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CONFLICT AND DREAMS

Cairo

Symphonic Prog


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arqwave@lycos
3 stars better record than it's predecessor, tighter but with "inner troubles", in here we are facing the struggle they have to compose their songs and sometimes they KNOW they're evoking groups of the past, however, the record has a solid foundation. The keys got more pressence here than before, and the complexity of the songs gets more fluid. a fair second album for a band trying to get in the map of prog.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1361)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I don't know exactly for what reason that I spin the CD of this album that I got it 1999 (I used to put date of purchase in my CD jewel). I never pay enough attention for the band as at that time I think I was so amazed with Citizen Cain and Sinkadus that I purchased also around the same period. Having listened to more than 5 times, I think it's fair now for me to review this album. Overall, this album is excellent. The band has a bright future with the kind of music they play. Their music is relatively complex and heavily influenced by GENESIS, MARILLION, IQ and ELP. I would say that this is when GENESIS meets ELP. On top of that, they have great musicianship especially keyboard and guitar, and songwriting.

The opening track "Angels and Rage" surprised me with the kind of keyboard melody and nuance similar to GENESIS's "Cul-De-Sac" of "Duke" album. It appears at intro part. But when the music enters its body, it's totally different kind of composition. This opening track is really uplifting with stunning keyboard and guitar. The kind of vocal voice of the band is similar to CAST. The second track "Corridors" is opened by keyboard style that reminds me to Keith Emerson play in ELP. Again, this is an excellent track. The keyboard style is really stunning. In some parts of the song, guitar fills are sometime similar to S HACKETT style. This is a kind of track that I enjoy very much.

The intro part of "Western Desert" reminds me to IQ "Nomzamo"; not in the melody but in the musical nuances. This track has dynamic drumming and stunning guitar in the style of STEVE HACKETT. If you don't know the band, you may guess that this song is played by STEVE HACKET. This song has a relatively long (approx. 4 minutes) instrumental piece at the beginning of the track with great guitar and keyboard sound. Again, you may find KEITH EMERSON style of keyboard especially in a kind of sound like "boiling water" sound (you know what I mean). The solo keyboard by Mark Robertson in the middle of the track is wonderful. It is accompanied by Alec Fuhrman on guitars. Great composition.

"Image" is a short instrumental track with acoustic guitar and piano played with classical music touch. "Then You Were Gone" is not as complex as previous tracks. It has a nice light guitar riff that accentuates the song. I like the interlude part with great lead guitar and keyboard. The album is concluded excellently with "Valley Of The Shadow", another great track. If you want to identify the heavy influence of ELP, it is in this track. I really enjoy the keyboard / organ / piano style here. If you enjoy ELP or TRIUMVIRAT, you may enjoy this album. Wonderful!

Overall, this is an excellent album with strong songwriting, great and skillful musicians. The only thing that this group should improve is probably on the production quality. If this album was produced with better sonic quality of the CD, I am sure it will be perfect! This album is definitely recommended! Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1363)
Posted Sunday, July 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
thesilentman@
2 stars When coming up with ideas for a focus for this 'review', I came up with such one-liners as:

My coat's on the floor...where's the hook?!

or

...too white

What I mean to say is; although these guys can play their balls off; I've yet to hunger, anticipate, revel in the joy that Prog Rock can bring even after many listenings to this note- filled tome.

These guys play technically better than ELP, sing almost as well as Yes and have a sense for the Debusseyesque textures of Genesis but they've not guts maaan!

A jazz piano teacher once told me that from Jazz to Rock to Clasical and everything in between "everything is the blues". What I understand that to mean is that in every great piece of music there's an underlying pain, tension or deeply felt emotion that keeps the listener and the player enthralled from note to note. On this album such events are few and far between and unfortunately, polished down to a Muzakish shine that robs the music of any success it may have in reaching the listener's emotions.

So, my hope is that someone, somewhere out there tell me where the beef is in today's Prog Rock. Spock's Beard is okay and I've yet to digest the Flower Kings so the juries out yet; but I know deep in my heart something is out there that will wake me and the world up to the true magnificence that the best of Progressive Rock can be in this, the 21st century!

