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3RDegree - Narrow-Caster CD (album) cover

NARROW-CASTER

3RDegree

 

Crossover Prog

3.69 | 51 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 12 years of patience and maturity put to good use.

3RDegree is a fairly new find to most of us proggers who didn't live in the New Jersey area in the mid-90s, but they've already been once around the block before this release. This is actually the band's third official album, and a bigger number than that for the members who completed solo projects over the years. But it seems that taking a break from 1997 until now is just what the band needed to complete an excellent, thematic and very mature album that will no doubt appeal to proggers far and wide. While the band resides in song-based material that always stays modestly concise they're still impressive on a number of levels, from composition to melody and mood. They definitely have a sound that's hard to compare to other acts since they have a touch of influence from the early 90s grunge bands, the 80s new wave music and a healthy dose of classic prog, but it all purees together nicely to make for a great listen that demands spin after spin.

While the songs work together on the whole to create a running tone and theme, they certainly are impressive on their own, something many prog bands struggle to pull off. Take for example the calm and reflective It Works, a mid-paced song that develops through moods and speeds with some serene vocal parts from George Dobbs and some very pleasing piano melodies. Other songs that induce a kind of nirvana-head-rush include the somewhat ''non-prog'' (but who cares) title track, Narrow-Caster which includes some of the best lyrics to describe the current state of the world, (''this is indeed my world/and you're just living in it'') and some more incredibly airy yet demanding melodies that make you want the song to last longer than its 3-minute duration, but still make you not miss it too much when it's over. More on the 'proggy' side of things is the excellent Young Once which goes through a plethora of moods before ascending into keyboard heaven with a 2 and a half minute ambient section reminiscent of Jean-Michel Jarre. This helps things segue nicely into the next piece, which also happens to be the longest on the album. Scenery is an excellent track that encompasses everything the band has done well to this point and simply exaggerates it.

Of course while a big part of the album's wonder has foundation in the moody and serene aspects, it just wouldn't be the same without that grungy influence that makes some of the songs into excellent - and unique - powerhouses that will rock you to your core. The opening Apophenia is just like that, excellent vocal work once again is backed by a band obviously fired up to make a comeback. This one is defined by a hard guitar from Pat Kliesch which will show itself in much more than one place on the album, and rightly so. Free For All is another hard hitter which has apparently become a staple track for the boys, and it shows in the amount of energy put into it. The shortest song on the album is also the heaviest, The Proverbial Banana Peel is a great tongue-in-cheek track that includes some almost growling backing vocals layered overtop of all the other vocals which makes for a noticeable section. Live With This Forever maintains dark tones overtop of a subtle, yet mean bassline coming from Robert Pashman, the vocal harmonies on the chorus section are very pleasing to say the least. Cautionary Tale has the band about to sound like The Mars Volta before adding their trademark control into their songs. This one is another darker tune with subtle instrumentation this time dominated by the drumming styles of Rob Durham before coming into a once again harmonized chorus section. Another nice combination of dark and serene. The Last Gasp is another dark and somewhat chilling song before becoming once again very pleasing in sound with a memorable chorus that rings in your head long after the song is over.

Clocking at 46-minutes this album is also the ideal time. While previous albums showed the band trying to make the most out of cd-space, this one shows them trying to construct the best-of-the-best of their material into a concise format that will leave you salivating for more, and it does just that. Don't be surprised if by the end of The Last Gasp you just want to start the whole thing over again. This disc does not have a single weak point, although it does have many standouts throughout the album, and by cutting off any 'excess fat' they really have created a memorable bunch of tunes.

This really is the start of something beautiful. While the band has been around for a good long time already there's no doubt they've finally found their sound and a way to get it out to the people. An impressive album that shows promise for a killer follow-up, this one is going to get a solid 4-stars out of 5. Highly recommended, this may be just the cure for people looking for unique progressive music that is a nice blend of old and new without ever becoming too 'retro'.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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