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Gerard - Ring of Eternity CD (album) cover




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Marty McFly
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After 26 years, their new release is here. And I hope they haven't lost the fire that fueled them in older ones (I only know their 00s period).

This album isn't optimistic. It's rather dark music with heavy 'n' dense feeling which involves depression too.

Introduction track, eponymous Ring of Eternity plays on very little variation of few tones done by wild keyboards. So the real start is with Night Before Revolution, which is only partially interesting. Electronic modulated vocals aren't really my cup of tea and they don't fit here for me. Justice and Faith is in the similar vein and it changes a little bit with Dawn After the War, which is little bit more symphonic. First track, where I feel heart element included. Track that lives a little bit. Maybe it's because it simply doesn't work with me too well. Long, Long Way To Your Soul features melodic approach to keyboard solos (again wild, as a lot of things here). Land of The Dead, second long "epic" (let's just call it like that) again combines dark and symphonic elements together in slightly better way than before. So not so great first three tracks, I see this as a big improvement. It finally got more textures and meanings. Love Save The World is ballad-like, cal ending to an

4(-) album, that's quite uneven. First 1/3 is terrible, while the rest is superior, even the rest of tracks has its own limits too.

Report this review (#290403)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After long (6 years!) break Toshio Egawa & Co. comes back to life with another fantastic album - "Ring Of Eternity". This time he took on board 2 new members: drummer Kenichi Fujimoto & lead vocalist Yasuo Sasai, and Gerard's veteran Atsushi Hasegawa on bass duties.

Whole album has 7 compositions and only one can be considered as a weak misstep. Let's look at them one by one:

1. "Ring Of Eternity" - album begins with mysterious space rockish synthesizer sounds similar to cosmic moments of Erik Norlander's solo output. After a while music suddenly stops...and Egawa hits us with brutally powerful Hammond chops! I don't remember when last time I've heard so heavy organ attack! Probably only Toshio and his Japanese fellow Keiko Kumagai from "Ars Nova" know how to produce such horrifying sound. Whole track is a highly dynamic instrumental with blazing organ and soaring synthesizers.

2. "Night Before Revolution" - this song starts very lame with some horrible, vocoder modified voices (like "Daft Punk"!), but don't be afraid it's only 3 seconds long section and soon after band shows us their full force again. This composition - just like previous one - is driven by mighty Hammond chops and very good, hardrockish voice of Yasuo Sasai who seems to be perfect replacement for Alex Burnori and Robin G. Suchy which sounded slightly too poppy for me. Yasuo has good English accent (I'm not native English speaker too, but I really think so) and can sing very well in high-register, screaming parts. Very fast but also melodic organ solo in the middle of the track is truly splendid and seems to be inspired by the best moments of Keith Emerson work in 70s.

3. "Justice And Faith" - another great tune bordering between Deep Purple, Rainbow and early ELP. Toshio delivers another aggressive attack of swirling organ and Yasuo sings in great, catchy manner. Take note fiery solo synthesizer built on phenomenal organ "base".

4. "Dawn After The War" - first epic of the album starts with violent and a bit repetitive synthesizer/organ attack. Then tempo changes and Egawa begins to play smooth, ballad-like melody based on beautiful mellotron samples and acoustic piano. Vocalist sing in hymn-like style here and it suits him very well. After this mellowish part tension starts to grow again and Toshio comes back to his trustful Hammond & Korg synth groove. After high-pitched synthesizer section with some mid-east influenced motifs, keyboardist presents us another fascinating wild organ solo full of mind-blowing outbursts and noises. After this energetic moments band calms down again in 3-minutes "outro" of this mini-suite.

5. "Long, Long Way To Your Soul" - one of my favorite in this album. I really like the main motif played by Toshio on some keyboard which sounds like something between piano & clavinet/harpsichord. Together with standard organ bashing it gives great, 70' feeling to the whole song. Vocal is clear and truly rocks here, and during middle section we can hear breathtaking synths solos (including guitar-like one).

6. "Land Of The Dead" - second epic of the album starts to simple piano chops before Hammond and crazy Moog-like synthesizer kick in with powerful fury. Later vocalist join the party with rather dramatic but surely suitable singing. But around 4th minute real thing begin: constant orgy of organ & various types of synthesizers. I especially like second Hammond solo where Toshio goes mad again! Only the ending of this composition is rather poor (acoustic guitar sounds, some synthesized flute and horrible, annoying moaning of the vocalist).