(music up, holy choir crescendos, my head explodes)

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1364)
Posted Sunday, July 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
thesilentman@
2 stars About two years ago I was a huge progressive metal fan. So I potentially praised every release by Inside Out or Magna Carta. And so when I saw a Magna Carta label on Cairo's "Conflict And Dreams" I immediately bought it. That was the time when the legend didn't meet my expectations. Two years ago this CD was for me too hard to digest. It was to minimalist in approach for a prog-metal release, the production was too raw ( in a negative meaning ) and I couldn't stand the horrible vocal melodies that Bred Douglas was singing. But since those two years my tastes in music matured. But did I liked Cairo's second release better? No! I find it now even worst than earlier. Still I think that it has a bad production and the singing is terrible. This is a pretentious recording with a lot of annoying crescendos, uninspired melodies and irritating rip-offs from Yes and ELP. I admit that there are some "moments" but they are so rare that you probably don't want to find them anyway. If you are looking for today's good progressive rock, go for Spock's Beard or even Glass Hammer and leave Cairo to people that didn't like them. Try at your own risk.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1365)
Posted Saturday, July 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
progdrum@aol.
3 stars This would be Cairo's 2nd, and its not much of a departure from the 1st CD. except on the whole I personally like the songs a bit better on this one. Keyboardist Mark Robertson's solo's have calmed down a bit on the Keith Emersonism's.. Cairo have been criticized for being blatant rip-offs on the ELP sound and I can see where those critic's are coming from but those comparisons (to these ears) are only during Mr. Robertson's dominatingly long keyboard solo excursion's. The actual songs themselves don't really refer to ELP much. Out of the 6 songs on this CD (totaling 67 min.) only 2 of them (Western Desert and Valley of the Shadow) seem to imitate ELP and that's only during the instrumental part and when the keyboards are wailing away. They do not use odd time signatures much and there is no acoustic guitar or even any soft songs like ELP had on all their albums. Then there's another thing that ELP never had, Alec Fuhrman, Cairo's former brilliant guitarist. He IS what separated Cairo from most of the 90s/2000s bombastic, keyboard driven prog bands, With his fluid, harmonious and thematic playing he is not your typical prog rock guitar player. It would seem he does not play very many chord's but chooses instead to play his guitar in a way that it weaves in and around the music and vocals, much in the way Steve Hackett did in Genesis. He does not sound like Mr. Hackett at all but his style within the song structure is much the same and I really dig it. As a matter of fact on Cairo's 3rd release he was replaced by 2 or 3 guest guitarist and to me this was not a good move. Kinda like when Steve Hackett quit Genesis, it was still good but there was an immediate and unmistakable presence missing and Cairo is now not the same because of his departure. I like this CD, especially the songs "Angels and Rage" and "Western Desert". I wish I could give it a 3 ˝ star rating but will opt for 3. The drumming is good but not spectacular. He's no Carl Palmer and that's OK because as I said before these songs are not ELP imitations. The vocals of Bret Douglas are in that Greg Lake/John Wetton range. (Although Bret sometimes goes into a higher register then the 2 former) But his voice is different enough that it he does not come off sounding like a rip-off/wanna-be. All the members are good enough to be playing this style of music, the song writing is above par and their music is a wonderful bridge between prog rock past and present Its not prog metal, not Neo. Not old school prog but a decent and new sounding mix of the 3. And then there's that great guitar playing.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1366)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
mharringtin@d
4 stars If you can imagine what Yes would have sounded like if they had replaced Rick Wakeman with Keith Emerson (instead of Patrick Moraz) you get the general gist of Cairo. A lot of people have written them off as ELP clones, but listen closely and you'll hear a lot more going on (especially the guitarist). Highly enjoyable.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1367)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
frebre@web.de
5 stars Stunning, outstanding, mind-blowing, complex, masterful playing & good production.... I never would have believed that a non-british progrock band could deliver such an outstnading album. You hear influences from: ELP, YES, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, UK and others. This band is the best progrock band at this moment. Pitty that thy made only 3 albums in 8 years. The technical standard (playing) on this album is extremly high. This is nothing short than sensational IMHO. If you like Yes/ELP/UK/KC than you MUST listen to this. Is this the music Pharao Kings listen to?

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#1369)
Posted Saturday, April 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is my first experience with CAIRO. I did hear a better than average rendition of "Squonk" on a tribute to GENESIS CD put out by their label, MAGNA CARTA. I'd heard they were supposed to be some kind of ELP clone and while there are some moments where they sound incredibly like the former, that make them no different from let's say... THE FLOWER KINGS who also do a good ELP. This album is all over the place when it comes to picking out influential references including GENESIS and even RUSH. What I like about this album is the sencerity in the compositions. They aren't so much aping the great bands, more like paying homage to their predicessors. Their music in terms of content and fluidity is their own.

