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Syzygy - Realms of Eternity CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.93 | 85 ratings

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Man With Hat
3 stars Into the outer realms...

...of good music. Realms of Eternity is certainly a progression for Syzygy, unfortunately for me, they have progressed in the wrong direction. I don't know if the genre teams had inside knowledge when they put this band in Crossover prog (before the release of this album), but damn, did they ever hit it out of the park. Perhaps more eclectic than most crossover prog (my knowledge of crossover prog is limited at best), but there is plenty of poppy moments all over this disc. Which, for me, is a real shame. I have been a fan of the band since their debut, and eventually found their previous Witsend CD, both of which are excellent slices of prog-rock (in the sense of the progressive rock definition of art rock). In my opinion, they have rarely treaded in the crossover prog territory before this disc.

There are a couple of changes here that lower the rating on this album. First, is the overuse of lyrics. Before they were a mostly instrumental band that used vocals quite effectively. (Also, the lyrics here are very...spiritual. Not that that's a problem for me, however there are some portions of this album that put the focus on the lyrics and thus its only fair to mention.) I have never really found the lyrics to be all that great between the previous efforts (not to say they were bad...because they weren't...they just didn't shine). Secondly, and most importantly, is the addition of Mark Boals on vocals. I don't know where they found this guy, but to my ears he is as generic as they come. He sounds like you could place him in any 80s/early 90s rock band and he would fit right in with little difficulty. The vocals on the previously outings were so unique and, to a degree, naive sounding which really gave them a charm and made them stand out in a crowd, so to speak. (I assume the vocalist in question would be Carl Baldassarre...whose voice I obviously enjoy.) Bolas' vocals do not suit this music at all, and probably add an extra flavor of pop sensibility to the music (not to mention increase the feeling of commonplaceness).

Having gotten that out of the way, this disc is not a total failure. The first five songs are (almost) all classic Syzygy, containing excellent melodies and instrumental passages. The three longer songs (Darkfield, Dreams, Dialectic) are all varied and flow together well. Echoes Remain is the obligatory acoustic piece, with the regular singer in place, thankfully. While nice, its a bit too long, but does offer a nice contrast to the rest of that "side" of the album. Special mention must go to Dreams, which is my favorite song on the disc. The vocals of Bolas (finally!) meld wonderfully with the music and the backing vocals. (My guess is the reason I like this track so much is that his vocals are only a part, and thus not dominating the song, and must work together with everyone else's, rather than stand out against the rest of the song.) Then comes...The Sea. For me, this is the CD takes a nosedive. This is much more streamlined and ordinary sounding than the rest of the album, losing the special sound that only Syzygy create. It starts off well, with the gentle and acoustic Arranmore Isle. Overture is interesting as well, ramping up the rock quotient of progressive rock, with some nice organ. After this, the album goes awry with The Sea and The Morning Song (which is kind of soothing and pleasant in its own special way...if you catch my drift...). Variation (Parts I & II) offers some nice instrumental relief, but unfortunately lead into Reflections and Finale, which doesn't end on a good note. Here, more than anywhere else, the music seems to serve the lyrics, instead of the lyrics serving the music. Which is really the biggest failing of The Sea, and more importantly Realms Of Eternity.

All in all, this is a lopsided album. When its good, its really good, but when its bad, its really bad (at least by progressive rock standards). Hopefully Syzygy will continue on without Bolas and focus more on the instrumental side of their music, which they are excellent at. The band seems to have good chops and can really write a good symphonic/eclectic prog song. (As an aside I do hope this album will grow on me, and perhaps one day I'll revise the rating I will give this album.) Until then however, I will give this three stars as I would not say this is any better than good. If you are a fan of crossover prog, Neal Morse (or other Christian prog bands...if they exist), or hard/alternative rock you will probably find more here to enjoy than I did.

Man With Hat | 3/5 |


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