7. "Love Save The World" - unfortunately Gerard decided to finish this great album with this oddity. IT starts with very soft synthesizer layers and later changes into very lame, over-sweet pop ballad about saving the world with love... Man, what a horrible disaster. I can't imagine worst song to end a progressive rock album. It's good that near the end of the song Toshio takes harder approach and deliver couple of tasteful synth solos.

In general this is another fantastic recording of Gerard, where mixed are symphonic prog, neo-prog and melodic heavy metal influences. I especially like that Egawa decided to use even more analog sounding gear (Hammond, piano, Moog-like and mellotron-like synths) then ever before. It's another gem for all keyboard-laden prog fans out there. Along with Gerard's "The Pendulum", "The Ruins Of A Glass Fortress" and "Sighs of the Water" this in another 5 stars album for me.

Report this review (#300768)
Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I am familiar with Gerard some very first bombastic albums as well as with his some more professional and better balanced works from late 90-s. Then I just missed him from my field of musical interest.

This new release of 2010 reminded me about this band, and I was curious how do they sound now? Album's opener " Ring of Eternity " was a real surprise for me - instrumental quite complex and melodic composition full of energy, but well balanced.It reminded me "Birds And Buildings" debut album's opener, and I believe it's a great compliment!

Unhappily, from the very next song I was disappointed a lot: bombastic keyboards maniac Toshio Egawa hardly changed his point of view on his instrument use and importance in band's sound. And even worst - this time main album's sound is AOR, melodic straight-ahead energetic compositions with overbalanced accent on synth sound. Easiest way to imagine how does the band sound is just to remember latest Rainbow albums, where they turned more to American market.

Keyboards' sound is very unpleasant, too "synthetic" , same is with vocals. Somewhere in the end of album compositions turned a bit to later Yes synth-pop influence zone, but in combination with pseudo-dramatic vocals and very simplistic compositions it didn't help.

Album in all sounds as artificial parody-release on some AOR or even symphonic pop-metal bands. Possibly it was better just to stay with my quite good memories from Gerard albums from late 90s-early 00'.

Report this review (#341736)
Posted Friday, December 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Vigor and stylization are two major assets of Gerard's contributions to the worldwide progressive rock scene since the 80s, and as one can feel in each listen of their 2010 release "Ring Of Eternity", they continue to be. For this new prog-pomp-rock venture, keyboardist maestro Toshio Egawa continues to have bassist Atsushi Hasegawa on his side, with newcomers Kenich Fujimoto (himself an experienced drummer in the areas of art-rock, hard rock and prog) and Yasuo Sasai (a tenor rocker). More than a quartet per se, Gerard behaves and sounds like a keyboard-centered power-trio with an extra vocalist, and that's how I feel that this album should be perceived. "Rong Of Eternity" kicks off with the namesake instrumental, which sound Emersonianly electrifying, somewhere between the "Brain Salad" days and the "Emerson, Lake & Powell" approach. 'Night Before The Revolution' is the next in line, the first sung track: it states a midway between classic saga and first-album Asia with a bit of "1984"-era Wakeman included in the mix. The same line of work is followed in 'Justice And Faith', with the added factor that the bassist's input is more intricate, which in turn helps the band to make a more grandiose statement about their own progressive vision. But again, Egawa's keyboards are the instruments that fill the leading role non-stop throughout the band's excursions. 'Dawn After The War' occupies the next 10 minutes in the album: the instrumental parts are vibrant and intrepidly full of muscle, while the sung parts are slower. The suite's coda brings an aura of typically progressive distinction to its motto perpetuo, pretty much like the Impressionistic school. This piece has just revealed itself as a highlight. In many ways, the next track 'Long, Long Way To Your Soul' keeps the previous one's dominant solemnity going on, although its melodic structure makes it stand near tracks 2 6 3. The other suite in the album, 'Land Of The Dead', fills a 12 minute space with full symphonic splendor: again, we find an alternation of splendidly ravaging instrumental passages and softer sung sections. The album's closer is 'Love Save The World', a symphonic-related ballad that starts with interesting cosmic synth layers and a brief bass guitar solo, and then focuses in a Toto- meets-Asia main body. All in all, "Ring Of Eternity" is a modern progressive catalogue that does not turn out to be Gerard's best work, nor it breaks new ground in the realm of symphonic prog, but it is a good album that can be easily enjoyed and appreciated.
Report this review (#366781)
Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | Review Permalink

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