I can't say that you will hear anything that hasn't been heard before if you're a long time fan of the genre as I am, but it's done with enough tweaking and enough freshness that it doesn't take away from the fact that this band is above average in musicianship and in creativity. None of their songs are "knockoffs" of older more traditional songs. You won't catch yourself going, "that sounds like Supper's Ready" or that reminds me of "Roundabout". or any such nonsense. The most amazing thing to me about this CD and the band that produced it, are from the U.S. I wasn't sure American bands had the wherewithall to produce this quality progressive material. NORTH STAR got close with "TEMPEST" but in the end they missed the mark.

This album is a good addition to any collection but just misses the "Essential" tag by a hair.

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Send comments to Trafficdogg (BETA) | Report this review (#35931)
Posted Thursday, June 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the type of album that will blow you away the firt tiem you listing to it, and will keep blowing you away every time you listen to it. the complexity of their work is just owesomely great, this one is just one step higher that their debut "Cairo" you can find Cairos roots coming all the way from Cairo, but for the most part you can find them to Bay Area, where Magna Carta Records has done it again with "Conflict and Dreams" one of their strongest efforts... well back to the music....oldo Cairo has its owed identity, you can find trases of Yes, ELP and the best of Genesis....lots of tempo changes, keybord driven music with lucious guitar playing, owesome drummin.....Oh! I just love them.. remember that typesound that dominated the early Progresive groups, well its all here but with even a higher energy and complexity...I should warned you, this is nothing but owesomely progresive music...if you find a fever coming on, dont worry, a long time love afair with "Cairo" will take care of it... highly recommended for new, old and very old prog. fans!

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Send comments to Mickolay (BETA) | Report this review (#88297)
Posted Monday, August 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Having heard the MP3 sample of "Corridors" I was interested enough to buy the CD, but i was very disappointed, "Corridors" is the best track but all the others sound the same - fast, cluttered, unstructured, littered with ELP signatures - though i would more readily compare this "clutter" with Asia. This is definitely not Prog rock, merely a poor caricature, it sounds like a dated early 70's pop group, so bad i couldn't stand to listen to it for long. sorry folks, not everything on Progarchives is good, there are a plethora of imposters and pretenders here too, i won't get fooled again.

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#89319)
Posted Saturday, September 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Cairo is known as a band that sounds like EMERSON LAKE & PALMER and YES. I can agree to this in a way but they are certainly no immitation of any band. Cairo has a unique own sound mainly because of the singer. It's a fast operating band and it almost seems as if they improvise especially during their longer tracks . This is probably not the case but it shows that these are great musicians, best example is Mark Robertson with his almost endless organsolos. Best track to me is Western Desert, a fantastic epic. Another fine song is Then you were gone which brings out a great atmosphere. Angels and Rage as well as Valley of the Shadow are somewhat heavier and are fairly accessible songs. Corridors is a slightly less impressive one but still good.

Overall a fantastic effort from these American proggers that can only be rewarded with 5 stars

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#138236)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Cairo's sophomore release, Conflict and Dreams, came out four years after their promising debut. The time between albums certainly showed a difference with the band starting to show its own identity, yet retaining the influences that attracted many to their first album. Again, Cairo gives itself much room for instrumental development as the song lengths range from 8 1/2 to 17 minutes (with the exception of a 1 1/2 minute interlude), with four of the six tracks timing in at over 10 minutes.

Like on their debut, the instrumentation strongly leans towards Mark Robertson's bombastic keyboard playing. Robertson is clearly a serious study in Keith Emerson's style of playing. This was extremely evident on Cairo's debut, but on Conflict and Dreams, Robertson has eased up and begins to have his own personality shine through the swaths of keyboard soundscapes. The rest of the band seems a little tighter, a lot more original, and a bit more advanced in their instrumental prowess. Yet, the one problem that bothered me with their debut, bothers me on this album too: that of muddy-like production. Again, an album from 1998 should not necessarily sound like it was recorded in 1974, unless that was done by intention. I can't see that this was intended to be like this. It kind of gives Cairo a bit of a garage band essence.

Still, I enjoyed the performance and the amazing energy of this band. Some of the songs are longer than they probably should be, but for some reason that doesn't bother me here. And like their debut, lead singer Bret Douglas is an acquired taste. I think his voice suits this band nicely, but many of you are likely to disagree with me and this may present a stumbling block for you.

