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3RDegree - Ones & Zeros - Volume 0 CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.15 | 217 ratings

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Greg Jones
5 stars In 2015 the always adventurous 3rDegree released what I assume will be their artistic peak. A completely fresh and uncategorizable concept album called Ones And Zeroes Pt 1, it sounded different every time I played it and still does. Working within the limits of niche band economics, they achieved this unimaginable height purely on the strength of their compositional ideas. And the accolades poured in. Since this is a band who have been consistently topping themselves and surprising their fans since their comeback album 'narrow-caster', Ones And Zeroes Pt 1 was akin to a Dark Side Of The Moon to these ears, certainly in scope even if not in sonic lushness.

I was all set, then, for them to finally have a break in the winning streak. I mean, no one can keep leaping over expectations forever, right? I even told a few of the band members I'd be thrilled if they made a new record that was merely good. And when I was blessed with an advance copy of the follow up, Ones And Zeroes Part 0, I grinned and told myself as the rocking opener kicked in, 'that's better than good!'

I had no idea how much better. The first 3 or 4 listens I really liked it, feeling that they'd kept a bit of the unexpected from Part 1 and blended that with their penchant for hooks-less-travelled that made their earlier albums embed themselves so deeply into my heart. It seemed they had come up with a new gem worthy of their prior releases.

But this morning, not fully awake, I put on my trusty Grado headphones and decided to give it a slice of quiet zone-in time. And I entered an inter-dimensional anomaly of the unknown. If Part 1 depicted a freakish new world, Part 0 shows us in horrible detail how we'll get there by our own device-clutching hands. Indicting present day mankind with a mirror so clear you'll want to run, the message is matched by music that is miraculously timeless, somehow familiar but not. If people were spontaneously exploding and no one knew why, this album would be like a Unabomber manifesto where the only bombs are truth and we'd all be singing along, awaiting the inevitable.

Individual song comments won't help describe this for you; you really need to experience it as a whole. Lyrically 'Connecting' is arrow- splitting in it's accuracy. And 'Click Away!' Is a most unique 15 minute prog epic. But they're both part of a monster of an album that will give you an individual ride by touching your innermost thoughts and fears. Is it better than Part 1? Impossible to say. But to these jaded ears it's as important to our time as The Who's Quadrophenia and Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime were to theirs. The only criticism I can possibly make is that I wish there was a section of menacing overdriven electric guitar to drive home the scary way this shoe fits. But the world we're heading for has digitized those guitars down to ones and zeroes, just like it seeks to do to all human experience. This album? Chilling. Essential. Run!

Greg Jones | 5/5 |


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