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4 stars Robert Scott Richardson is one of those people who, in the studio, can do it all. Guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, vocals, the works! And the result of Robert's studio venture is Cell15 "Chapter One", a concept album based on life experiences.

Now I'll say as I have been saying recently, there are so many talented musicians out there and so many albums of excellent quality. How is one to make his music project or band stand apart. Just being adept at playing symphonic prog or neo-prog isn't going to set you apart from the pack. And the first few minutes of this album aren't going to make you sit up and feel an epiphany or anything, even though the music sounds great. But listen on. Because Robert has his angle.

At about 6:40 into"Chapter One", Robert gives us the first hint. He totally bellows out the vocals with a rough, hard rock edge. Well, that was all interesting and if you were just enjoying the music as background so far you might want to pay attention. The classic hard rock sound returns at 8:00 to wrap up the song, and then "Man with a Gun" begins setting an almost Wall-like atmosphere with tension and suspense. A chorus of soft vocals sing while someone shouts "I don't wanna go. You can't make me go!" What's this all about? We step into a neo-prog format but with some hint of something older. An early eighties influence is starting to creep into the music. Enjoy a proggy interlude with bass, piano, organ, and drums, then a guitar solo, and by 6:30 we get, what? Is this late seventies / early eighties Blue Oyster Cult? Something like it for sure. Okay, so this I haven't heard since "Fire of Unknown Origin", I think.

And now for something rather unexpected. A rhythm of drums and bass that sound like "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" and keyboards that might have come of a Pendragon album. Bring in the vocals and we are back to 1980 Blue Oyster Cult. Amazingly, the steady rhythm is maintained throughout the whole song. But wow, how interesting. And this is where I am reminded once again that in the last decade or so it seems that bands are no longer content to try to reply the classic prog days of the seventies; they want to bring in some of that eighties sound, at least where it sounded good. This is working for me.

"Manny's Gone Home" is one of those blues-based ballads that again you probably would hear on an album from the mid to late seventies. The song turns heavy after the halfway mark and winds up with a big classic rock finish.

"Long Way Down" sounds like the late seventies sound is going to continue but then breaks into a modern prog keyboard solo and shifts into classic rock gear again. Robert sure knows how to switch gears from modern neo- prog to classic rock to classic prog. His voice has this rough edge to it at times too which really suits the hard rock side of his repertoire of styles. Get into that fusion of classic rock and neo-prog!

That positive and dramatic beginning to "Faith without Words" sounds like a big Pendragon style opening but abruptly drops a crushing heavy guitar riff with sandpaper vocals. Again I am hearing this Blue Oyster Cult sound in between the heavier riffs. As with all the songs though, we have to veer away from the main theme and find a slower section with an dash of Pink Floyd guitar.

At last we have "The Messenger" with some pretty funky bass. I'll tell you that it was bass player Dan McDonald, who recently left Elephants of Scotland and who has joined up with Richardson to be a part of the Cell15 band, who turned me on to this album. When I heard this track I sent him a message saying, "You must be having fun with the bass on this song!" There's a cool bass break at 3:40 that I can just see him enjoying. The song slows down later before building to its climax in a big neo-prog fashion.

The album might have been somewhere between three and four stars for me, but the mix of hard rock and Blue Oyster Cult sounds into a neo-prog / modern prog rock album has turned my ears. What makes this album stand apart from dozens of others? Robert Scott Richardson has concocted his own blend of music and I think I like it! Now be on standby as the second album is in the writing stages here at the end of 2016.

Report this review (#1670471)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US project CELL 15 is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Robert Scott Richardson, a seasoned musician that has been active since the '80s, first and foremost in the hard rock band Hybrid Ice. Cell 15 is a new project of his, one that started out as a studio-based venture, but that later on has developed into a proper band unit. "Chapter One" is the debut album by this venture, and was self-released in 2014.

Those who tend to enjoy contemporary progressive rock bands of the kind that look back to both the big bands of yesteryear in that vein as well as to the more sophisticated hard rock bands of the same era for inspiration should find this debut album by Cell 15 to be a compelling one. Personally I'd suggest that those who know and treasure the output of a band like Magic Pie should find this album to be a rewarding experience.

Report this review (#1705317)
Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars 6.24.17 I had the pleasure of witnessing Cell15 live. Now I am not a writer, musician or related in anyway to music other than being a fan. But today was also special because it was a memory for my 2 daughter's. I have been inducted into CLUB C. Window is closing so a memory had to be made. Now to the show. From the opening bell I was more impressed by the soul of this relatively new band then I was listening to a digi download. Bob Richardson, the founder, guitarist Shane Jones, drums,Kevin Thomas and former EoS bass man Dan McDonald round out what I believe is a power stroke of pure wizardry. I will say the most emotional track by any means is Manny's Gone Home. Being Ill has it's downs and few ups and the 1st time I heard this track it had my 57 yr old behind in tears. It was felt the same way by my oldest daughter as we were 'bawling bookends' at our table. Let's step back to chapter one, if you're a keyboard guy this is driven with a force that needs to be recognized. The entire set was an experience I for one shall never forget, the music, the outpouring of a soul, precise guitar playing and an intense McDonald who plays with as I had said to him with anger. Poor strings had their ass handled. Power keys and the recognizing my daughter's birthdays will live within me for what time I have left. Two new songs were introduced as well and I wonder if I'll get to hear a 2nd CD. Hard driven rock with a progressive lining, how can you go wrong. The only downside to today was they didn't play enough. A concept album should be heard in its entirety to make any real sense. I am only a fan as I had said and I am certainly be fan of this outfit. Look for them on band camp and maybe CD baby but good luck in getting a hard copy. I'll end by saying thank you to a group of hospitable fellas and in particular to Bob, who is responsible for a 5 star listen and putting the right guys in the right places'.

This may not or is not a true review but it is a factual account of an experience

Report this review (#1737603)
Posted Sunday, June 25, 2017 | Review Permalink

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