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Hourglass - Subconcious CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.58 | 31 ratings

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4 stars The cool thing about the ProgArchives comes when you are introduced to a new band you otherwise would never have known existed. Such is the case with Hourglass. I'm a prog fan that enjoys longer songs because if feel it gives good bands a chance to stretch out their musical ideas better. Let's just say these guys extend things out quite a bit with 5 songs on an 80min disc with two songs being less than 5min! I've seen some refer to this as Dream Theater light. I'm not so certain as it can be as heavy as DT at times. However, most of the time they stick to a more melodic prog-metal style that is more concerned with the songs than a showcase for technical prowess. I assume that the reference to Dream Theater light can be attributed to their not being an instrumental masturbation band like DT. That's not saying they're not quality musicians, quite to the contrary. The guitarist and the drummer are definitely skilled and above average for the genre.

And now, a short word about the vocals. The vocalist fits very well in the slower parts of songs, but just doesn't quite have enough power or range to effortlessly handle the heavier sections like other vocal stalwarts in the prog-metal genre. He's got a nice voice and he's also the third singer in three albums, so I think the band also recognizes finding the right singer can be an issue. When you're used to hearing singers like Russell Allan, Jorn Lande, Devin Townsend, James Labrie, Mac, Damien Wilson, Ray Alder, and Devin Graves; you have a certain idea of how prog-metal vocals can be handled.

The opening song, The Hammer's Strike is heavier than the material from their second album. There are some great guitar riffs and drumming variety. The keyboard and guitar interplay is impressive at times. The guitarist definitely has some similarities to Petrucci in his use of fast arpeggio's and scale runs. Yet at the same time he's a more melodic soloist. The keyboardist uses a lot of piano work in the song which definitely gives the song a more unique and non-DT take. At no time does this song seem repetitive or too long. The 17min goes by very fast and the song never loses interest along the way.

The next track, Altered State opens with a great bass line with a nice burbling tone. The vocal harmonies work incredibly well on this track. They're really catchy and memorable. This would make a good single. There's some nice acoustical guitar throughout the song with some great ethereal keyboards. What's cool about this track is that it never devolves into a power ballad. The drumming is also well done on this track with the drummer performing a lot of interesting cymbals work (something I really value in a drummer). All in all this is a great, concise track.

Now for the second epic presented in multiple track fashion, the 20min Mists of Darkness. MoD starts off with a quick keyboard which transitions into another memorable and harmonious vocal centric introduction. When the guitar kicks in the song has an early 80's Foreigner like hard rock flavor before returning to a more laid back Spock's Beard like section. When the prog-metal section kicks in it is very reminiscent of Fates Warning with driving guitars and heavy drumming. In fact, all that's missing is Ray Alder's voice!

The other short track on this recording is the 4.5min Thread the Needle. This is more like your standard prog-metal number with heavy guitar riffs, distorted keyboards, and staccato vocals. This sounds a lot like Falling into Infinity era Dream Theater.

Finally the album closes with the massive 32min epic Exit Wounds. This is a more traditional epic in the sense that it has multiple parts which are relatively distinct in that you can tell when you've switched to the next part in the epic. That's both good and bad, I like epics where they are totally seamless. Then again, I like epics where I can here separate and catchy subsections. I guess on this cd you get both types. There are a lot of nice memorable, vocal harmonies; though a little repetitive during Farewell. The subject matter is war and death, which does apply in these times. The drummer really shines on this epic. He switches between military patterns and heavy passages with ease. His intricate cymbal work is quite impressive and varied; something I wish more drummers in general would take as an example.

For a new band, these guys are actually pretty impressive. There is definitely a sign of progression following their second album. If they keep getting better at this rate, they are going to be a real force in the prog-metal genre. This cd is definitely worth picking up, especially considering it is only $10. I think if you are a DT, Fates Warning, or Threshold fan you will find this recording quite enjoyable.

adigitaldan | 4/5 |


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