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ACUITY

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Acuity biography
ACUITY is a hard-edged symphonic prog band from Michigan lead by Bradley Styes, who is also responsible for the music and most of the lyrics. With the exception of violinist Matthew Parmenter's guest appearance and Chuck Mitchell, who did the cover art and contributed to one of the tracks, none of the musicians are listed on the album sleeve - unfortunately, their website isn't of much help either. This being said, ACUITY are certainly worth checking out.

What characterizes their album "Skyward" is its energetic guitar riffs, complex arrangements and full-bodied melodies. The songs are varied enough, the vocalist could be placed in the 'average-to-fair' category and the lyrics have a certain morbid, tongue-in-cheek piquant - not quite as verbose as Peter HAMMILL's but interesting enough. Although the production could use a little 'oomph', the album has its share of memorable moments, featuring two epic pieces that will keep many a progster's ears riveted through some fine lengthy musical mellotron sections with many chord shifts and tempo changes.

This material doesn't break any grounds but should please a variety of hard prog lovers, from RUSH to LED ZEPPELIN to VDGG fans.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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SkywardSkyward
CD Baby 2004
Audio CD$13.36
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ACUITY discography


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ACUITY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.91 | 10 ratings
Skyward
2004

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ACUITY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Skyward by ACUITY album cover Studio Album, 2004
1.91 | 10 ratings

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Skyward
Acuity Symphonic Prog

Review by Music By Mail

1 stars This is the kind of release that should never have seen the light. On the other hand, it allows you to better appreciate things that ARE well produced; you have a comparison point that makes you understand the difference between bad and good! OK, let's dissecate a bit this Acuity that doesn't live up to its name:

1. start with no information at all about who's playing! You'll have to search on the net.

2. the second step occurs while scrutinizing the booklet in hope to find infos about the musicians; instead my eye gets caught by some of the lyrics, extremely poor and of sheer bad taste, like for example: Now you are my sex-toy, my one-time love so I'll lay you out then you'll be my next meal .... huum .... stupidly called "an essay on morbid hysteria" ... whose falsely conceptual part 6 is titled [&*!#]-eating grin !!!

3. We haven't been naming the music yet! So point 3, the extremely bad intonation of the vocalist ... awful! And spoiling the few good musical parts left.

4. the problem is that those parts are nothing that hasn't been heard before thousand times! Splashing mello here and there, the heavy guitar-driven sequence, well played but already part of museum music!

So, which rating? Two stars is described as "collectors/fans only" but with only one album released and being relatively new, no fan suite has probably been started and the collection would be meager. So the one star grading "Poor. Only for completists" feels more appropriate. And if you are really serious about music, a voice like the one heard here would surely bring it down to half a star if this existed! There are things for which no compromize should never be accepted, especially when so many better outputs are to be found in this world.

PS: with the morbid taste shown in the album's lyrics, retitling the album "Down to Hell" would be better suitable than "Skyward". I don't feel anything really uplifting here.

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 Skyward by ACUITY album cover Studio Album, 2004
1.91 | 10 ratings

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Skyward
Acuity Symphonic Prog

Review by Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

1 stars I've always appreciated gifts and like my mother always told me, "It's the thought that counts." Indeed, mother, I learned and I appreciated the thought. Many thanks to the friend who sent this disc to me.

Unfortunately, aside from a short violin solo by Matthew Parmenter that could have elevated this gift to two stars, I just can't get myself to rate it that high. Some albums would be better off as instrumental showcases, this is one. The singing is so cringe-wrothy as to make it completely unlistenable. Simon Cowell would have tossed the singer on his ear during the first audition. Maybe Mr Styes should have paid Matthew Parmenter to lend his voice to the production. I've tried to make my way through it numerous times, but my finger stabs at the eject button quicker than a liberal going for his wallet at a Clinton fundraiser.

The musician, Bradley Styes, is extremely talented on various keyboard instruments, bass, guitar and drums. The bass, nice Ric tone, cuts through the mix. Acoustic guitars ring sweetly on many tracks, a highlight I guess. The drumming is competent. Guitar leads have a metal edge but don't have any depth or creative impact. Mr. Styes is very talented, however, the music comes off as very derivative, sometimes campy in the use of the therimin. Directionless. The production is poor, at best, very muddy. Tweaking the EQ did little to improve the experience.

The lyrics are horrid. Check this out, "Can't sleep at night, Can't urinate right." Guffaw! Can you believe that line? There is plenty more like that as well. "I pray for my health in one hand and [&*!#] in the other." Egad. There are Jeffrey Dahmer inspired lyrics, a diatribe against media over-exposure. Silly robots and space explorer poems.

Maybe the next project will be better, he has loads of talent. A good producer could make this into something of a higher quality. Oh, yeah, hire a good vocalist or stick to instrumentals.

Spend your money elsewhere, but always be thankful for unexpected gifts.

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 Skyward by ACUITY album cover Studio Album, 2004
1.91 | 10 ratings

BUY
Skyward
Acuity Symphonic Prog

Review by Greg W

4 stars A new outfit based out of Detroit is showing progressive rock is alive and well today. While they don't explore any new ground(who does anymore?) they create some of the best progressive sounds that we epitimize the genre with today. The music here is complex, dark and sinister and all the while being a bit tongue in cheek as well. This music is for anyone who loves Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Rush. I cannot urge you enough to pick up this gem.

The cd opens up with Vector which is an instrumental. The sound here will not overwhelm your prog senses as it is a more hard driving(almost heavy metal) straight forward beat. It does have some interesting moments in the middle, but overall this tune will not wow any listener, nor will it annoy ya either though.

State of the Art of Love Song is a quirky, amusing song about androids and robots and such. This song isn't very adventurous either and almost seemed to be included in here just for the off chance that this one might recieve some radio play. Thankfully it is relatively short and doesn't have the opportunity to get under the listeners skin.

From this point forward the cd becomes near perfect. The 3rd song begins with the 1st of three long suites. Transcendance(Culture of Hospice) will take the listener on a near 15 minute joyride of pure prog. Yes influences abound everywhere on this song while having a dark, cynical web being spun around the listeners ears...lyrics like "lying wide awake, anxious for a coma" best sums up what this song is about.

The epic song Milwaukee is the strongest and darkest of all the tunes on this cd. Here they bust out a plethora of influences to launch a sonic assault on the listeners ears including Rush, Yes, Genesis as well as some heavy metal licks to boot! The song will shackle you into the nightmarish scenes of a captive of a psycho who is about to perform some grisly act(s) on the listener. All good twisted, perverted fun as we are spiralled helplessly through this hellish joyride of sonic ecstacy.

Cul-de-Sacs of Venus is another instrumental which guest-stars Mathew Parmenter on violin. This is a beautiful song which is a fitting stark contrast to the sinister Milwaukee.

The last of the three long suites is Voyager which concludes this cd nicely. This one has heavy influences of Genesis and Yes all over it. Words are few and music is aplenty on this excellent track about Lonliness!

If this cd could have been more original, and if the singer was a tad better this would have been a masterpiece. It is still a great 1st attempt and I am looking forward to see what Acuity has in store for their next cd. I recommend this to everyone but especially those who like Yes and Genesis as well as anyone who loves their music extremely dark!

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