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Tiles - Fence The Clear CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.68 | 68 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Clearing the Fence

With their play on words turning success (as a horse would clear a fence) into futility (a fencer wasting his energy on an invisible opponent) Tiles hit a niche and actually gained a considerable amount of success themselves. This album shows them after two years of live rehearsal and refining time with their material that would eventually make it's way onto this album, and having trimmed the fat it makes for a strong presentation. While this would not be Tiles' only well recieved album by all it certainly is their best received album in their career thus far, and for good reasons. The playing is sharp, the mix is full (thanks to Rush and Max Webster producer Terry Brown) and the songs all seem to fit with considerable emotion and power backing each one. In the world of Heavy Prog, these guys really know what they're doing.

Of course, one of the biggest fences these guys had to clear was their comparisons to Rush. That's not an easy band to be called The Next..., but Tiles manages to gracefully separate themselves from the prog legends while still maintaining a style that fans of Rush will enjoy. The band's style is really rooted in 90 alternative heavy rock (but not grudge) with a splash of progressive leanings, Rush-like instrumentation at times and a Dream Theater-esque vocalist (who doesn't sound enough like James LaBrie to become distracting, mind you). Most of the songs are played at blinding speed while others back off for a moment to deliver a slow number. Others still are set at a good mid-pace (where the band seems to excel) with incredibly strong vocals to make for a very emotive delivery such as the powerful Beneath the Surface. Most of the songs sit around mid-length (5-7 minutes) with a couple of shorter and one longer exception, the mighty epic which ends the album, Checkerboards.

As stated before, these guys are at their best in the mid-length songs. Following up one of the standout songs (Beneath The Surface) we have the next great song, Cactus Valley, it's chugging riff and high vocals make for an excellent mix along with some very strong guitars that simply blister. Gameshow is another that follows this method, this one a lot more cynical in tone and a touch faster.

All in all a great album if you want to hear some excellent guitar and prog tuned to be contemporary in the mid 90s. Kind of like a lighter version of Dream Theater meets Counterparts era Rush. If any of these thing appeal to you then Tiles is a must. Heavy Prog fans in general should find a lot to like about this band, and they're great at what they do, especially on this album. Bonus tracks on the InsideOut Special edition include some of the offcuts from the album, and actually add to the package on the whole, unlike some other bonus tracks on other albums. Each song is quite strong and includes one heavy, 7 minute instrumental. Anyways, bonus tracks or not this is an excellent album. 4 checkerboards out of 5, highly recommended!

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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