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4 stars Definitelly IZZ is one of the most pleasant and valuable American bands in today;s progressive world!Thay have already some beautiful albums released,and I am sure a solid base of fans,because their live activity,even not too intense,is at least regular! The albums are self released at their own label and with a better distribution and a solid label behid they would have had a more wide recognition at a higher level !They are simply competent,gifted to deliver a serious musical "offering" to the good prog lovers!This THE DARKENED ROOM is a trully complete album,a very mature one which must put IZZ in the Pantheon of VERY GOOD prog rock bands worldwide!Everything is so well done,starting with the superbe texts and the worked,elaborated and mature melody lines!CAN'T FEEL THE EARTH is a true masterpiece ,with it's 20 minutes timing ,divided into 3 distinctive and separated parts,a central highlight of the album!Sensational inspiration to compose such an inspired moment of true magical touch!Great vocal armonies and majestic musicianship!All the other songs are so inspired and this albumis the fruit of some ygood ears of labour for very good and high quality prog music! 4,5 stars and sinceres congratulations for this sure value of the American prog in the style of Echolyn,Spock's beard and other icons of the genre.
Report this review (#256599)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the brilliant My River Flows, The Darkened Room rose toward the top of my must-have list for 2009. The production is crisp and clear but not inhuman, and the band is probably at their tightest-sounding. I especially love how this group uses an array of creative tones and sounds and yet maintains their unique identity as a band. Fans of acts like IQ will find much to love about this release. There's approximately fifteen minutes of this album I'm consistently disappointed with, but the rest of it is fantastic.

"Swallow Our Pride" Atmospheric, low guitar, gentle percussion, and soft vocals begin the record. The easing in of the harmonic feminine singing is a welcome moment. The listener is then treated to a warbling synthesizer solo and some heavy guitar.

"Day of Innocence" I was not expecting an acoustic guitar and bass duet here, but that's what ensues- a very pleasant piece of music that picks up with some drums and electric guitar later on.

"Regret" A great progressive pop song with a prominent bass and a few light instrumental passages, this is a catchy little song that really offers the best of IZZ in a stripped-down manner.

"Can't Feel the Earth, Part I" I don't particularly care for this track. There's a disharmony throughout, with a lot of "falling-down-the-stairs" piano moments. The electric guitar work here is a compensation.

"Ticking Away" That strange rhythm and bass work is brilliant, and the vocals are magnificent. This is for me the best track on the album- a real treat with some remarkable vocal harmonies and gorgeous, uplifting melodies.

"Can't Feel the Earth, Part II" After a fast-paced bit of guitar and synthesizer, ghostly female vocals and searing electric guitar create impassioned melodies over a musical bed that demonstrates pure sonic craftsmanship. The male vocals during the piano-led, almost ELP-like section aren't quite as convincing, and neither is the composition during this time, since it admittedly sounds like a jazzy mess.

"Stumbling" Exhibiting their fine dynamics once again, this song features floating vocals over a jazz-infused rock backing. While not their best moment, it's still quite good.

"The Message" Thudding bass and delicate piano create a foundation for soft vocals and lead guitar interruptions. Like the previous track, this one is decent but substandard for IZZ.

"23 Minutes of Tragedy" One of the most immediately gripping tracks for me the first time I heard this album- ethereal guitar and wraithlike vocals craft memorable melodies and powerful moments. The lead guitar solo rips through the music, as the whole atmosphere adopts a Pink Floyd-like visage. Finally, the new synthesizer-led theme is pure magic, drawing the piece to a mighty conclusion.

"Can't Feel the Earth, Part III" The final, contemplative track has a progressive country flavor initially, but soon becomes more like typical IZZ, once again boasting great dual vocals, intriguing bass, rocking lead guitar, and some fine keyboard wizardry- as I said, typical IZZ.

Report this review (#279844)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars IZZ is a very good neo/heavy prog group much in the vein of PORCUPINE TREE and RIVERSIDE whose discography is just below that threshold of "top tier." Often very catchy (sometimes syrupy) melodies, tagged onto dark, heavy music performed buy very accomplished musicians. The guitarist and keyboardists, in particular, are quite masterful at their respective instruments. The Darkened Room is my favorite IZZ album. Great recording engineering and production.

Album highlights: 1. "Swallow Our Pride" (5:16) (8/10); the EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER-like classically-tinged 4. "Can't Feel the Earth, Part I" (4:39) (8/10); the female-vocal-laden, AYREON-like 6. "Can't Feel the Earth, Part II" (10:37) (9/10); 9. "23 Minutes of Tragedy" (7:00) (9/10), and; 10. "Can't Feel the Earth, Part III" (5:08) (9/10).

