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Pyramid Theorem - Beyond the Exosphere CD (album) cover


Pyramid Theorem


Progressive Metal

3.95 | 40 ratings

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4 stars Despite always being a big fan of what some call "heavy prog" (Rush, Porcupine Tree etc.) I've never really paid much attention to progressive metal. Now I've listened to this album, I now realise what a massive mistake that was. This album has really got me into the genre, and I've enjoyed it so much I'm going to try and listen their previous albums as soon as I find time. Anyway, here's my review of this one.

"Beyond the Exosphere", a 17-minute epic, opens the album with a bombastic guitar riff, which soon develops into an equally epic guitar solo. The first section, "Ascension", acts a bit like "Prelude" in the Rush (with whom they share nationality) epic "Cygnus X-1", many riffs from it are repeated later in the song - or, I should say, many similar riffs are played later in the song, I'm not sure whether the exact riffs are played again - with a short section include vocals.

And talking of vocals, I was impressed by the singing. From all I've heard about metal, I expected the lead vocalist to be screaming his head off, but no, his voice is perfectly in tune, clear, and generally ideal for the music. Also, the band are all great musicians - not that I wouldn't expect that, but they play some stuff, particularly on "Beyond the Exposure", that sounds very difficult - and they play it with expertise.

Back onto the subject of the opening track, once "Ascension" ends, the next part, called "Planetary Transit" comes in; which begins with - I have to admit it - one of the best drum solos I have ever heard (though I shall say no more here to ruin it for those who have not heard it). The other parts - "Regenesis" and "Quantum Leap" - are just as good; I particularly like the outro (some of the keyboard parts, I believe, are similar to "The Cinema Show" by Genesis).

So, to conclude my small essay on this marvellous song, I shall waste no further time endlessly describing it paragraph by paragraph, when I can do so in three simple adjectives: amazing, entertaining, and imaginative. Amazing goes without saying. Entertaining - I have not once been bored while listening to this song, and despite (as I mentioned earlier) repeating some riffs from the first section similar to "Cygnus X-1" by Rush, it is somehow not repetitive like "Cygnus X-1" is - and, to be honest, I'd actually rather listen to "Beyond the Exposure" than "Cygnus", as it is much less boring and more fun (yep, I said it). Finally, I have stated perhaps the most important word, imaginative, because it is hugely musically varied. It seems Pyramid Theorem have not been afraid to experiment, like the very first prog bands, with new technology - look at that drum solo - and with a huge variety of riffs and motifs throughout the song, that clearly indicate they as a band have a wide imagination, represented all at once in one brilliant, epic... epic.

After the brilliance of "Beyond the Exosphere", an acoustic (well, sort of) guitar and synths swirl in, which evolves into a heavy muted guitar riff, accompanied by the rest of the band - announcing the beginning of the next song, "Under Control". It features a lot of shifty time signatures, which give it a sense of speed and urgency, and thus feels a bit like a fast, short break after the lengthy "Beyond the Exposure". An ok song, but I think it lacks a certain distinguishment between each part of the musical composition - it feels a little repetitive, but not on a large scale.

Next, we're onto "Freedom". This sounds more like a classic metal song (if it weren't for the odd time signatures, conceptual lyrics and quite a few other things it would be perfect), due to the heavy riffs and drums, bellowed vocals, very loud volume - not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, after "Beyond the Exosphere", it's my favourite song on the album, featuring a great guitar solo (always a winner with me) and has some excellent lyrics - "Obey, or be swept away" ...epic.

Then we get to "Closer to the End", which, literally, is closer to the end. It begins with vocals though a voice distortioner accompanied by some mysterious-sounding acoustic chords on the guitar. This develops into an electric, thunderous guitar riff, and the rest of the band join in. The lyrics go on for a bit before it all breaks down at about two minutes fifty seconds in; however, it soon gets up again with a really good instrumental section featuring an organ solo that gives Rick Wakeman a run for his money and yet another astonishing guitar solo. After a while it returns to the mysterious-sounding acoustic chords and distorted vocals and basically repeats the cycle - except without another instrumental section. A really topping track.

Finally... "Intonate", the last song. It opens with distorted drumming - in fact, a lot of the music in this song is distorted. Even the time signatures are a bit distorted, if you know what I mean. You couldn't wish for a more uptempo, bombastic, musically varied finale - there's so much music in the song I can barely describe it. I suggest you just listen to it and see what I mean.

And to conclude! As you will know if you have read my other reviews, I have two requirements for a five star album:

1. The songs must all be excellent.

2. It must work brilliantly as an album.

I'll head of number two quickly. This album flows from track to track excellently. You might say this is not an important consideration, but actually, if the tracks on an album don't go well together, or they're ordered wrongly, it can seriously affect how people view it.

As for number one, the songs are generally great. "Under Control" perhaps could have been better, and if you wanted to be really perfectionist "Intonate" should have been a bit longer - there are so many parts I thought it was about three minutes long, I was shocked to see it round to about seven. Other than that, though, it's perfect - and, as I mentioned at the beginning, it's what's got me into prog metal. It might not be as brilliant for others, but for me it's as classic as an album like Moving Pictures.

So, the final verdict is... four stars.

FatherChristmas | 4/5 |


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