping the song going while the guitar proceeds to get higher and higher. And even when you think an instrument can't possibly go any higher, Steve Howe makes it happen. At about fifteen minutes, the guitar flies out of the atmosphere. We are now in space. The drums stop and we are left with keyboards and guitar. Then the high pitch guitar cuts through the haze. We are found. This part of the song is titled Soon. and is arguably the most beautiful part of the album. Jon's voice takes control here, and it is one of his finest moments, rivaling his efforts in Awaken and And you And I. I love the outro to this song as well. The drums come back in, subdued, while the keyboards continue to be the backdrop, and the guitar takes you higher. Then a fadeout. Beautiful, and quite a relief after the violent intensity of the rest of the song. A flawless epic.

2. Sound Chaser- 9.5/10: If you thought that the band's intensity was spent after Gates of Delerium, think again. The rhythm section is possibly even better in this song. This song is boundless, wild, and crazy. It is blazing fast. It has little melody, just speed. The song starts off with a few seconds of keyboard to trick you into thinking that it is a relaxed song. Then the drums come in and rip you apart. The drums in most of the song are incredible and seem like a drum solo in many places, while still serving to back up the rest of the band. The bass kicks in too, and is also mindblowingly fast. This is possibly, dare I say it, Chris's finest moment (Alan's being Gates of Delerium). He is great in Heart of the Sunrise, Close to the Edge, Gates of Delerium, Roundabout, and Starship Trooper, but this might be even more virtuous. The rest of the band kicks in and Jon comes in with a few lines (this song is mostly instrumental) before letting the band take off again. This time the guitar takes you above the lightning rhythm section. Then everything else stops and Steve solos for a minute and a half or so. It is one of his best solos too. The one in the previous song, Yours is No Disgrace, America, and Siberian Khatru are also in the same ballpark. After the solo, it's Jon's turn to say some words. He says a few lines with keyboards in the background, then the drums and bass come back in and shut him out. The keyboards serve as a great soundscape in this song, as the bass underlies the whole ending. The guitar solo here is exceptional again. VERY FAST. However, the Cha Cha Cha part that Jon sings a couple times is still a bit annoying and doesn't add to much. This song is more of a chance to showcase their omnipotent virtuousity and their blistering intensity then to be pretty or have any discernable melody. Very dense and inaccessible. Very progressive.

3. To Be Over- 10/10: Ah... the calm after the storm. A beautiful keyboard and guitar riff starts off the song. The song placement on this album is perfect, because this song would not have been as effective anywhere else on the album but as a closer. After about a couple of minutes the vocals and drums start. To Be Over has some of Yes's most beautiful vocals, and the best lyrics on the album. After the first verse, Steve gets a solo. Don't worry though, it doesn't ruin the mood, it is just beautiful, with keyboards and cymbals in the background. At the same time, though, it is very fast in some parts. At about 4:30, the song becomes more epic and dramatic. The keyboards do a lot of the drama while the guitar solo continues. About a minute later the vocals come back in, continuing the desperate, dramatic feel. Very pretty. Nothing surprising in the rest of the song. There's a short keyboard solo, which is refreshing after having none of that for over a half hour. One more verse, and the last line be ready to be loved leads the way to a beautiful outro, one of their best.

I tried to make this not be a rave review. I don't think I did a very good job of that, but what can I say. Honestly though, the musicianship on this album rivals (and beats) that of anything else I have ever heard. Jimmy Page plays his guitar faster, but that kind of playing would be out of place on a Yes album. While still playing insanely fast, and technically sound, the band sacrifices very little of the emotion that made CttE and TfTO so good.

5 stars. ESSENTIAL. A MASTERPIECE of progressive music.

Nucleus | 5/5 |

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