4.5 stars, almost a masterpiece but in reality an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Report this review (#419314)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars It is difficult to discuss these boys instrumentalist expertise. The during Darkened Room it is seen clearly. The music takes hold in the excellent parts of piano, keyboards and guitar contributions. The album shows a more mature that 'My River Flows', but I like more the one published in 2005.

Here the blend between symphonic progressive, with a dose of alternative rock and some electronic, not completely captivates me.

In '23 Minutes of Tragedy ' is where they achieve a greater impact on that effort, great song. At other times, as in 'Can not Feel the Earth part I and III' and 'Regret', also achieve a good musical atmosphere.  

Report this review (#988852)
Posted Saturday, June 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Izz were formed in the Nineties, and even though this album is from 2009, those Nineties influences are plain to hear. This is symphonic progressive rock from a band at the very top of their game, and given that since this album they have recruited former Gentle Giant and current 3 Friends guitarist, Gary Green, into the line-up, I am incredibly intrigued to hear what they are doing now. Harmony vocals? Yup. Plenty of intricately woven melodies? Check. Music that makes the listener stay through to the end and then hit repeat? Double check. This is one of the most exciting albums I have heard from the States since I first came across Spock's Beard, Glass Hammer, Discipline, Timothy Pure and Iluvatar back in the day. It has that sort of impact, and whatever passage I am listening to, of whatever song, is the best bit. There is some beautiful bass on this album, and while they rarely come across as anyone else, there are times when it sounds as if Chris Squire has his hand on the frets.

They're not afraid to slow it down, and bring in just gentle piano and vocals (and a triangle ? when was the last time you heard one of those on a prog album?). "Can't feel The Earth (Pt.1)" is incredible from start to end, with as much owed to modern classical music as it does to traditional progressive rock (although there are a few Gentle Giant tendencies it must be said). The more I played this he more I kept telling myself that these guys are still active, and released four studio albums before this one and three afterwards (as well as a live album and a DVD) so what are the others like? I feel that I have been missing out, yet at the same time am excited that there is so much more great music to discover by these guys. They released their debut album some eighteen years ago and are still going strong, which is quite some achievement.

Quite simply, if you enjoy progressive rock, then this is an album that you just have to get, and once you have fallen in love with this as I have, then there is plenty more out there to discover.

Report this review (#1676334)
Posted Thursday, January 5, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Excellent music between progressive pop and Classic Prog"

IZZ is a four piece formation that was founded in the second half of the Nineties, after their well received debut CD entitled Sliver Of A Sun (1999) IZZ released another six studio-albums (along a live CD and live DVD), their latest effort is Ampersand, Volume 2 from 2016. This review is about their highly acclaimed fifth album The Darkened Room, from 2009.

From the very first moment I listened to the new album The Darkened Room I am very impressed about their music, how captivating, thrilling, emotional, compelling, and especially original progressive rock music these skilled musicians have created! OK, it's obvious that The Beatles, Genesis and Yes are a source of inspiration but these elements are very wonderfully blended with their own ideas and the many surprising twists and turns. In fact you can compare IZZ with fellow USA progrock band Spock's Beard because of the blend of Seventies Prog and the evolution of an own sound. And that's what we witness here, outstanding music that range from progressive pop (the catchy Ticking Away) to Classic Prog inspired music.

Like the 76-77 Genesis-oriented 23 Minutes Of Tragedy featuring twanging acoustic guitars, bas pedals and a Hackett/Banks sound. But the inventive arrangements and many strong musical ideas turn this compsoition into something very special and exciting, like a spectacular synthesizer solo, howling guitar and emotional vocals. These elements are also in the other tracks.

An interlude with soaring Mellotron turns into a part with heavy guitar riffs and flashy synthesizer in Swallow Your Pride (great male vocals).

In Day Of Innocence a mellow first part with twanging acoustic guitar and high pitched vocals shifts into a heavy conclusion with fat riffs, thunderous drums and fiery guitar.

In Regret there's a bass solo before a sumptuous final part.

And in Can't Feel The Earth Part I a Grand piano is omnipresent along Brian May-like guitar, majestic choir- Mellotron and fat Minimoog and in the end a xylophone sound is beautifully blended with the other instruments.

The highlights are the very compelling compositions Can't Feel The Earth Part II en III, enjoy the 24-carat symphonic rock, loaded with exciting Mellotron and synthesizer solos, changing atmospheres and heavy guitar play, this is a Prog Heaven!

Report this review (#1953692)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2018 | Review Permalink

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