An excellent symphonic prog release with influences from ELP, Yes, Genesis, and perhaps a little Asia. One of the better ones from the 1990s. Four stars. It could have been a masterpiece with better production and recording facilities.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#162124)
Posted Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Cairo is a symphonic prog band from USA who combines very well their music with progressive metal in places. Also their music is highly influenced by ELP, and here and there by bands like Asia specialy on vocal parts and UK. Anyway Cairo plays an extremly well crafted music, the musicianship is top notch, the songwriting is excellent, what elese, a great album. Almost all the pieces are above 8 minutes, 4 of them above 10 - enough time for the musicians to express themself in symphonic prog field, with plenty of good ideas. The music is very uptempo with a great energy of musicians who did an excelent job here. First time I've listned to this band i've noticed how easy this guys plays, very enjoyble moments through the album with catcy choruses and strong musicianship. Every single musician from here is realy good at his instrument, delivering some very inventiv and in the same time very effcient and strong interplays between guitar of Alec Fuhrman with the keys of Mark Robertson. The voice is very high with a lots of twists, sometimes he reminds me of Asia or John Wetton in places, but Bret Douglas has his own range and quality of interpretation. So the best pieces are all, not a weak moment here, every single one is top notch from A to Z, a real winner. Why they never make big with such clever music I don't understand, maybe because of the weak promotion, maybe because they disbanded after next album from 2001, who knows. Anyway it's a shame that bands like Cairo don't get so much attention these days, because their prog is among the best available on market, easely this album Conflict and dreams from 1998 is one of the top albums of the '90's and not only. I will give 4 stars without hesitation, very solid album with tight musicianship. Excellent and recommended.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#191463)
Posted Tuesday, December 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars The second album from Cairo continues the path begun on the first album. The sound to mix is as if you combined ELP with Utopia. The Addition of Jamie Browne on bass is a plus. His comlex fills add to the already densely packed music, although he's mixed a bit down for my taste as a bassist.

The songs, except for a brief keyboard interlude are all epics, the shortest being almost eight and a half minutes, and the rest all over ten minutes. And while the entire band is exceptionally talented, the highlight here again is keyboardist Mark Robertson, whose admiration of the great Keith Emerson is absolutely evident. In fact, to my ears, this is better than any ELP album since "Welcome Back My Friends..."

So if you like your prog loud and bombastic (I do), like to hear a talented keyboardist impersonating Keith Emerson (I do), this is a good choice.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#220693)
Posted Thursday, June 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Just as their debut album, this one is only interesting while the band performs their derivative ELP sounding music. As such, "Corridors" is by far my favourite. The addition of fine guitar work only adds to the feel. Unfortunately, there aren't many of this kind on this album.

The long "Western Desert" is another of the same vein: a fantastic introduction with a dramatic wild guitar and an orgy of keyboards. The beat is quite sustained during this wonderful intro. The cake is unfortunately falling down as soon as the vocals enter the scene (somewhat before the four minutes barrier).

Fortunately, these vocals don't last for long, and the instrumental maestria is shining brightly again after this useless interlude. Of course, don't expect any novelty since these moments are totally borrowed to ELP but still: it remains another very good moment of this album.

Surprisingly enough, during "Then You Were Gone", vocals are pretty good: high pitched and convincing. Actually, it is probably the best part of this song which, again, severely leans towards the glorious band of the seventies which I have named already quite a few times.

Another long song is following: "Valley Of The Shadow": it holds all the excesses that could lead to a love/hate affair in the ELP repertoire. This one is no other and exploits every facet of their prestigious predecessors. A bit too much if you want to know my opinion. Too much is too much, right?

Any way, this is a good album. Full of nostalgia for old freaks who are willing to listen to some ELP derivative extravaganza. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#267226)
Posted Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh What a great album we have here, to every progressive rock fan in general and keyboard driven prog in particular! Some of the most exciting elements from Emerson Lake & Palmer sound are presented here, although with a more modern and agressive edge with the inclusion of electric guitar, sometimes vey cloud and heavy. But the beloved elements from ELP take a proeminent rule here, be in the bombast, be in the presence of the Hammond organ, played in the same vein as Mr Keith Emerson. The other band players also shine and the vocalist really delivers. It´s a real pity this band has dissapeared.

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Send comments to keyboardproger (BETA) | Report this review (#281212)
Posted Monday, May 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Although largely unknown by the progressive rock community, Conflict and Dreams is certainly one of the better prog albums from the second half of the nineties'. Cairo was an impressive American band who took the very best of classic progressive rock, neo-prog, and even generous helpings of progressive metal; the end result being, of course, the magnificent Conflict and Dreams. This is their second full-length album, despite being my introduction to their music. After many thorough listens, I can only claim that this is a magnificent album that every fan of the genre should take a listen to; this is a truly underrated gem.

