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Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Mexican act Rizengard's Chapter 21 is their debut album, apparently coming as a result of 15 years of composition (!) even if the band was put together only recently in 2010. It is fairly clear that here we have an experienced bunch of musicians, technically skilled and with a great variety of influences, which is displayed within the 70 minutes of this 14-track album.

Although I tend to be reserved against long-duration albums, 'Chapter 21' kept me interested for its whole duration and that is a good start. This is definitely not your typical Neo-prog as it is filled with a heavy and intense sound and with a feel of jazz/fusion all over it. At the end of the day, this is not prog metal though, neither fusion nor traditional symphonic progressive rock. Rizengard prefer to keep it multi-layered, not really sticking to a particular style. What is common throughout is a fresh, up-tempo sound, slightly funky and commercial enough (Changes) to balance the virtuosity of these guys. The keyboards of Rizzo stand out as a trademark and determine the sound. Smooth jazz/fusion (Sacred Love, Magic) mixes with heavy fusion/progressive metal (Molokos, Mistica Noche) under an Allan Holdsworth-infused magic carpet. Strangely, the Neo-prog element, although not dominant in all tracks, appears constantly through Rizzo's keyboards, which at times are tuned to IQ/Marillion and others to more 70's-fused progressive rock. To describe this in a nutshell, maybe a heavy/fusion version of Sylvan might give you an idea for what to expect here, although strange as a combination this might sound. Lyrics both in Spanish and English appear in less than half of the tracks, nicely balanced between the instrumental sections.

Composed over many years, the album appears to be a compilation of tracks but it has been tuned in a way that it presents a cohesive package, which is not disturbed (on the contrary really) by the effort to enrich it with instruments not usually found together in a progressive rock album: bagpipes, Aztec percussion, saxophone, marimba. The production quality varies (but not buries the sound) and could have been a bit 'cleaner'. The album will appeal to a broad range of progressive rock fans - as for me, a 3.5+ rating is deserved.

Originally compiled for

Report this review (#943811)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mexican band RIZENGARD was formed back in 2011, and following just a sole year as a band unit they were ready with their debut album "Chapter 21″, self released by the band on the usual platforms we come to expect in this digital age as well as a physical CD.

Throughout 14 tracks clocking in at 70 minutes they present their take on progressive music, and it's a package that comes with many surprising twists and turn. One might say that variety is something of a key feature in the approach this band has to the art of creating music, with diversity another central word I suspect many will use when describing this initial creation of theirs.

The foundation, or at least the ground and center of their exploits appears to reside within the progressive metal realm. The greater majority of compositions tends to either visit or end up with an arrangement of the kind that invites comparisons to good old Dream Theater: Majestic guitar and riff constructions, albeit with massive sometimes replacing majestic as the best description but also with a fair few instances of the guitar bit toned down, at least as far as guitar riffs are concerned. Be that as it may be, a certain taste for progressive metal is needful to be able to enjoy this album.

Another recurring feature are instrument details with more of a jazzrock and fusion touch to them. Rarely hitting grounds of a purebred or closely related expression of that ilk as such, but rather often one or more of the instruments will add in a slight, subtle coloration referencing the jazzier parts of the progressive rock universe. Often in a smooth and melodic manner, contrasting the more metal oriented escapades quite nicely in sound, expression and intensity all.

Gentler, melodic sequences is another recurring element here, at the mellowest closer to art pop than rock as such actually. Add in the occasional folk-oriented flourishes too and we're left with quite the amalgam of different styles, and an album by those facets alone merits a description as a case for the eclectically inclined. Just briefly mentioning their use of, presumably, digital bagpipes on a few occasions, in the context of a band with something of a foundation in progressive metal, is a description that is probably rather revealing as far as underlining that particular opinion.

Latin and world music inspired rhythms another details that merits mentioning, as well as a few gentler excursions that reminded me quite a lot about the mellower side of Joe Satriani. Not because of the compositions and their expression as such, but due to the nicely toned down, melodic guitar soloing that gave me an instant association to Satriani's piece Always With Me, Always With You. Elsewhere guitarists and keyboardist both tends to opt for a more flamboyant and intense delivery though, with shredding, scale movements and the occasional neo classical oriented solo run arguably more a part of the proceedings than the more atmospheric laden, harmonic solo sequences. I might also add that a taste for guitar and keyboard soloing in general is needed to be able to appreciate this production, as we're served more than a fair amount of passages of that kind.

Eclectically inclined fans of progressive rock equally fond of the more accessible parts of the progressive rock universe and old school progressive metal should define a key audience for this ambitious Mexican band quite nicely. "Chapter 21″ is a production sporting enough twists and turns to keep the avid listener busy throughout many listening sessions, and will be a nice treat for those who decide to lend them an ear.

