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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Classic rock presents: Prognosis 8 CD (album) cover


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Symphonic Team
4 stars "Prognosis 8" comes from Classic Rock Presents Prog as a sampler of new prog and works as a taster of what to expect from modern prog album. This one is very good with the likes of IO Earth, Syzygy, Aeon Zen, To-Mera, and Panic Room. As usual there are bands here I have never heard of but it was nice to see what is out there and it gives a solid sense of whether I would like to hear more. If the sampler causes me to seek out the artists then it has done its job. The songs I particularly love are the first few.

IOEarth's 'Harmonix' has delightful guitar work and some exceptional keyboards and mellotron. It is the 17th track of their 94 minute epic self titled debut from 2009 and features Dave Cureton and Adam Gough both on guitars, keys, bass, programming, and vocals. A special mention to the brilliant percussion work of Richard Cureton too. This is a tremendous prog journey and an album well worth seeking out.

Up next is yet another track from Syzygy that are on many of these samplers. 'Dreams' is from their 2009 "Realms of Eternity" release and is as good as anything I have heard from them. A heavy guitar riff is joined by keyboard augmentations and the bass and drum machine of Al Rolik and Paul Mihacevich. The wah-wah guitar solo of Carl Baldassarre is outstanding as are Sam Giunta's sparkling keyboards. This is another of the more lengthy tracks on a sampler and is definitely a highlight.

Aeon Zen are represented with 'Visions' from 2010 "The Face of the Unknown" with powerhouse vocalist Andi Kravljaca. The quirky time signature changes are like Meshuggah or an insane metal version of Gentle Giant. The heavy treatment of the guitars is a blast of power after hearing the symphonic music previously. The lead break is killer and blastbeats of percussion are complimented by sustained keyboard layers. Definitely one of the great tracks on a Prognosis sampler.

To-mera's 'Arcane Solace' is taken from the "Earthbound" EP and has a grungy guitar riff played on an odd time sig. the chugging choppy metal blasts are contrasted by soaring sweet songbird vocals from Julie Kiss. The prog metal is well performed and very heavy distortion crunches grind over ambient symphonic keyboard as Julie soars over the top. It works well really generating the best of both worlds, like a metal aggression band playing over a symphonic instrumental band. The pace quickens half way through and complex time sig changes blaze and then a lead break dominates from Tom MacLean. A simply wonderful metal blaster with exceptional vocals, and again I am hearing a female lead band that will be hunted down eventually.

Chimp Spanner is an instrumental artist featured with 'Under One Sky' from "At the Dream's Edge". He shreds on lead guitar, at least riffs heavily as he plays over the top of soaring lead breaks. It settles later after this volcanic section into a serene ambience of piano until the next section that is choppy technical metal blasts and a blistering fret melting lead break.

Awake by Design's 'Silence Undone' follows, from the album "Sentiment", another metal rocker with solid synths mixed to the front. The melody driven vocals and guitars are endearing. The sextet certainly generates a powerful sound, and I like the way the guitar thrashing makes way for synth passages and atmospherics.

From Great Height's 'Initial' is taken from the self titled demo. They have not released an album and therefore are not on the database here but the music rings of 80s metal with a prog edge. Perhaps is more alternative than prog but this is quite enjoyable music.

Auto De Fe's 'Appomattox' is next from their EP of the same name. it is loud and boisterous rock with echoed vocals, a bit like a heavier Radiohead. Some electronic influences are heard with harder edged rock like the Cardiacs but not as technical. I don't mind this at all especially the ringing guitars and simplistic melodies. This is a great sound and it clocks 10 and a half minutes.

Only Until are represented with an excerpt from 'Oscilloscope Rhythms', from the album "Nebula" on Hollow Soul Records. The jazzy syncopated drums are outstanding on this and there is an avant garde feel on the time sigs and general structure. This is an instrumental band that could do with a decent vocalist to add fuel to the fire but I liked this track.

Panic Room close the sampler with 'Satellite' from the legendary "Satellite" album on Firefly Records. This is also the closing track on the album with accomplished musicianship from Paul Davies on guitars, Jonathan Edwards on keyboards, Gavin John Griffiths on drums and Alun Vaughan on bass. The real drawcard is again the powerful high octave vocals of Anne Marie Helder who also plays guitars and keyboards. The musicianship is incredible, with ambient textures and crescendos, and the vocals of Helder are incomparable. She hits those notes bang on target; "circling the heavens, past the moons of Jupiter, I set my sights on distant sights, where I belong, satellite, I'm searching for you, inner light, I find it." The symphonic layers are dense as she croons sweetly and it is a beautiful soundscape. This is definitely an album worth pursuing and one of my favourite Prognosis tracks.

Overall this sampler is a great example of how to do it right with many styles represented but nothing too outlandish. There are many new bands who have demos or only one release and they are well represented here. It is a shame that a lot of bands have not found their way here on Progarchives, namely Awake by Design, From Great Height, Auto De Fe, and Only Until, but it is still nice to hear them at least on this sampler, and here is hoping they eventually can be recognised for their progressive music if they continue to create any. I would rate this as one of the better samplers from the great Prog magazine due to the high quality of music on offer.

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Posted Saturday, March 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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