Cairo has been criticized for sounding too much like ELP by some reviewers, but I only hear occasional ELP references here - a few Hammond organ sections and synth passages undoubtedly bring Keith Emerson to mind, yet I tend to the think that Conflict and Dreams sounds much more modern, AOR-influenced, and heavy than these seventies' pioneers. In addition to the occasional ELP tendencies, I also hear traces of UK, Marillion, and IQ, and even some leanings towards Dream Theater and Rush. Cairo, while not a completely revolutionary band, did have a pretty original sound and their convincing style of epic-based songwriting really made Conflict and Dreams an excellent album. Five of the songs here exceed the eight minute mark, two of which reach above fifteen minutes. The album tends to feel a bit too long in some spots, and a bit of trimming around the edges could've made it even stronger; still, Cairo manages to make their music pretty accessible by including fantastic choruses in each of the tracks as well as some unforgettable instrumental portions. My favorite track here is probably the opening cut, "Angels and Rage" - a pretty accurate title for this song, indeed. This ten-minute track is filled with blistering instrumental portions, an unforgettable chorus, and plenty of key changes and fluid transitions. All of the other tracks are also pretty excellent, and I especially must give a nod to the seventeen-minute "Western Desert"; the keyboard playing in this track is jaw dropping, to say the least.

One of the best aspects of Conflict and Dreams is simply listening to how well these guys are capable of playing. These are absolute top-of-the-line musicians, and it's hard to not be amazed by the sheer complexity of many solos and riff patterns throughout the album. Keyboard player Mark Robertson often steals the show here, with his lush palette of sounds usually playing a dominant role in the music. Alec Fuhrman delivers quite a few excellent solos here, and he often reminds me of guitarists like Steve Rothery - definitely not a bad thing when it's coming from me! The Greg Lake-styled vocals of Bret Douglas are also pretty great, and I think his powerful and commanding singing style suits the music perfectly. The production leaves a bit to be desired, and it sounds a little dated by today's standards, but it's far from a major hindrance.

All in all, Conflict and Dreams is a very successful effort from Cairo that comes strongly recommended to all fans of classic progressive rock with a heavy dosing of neo-prog and progressive metal. It's a shame that this album is so unrecognized by the prog community; this really is one of the genre's more impressive albums from the late nineties'. 4 stars and a strong recommendation are warranted without hesitation.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#570901)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Angels and rage

Out of the classic Symphonic Prog bands of the 1970's, Genesis seems to be the one that has attracted the highest number of followers (most notably in the British Neo- Prog movement). King Crimson and Yes have their fair share of followers too, though there seems to be a lot less of them in comparison. Emerson Lake & Palmer have even fewer followers. Cairo has elements of several of these and other bands, but the influence of the latter band on the sound of Conflict And Dreams is undeniable. Mark Robertson's keyboard playing is very much in the style of Keith Emerson, both in playing style and in the actual keyboard sounds he uses. This is especially true of the Hammond organ, but the synthesizers and the classical piano too readily bring Emerson to mind. The drumming of Jeff Brockman and the bass playing of Jamie Browne is also rather similar to that of Carl Palmer and Greg Lake respectively. But there the similarities with Emerson Lake & Palmer stop. The sound of Conflict And Dreams is indeed keyboard-dominated, but they also rely heavily on the (mostly electric) guitars of Alec Fuhrman, and the lead vocals of Bret Douglas are more Journey/Boston-like (but the backing vocals are more towards Yes). Cairo is thus more Rock than Emerson Lake & Palmer ever was. Traces of Kansas can also be heard.

Some say they can detect traces Dream Theater, but even though the success and fame of Dream Theater most probably helped a lot to pave the way for bands like Cairo, the Metal influences in Cairo's music are superficial at best. It is perhaps true that Cairo wear their influences on their sleeves, but it is unfair to dismiss them as an Emerson Lake & Palmer-clone or a "retro-Prog" act. Cairo utilizes a modern production and injects some modern influences into their brand of Symphonic Prog.

All members are clearly very talented and the actual material is strong and melodic. The albums consists of six tracks, four of which are over ten minutes in running length which creates lots of opportunities for great instrumental workouts without becoming directionless. All the songs are good, but Angels And Rage and Corridors are the absolute highlights for me. The album is very good as a whole, but I feel that the first half of the album is somewhat stronger than the second half. It was wise of them to put a short and relaxing instrumental after the 17 minute plus mastodon of Western Desert which helps tp keep the album varied. But despite this, with a total running time of over an hour, I must admit that the excitement tends to wear off a little bit towards the end of the final track. But once it is over, I desire to hear the album again which is the mark of a great album.

Highly recommended!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#614536)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2012 | Review Permalink

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