Report this review (#944057)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rizengard from Mexixo is one of the best young prog rock bands I've heared lately, really, this band kick ass big time. I was really impressed by their debute album released in 2012 named Chapter 21. The musicianship is absolutely top notch, hardly I've hered nowa days a band to play with an amazing ease like Rizengard playes here. The album is pretty long with 14 pieces and total length little above over 70 min, that means more then hour of music, but what an hour. rizengard music is very demanding, combining elements in their most edgy parts from Dream Theater, the keyboards are running all the time that remind me of ELP, some neo/symphonic flavours are to be found here + lots of jazz fusion passages a la Planet X ,Tribal Tech or Allan Holdsworth ingeniosity on guitar parts, the result is fantastic and very original to my ears. The overall musical arrangements goes from aztec percussions to Scotland bagpipes ad many more intresting going one. The voice is quite ok even is not the strongest point of the album, but Alberto Galarza manage to offer some really ok moments here, his voice is perfect for such music. There are also lots of invited guests who done a really good job. I can't extract a piece to be the best , because all are excellent, this is not every day type of album, it has lot to offer, both in musical passages as on vocal department. Specially I was absolutely knocked out of my socks when I've heared the keyboard parts, Christian Rizzo G is top notch keyboard player, what he offers here is really impressive, from fast breaks and turn to slow or mid tempo parts, Rizzo is awesome at best. All in all this album goes recommended for sure, is one of the most pleasent surprises I've come lately, really solid inventive and with outstanding musicianship. 4 stars rounded to 4.5, Mexico is again on the map of prog.
Report this review (#982543)
Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Review originally posted at

What a wonderful surprise by this mexican band!

And I say surprise because this was an unknown band to me, until for some reason their name appeared on my facebook so I wanted to explore more about them and found out they were already reviewed by some European colleagues with very positive words; so I wanted to do the same, but first I had to know their music, so thank you Christian Rizo and your mother for introducing me to Rizengard's music.

Their album "Chapter 21" was released last year (2012), containing 14 tracks that make a total time of 70 minutes of an exquisite blend or several progressive rock subgenres, so here you will have hints of symphonic rock, neo-progressive, some metal touches and even jazzy tunes. I feel guilty I didn't know them before in spite they are from my country, but well, now the less I can do is to share the word and invite people to listen to this Monterrey-based band.

It kicks off with "Parallel Roads The Twin Verses) which has a bombastic start with a tendency to metal, however, the first thing that caught my attention was the voice, because it is not the typical prog rock voice, here it has some touches of hip-hop, without being hip- hop, so the sound is peculiar. Then the music flows, we can appreciate bombastic keyboards solos while guitars, drums and bass mark the rhythm and perfectly complement the music. "Tanger" comes next with a different sound, a delicious track that adds a Spanish guitar and creates a rhythm full of cadence and sensuality at least for the first couple of minutes, later it changes a bit and keyboards put a more energetic sound, here in moments I remember A.C.T.'s Last Epic.

"This is (our time)" starts with electronic sounds on keyboards, like some futuristic tunes lying on a prog metal background, here I like the vocals and the rhythm, though when they appear the verses have the same structure, the sound is addictive instead of repetitive, so one can easily sing "time to stay in peace, with our mother earth", et all. Great compositional skills, I love how the most of the song is instrumental and vocals enter just when needed. The last two minutes have even more energy, so enjoy. The bombastic style continues in "Molokos", I love the energy the band shares and though I am not really keen on metal, here I don't have any problem, they offer high quality music that make my ears enjoy, though I want to clarify they are not really a prog metal band.

The reminiscence of A.C.T. at least in the vocals returned here, I am not comparing, I am just mentioning a reference of what you may find in "Changes (The Journey)". But in "Sacred Love (Inner Lilghts)" the music and style change a lot, the power ceases and here a soft blend of rock and jazz appear, with an extraordinary trumpet inclusion. I love this track by itself and also for its role in the album, I mean, it is like a healthy change, after all the energy spread in the previous tracks, it brings life and tranquility in order to start over again. Great bass lines and of course, excellent keyboards. "Magic" continues in the same soft vein, but this song is particularly special, I love how it puts images on my mind, so I can create my own story, the music just flows and let my have a great trip. Important to mention the inclusion of bagpipes, this of course puts a unique sound that makes the music even better.

The longest composition comes next, with 9 minutes, "Return" brings Rizengard to the map, a song like this can be easily loved by old and new prog rock fans due to its challenging sound and that mixture of sounds it offers. Three minutes pass and vocals enter, appearing after several tracks; first they appear with a soft sound, however seconds later they bring power and a sound totally oriented to metal, just like the music and its heavy riffs. "Fractal Disposition" has a more tense rhythm, it creates a rapid movement that makes me feel a bit nervous, but it is great, the music is simply well composed and performed, that's why it produces something on me.

"Mística noche" is a revulsive, since the very first seconds it starts powerful and bombastic, you can tell it by keyboards mainly, but also by guitars and drums. Here, for the first time, RIzengard decides to sing in Spanish, which is something I thank because I always prefer bands singing in their native language. "Luz en la oscuridad" has a softer rhythm at first, but later it flows and progresses until it reaches a climax. "Madretierra" is one of my favorite tracks here because it brings some folkish elements, like prehispanic flutes that reminds me of my ancestors rituals, I always love when bands include in their music some of their geographic roots, and manage to combine them with their own style, like in this case. Here bagpipes appear again, so it is a truly complete and interesting song. Great!

The last couple of tracks are "Sigo la luz" which is a soft and catchy track that in some way advises the journey is coming to its final stage.; and "Lullaby" is also the shortest track here, a song with acoustic guitar, nice keyboard atmosphere and a sweet and peaceful sound. And the album finishes here. I am happy with Rizengard's music, and I have to say that the album is really good, no matter its long length I never felt tired or bored I was always waiting for the next, so kudos for Rizengard, though it is not that memorable masterpiece, they did a great job and are working on it, they deserve a better worldwide exposure. My final grade will be 4 solid stars.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#1072361)
Posted Monday, November 4, 2013 | Review Permalink

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