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Rocket Scientists - Brutal Architecture CD (album) cover

BRUTAL ARCHITECTURE

Rocket Scientists

Symphonic Prog


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joacim.ohlund
4 stars Very good and inventive symph/prog. Sometimes a little poppier like Spock's Beard or Alan Parsons and sometimes a lot more progressive and complex. It can be described as a tasteful mix of progressive rock, electronic music, which at times is near ambient in texture, and pop or more commercial rock. Fragments of King Crimson, UK and Pink Floyd can also be heard, as well as from ELP in some of the brilliant keyboard work courtesy of Erik Norlander. Overall quite accessible with strong choruses but, as stated above, at times also more complex.
Report this review (#6350)
Posted Wednesday, August 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars These manic studio scientists really hit the mark with this 1995 recording and installed them as among the best new American outfits to be reckoned with. Led by the now famous Erik Norlander whose Emersonian fixation was fueled by the use of a vast array of analog and digital machines, a dexterous stick player Don Schiff and a metronome like drummer, "Brutal Architecture" is not always brutal but its certainly powerful architecture highlighted by 2 memorable tracks , the amazing instrumental "Nether" and the grandiose two-part epic ballad "Mariner" full of hooks of unparalleled beauty. Those LA beaches sure can inspire some interesting musicians , even though this is certainly no laid-back groovy beach bum style. Truly excellent and deserving of return engagements. 4 agenas
Report this review (#6351)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Rocket Scientists second efford is much more progressive and mature than their debut. The songs are longer, more adventurous and the musicians show their talents with more freedom and confidence. But the basic elements of their sound were kept: great keyboards, tasteful arrangements, fine songwriting. Although the title and the cover might suggest a prog metal album, this is not the case. Itīs progressive music with some classic rock overtones, a bit like Kansas best moments. Erik Norlander is surely the leader of the pack and does a great job with his Rick Wakemanīs influence. But, fortunatly, he is the kind of leader that has a band mentality and never let his ego get in the way, giving the other members room to show their skills. They play for the songs and donīt go noodling like so many others do. The solos are usually short but very precise and skillfully done.

All songs are good and contrary to the first one, it is hard to point the highlights, since the tracks flow is smooth and I end up hearing the whole CD from start to finish. Not the best RS record but a big step forward. Recommended!

Report this review (#129549)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars NOTE: Taken from my review of 'LOOKING BACKWARD'.

This album showcased the ideal Rocket Scientists sound. It's the first album to exclusively feature Don Schiff's amazing Chapman Stick skills, and the only album not to feature any other guest musicians, except for Norlander's wife, Lana Lane. Here, RS show their truly progressive side, with more instrumentals, and much longer songs. Right off the bat, BA opens with ''Dark Water Part One'', a chance to let Erik Norlander spread his wings a bit with lush atmosphere. After that is ''Wake Me Up'', where we get to hear Don Schiff put his Stick to good use, although Tommy Amato's drums seem a little bit forced at first. ''Copernicus'' is a rather funky tune, while the title track is a laidback number. ''Nether'' and ''Dark Water Part Two'' are some more instrumentals to chew on before coming the piano ballad that is ''The Fall of Icarus''. ''Resolution'' is a nice pick-me-up after that, but ''Rainy Days & Pastel Grays'' is an absolutely beautiful piece of music that picture some guy would probably sing to some girl to woo her. I would. ''Millennium 3'''s chorus is impossible to shake out of your head, with Schiff's impeccable Stick laying down a good rhythm. The sad ballad ''Mariner'' follows, which didn't really impress me too much, but neither did the bonus track ''Stardust''. All in all, a very nice album to listen to on a rainy day. Just don't forget your pastel grays!

Report this review (#200615)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Copernicus

The first six or so minutes of this second studio album from Rocket Scientists is a pure delight to my ears, but when the vocals enter my interest drops like a stone. The poppy, laidback, Beatlesque lead vocals of Mark McCrite mix like oil and water with the superb Symphonic Prog sound created by Erik Norlander's wonderful keyboards, McCrite's lead guitar, Don Shiff's stick, and Tommy Amato's drums. Whenever they remain in instrumental territory they do a wonderful job on this album, but the vocal passages don't always work for me. They are not bad as such, far from it, but the vocals doesn't always fit in with the rest. Also, I generally prefer more powerful vocalists. It's a matter of personal taste.

It is certainly true that this album is more progressive compared to the first and in many ways more mature. Some songs from this album would go on to become mainstays in Erik Norlander's repertoire both with Rocket Scientists and with his own band. The symphonic ballad Mariner is the foremost of these. It is a great song that since has appeared on several live albums. Personally, I prefer the version featuring Kelly Keeling on lead vocals on Norlander's excellent solo live album Stars Rain Down. The instrumental Dark Water parts one and two appeared here for the first time (while parts three and four would appear on the band's next studio album). Norlander would later put all the Dark Water pieces together into one long piece on his Galactic Collective album.

The Brutal Architecture album was followed by a live release called Earth Below And Sky Above (named after a line in the song Millennium 3). This live album featured songs from the band's first two studio albums including Dark Water part one, Wake Me Up, The Fall Of Icarus, Millennium 3, Mariner, and parts of the title track from the present album. Also the Japanese CD-version bonus track Stardust was performed with Lana Lane on lead vocals. Personally, I generally prefer the live versions of these songs over the studio ones - especially in those cases where lead vocal duties are left to other people.

Still, Brutal Architecture is a good album in its own right with many great moments. I would even say that it is Rocket Scientists' best studio release. But as I have been insisting, one of the abovementioned live albums might be the best place to start.

Report this review (#769242)
Posted Monday, June 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After ''Earthbound'' the line-up of Rocket Scientists was officially expanded to a trio with Don Schiff now performing as a regular member.With Tony Amato again behind the drum kit the group recorded the sophomore effort ''Brutal architecture'', while an agreement with Kinesis had been obtained and the album was eventually released in 1995 on the US label.

''Earthbound'' showed only traces of Rocket Scientists' talent, who's potential starts to be unleashed on this second work.The style became more complicated with longer and more demanding arrangements, while the retro references are more evident and the respect to the masters of the past is clear throughout the listening.Norlander's shifting keyboards, from dark Mellotrons and nostalgic organs to Electronic-inspired synths and even clavinet, are the main reason for the change, next to the technical delivery of a good rhythm section and the enough room for instrumental exercises.Melodies are not absent either with some nice guitar solos by Mark McCrite, while a more accesible approach is still apparent on several tracks.But even these contain a nice amount of good interplays or more symphonic keyboards.The result is an album close to the likes of GLASS HAMMER, AJALON and AKACIA, having an evident US Prog feeling.Vocals are both sensitive and expressive, similar to the diverse musicianship.Additionally Norlander's piano reveals plenty of Classical orientations, that sound absolutely great next to the melodic Neo/Symphonic Prog of the group, which can get very dramatic at moments, showing a nice composing ability and an even brighter future.

''Brutal architecture'' marks a huge step forward for the US group.The music is still a bit unoriginal, but the change towards more elaborate, retro-inspired and intricate compositions was definitely the right move.Recommended, especially to fans of Neo Prog and 70's Classic Prog.

Report this review (#983571)
Posted Friday, June 21, 2013 | Review Permalink

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