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ROCKET SCIENTISTS

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Rocket Scientists biography
ROCKET SCIENTISTS marks the beginning of the career of the talented keyboardist Erik Norlander back in the late 80's when with the guitarist Mark McCrite decides to form a band.

According to some critics, ROCKET SCIENTISTS are responsible of a new stage in the evolution of Neo Prog, but in my opinion they went much further and explored different sounds including Hard Rock and some Metal but their main structure is 100% Symphonic.

But before talking about the band it's important to mention a bit of Erik Norlander, the brain behind the band, he was born in 1967 in Hollywood California, since he was a kid started to study Classical music and the Jazz, but his main influences (In his own words) were found in Prog Rock mentioning Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord, Keith Emerson, Mike Pinder and Geoff Downes, as we see the eclectic spirit of his music was present from the start.

After 3 or 4 years of founding ROCKET SCIENTISTS, the and releases their first album "Earthbound" (1993), with the assistance of Dom Schiff (Bass and Chapman Stick) and Tony Amato (Drums), who soon became part of the band but of course we can't forget Erik's muse and wife Lana Lane. This debut album is a bit simpler and less challenging than the rest of their production.

Their second album "Brutal Architecture" features the definitive lineup with Norlander, McCrite, Schiff and Amato, representing a leap in their career, still we can find some poppy moments but the structure and sound is pure Symphonic.

Still the band released two more albums "Earth Bellow and Sky Above" an excellent live album released in 1998 and in 199 the heavy "Oblivion" again with Lana Lane and almost two different lineups being Norlander and McCrite the only members who play in all racks.

During the early 2000's Norlander, McCrite and Schiff dedicated more to their solo career until 2006 when they release the double album "Revolution Road" which presents a much more mature band with much more ambition, we only need to hope they won't make us wait much more before a new release because the evolution of the band has been simply impressive.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

Rocket Scientists official website

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Looking BackwardLooking Backward
Box set
Think Tank Media 2007
Audio CD$38.96
$59.79 (used)
Revolution RoadRevolution Road
Think Tank Media 2001
Audio CD$11.93
$9.81 (used)
earth below and sky aboveearth below and sky above
Think Tank
Audio CD$39.95
$36.50 (used)
Supernatural HighwaysSupernatural Highways
Think Tank Media 2014
Audio CD$8.76
$20.92 (used)
Oblivion DaysOblivion Days
TDNE 2003
Audio CD$86.62
$39.20 (used)
black as coal +3 45 rpm singleblack as coal +3 45 rpm single
RE-ENTRY
Vinyl$9.99 (used)
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RE-ENTRY
Vinyl$15.00 (used)
Earth BelowEarth Below
Think Tank
Audio CD$14.95 (used)
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ROCKET SCIENTISTS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

2.91 | 16 ratings
Earthbound
1993
3.62 | 31 ratings
Brutal Architecture
1995
3.97 | 63 ratings
Oblivion Days
1999
3.51 | 39 ratings
Revolution Road
2006

ROCKET SCIENTISTS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.97 | 8 ratings
Earth Below And Sky Above
1998

ROCKET SCIENTISTS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ROCKET SCIENTISTS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 6 ratings
Looking Backward
2007

ROCKET SCIENTISTS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.40 | 5 ratings
Supernatural Highways
2014

ROCKET SCIENTISTS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Brutal Architecture by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.62 | 31 ratings

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Brutal Architecture
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars After ''Earthbound'' the line-up of Rocket Scientists was officially expanded to a trio with Don Schiff now performing as a regular member.With Tony Amato again behind the drum kit the group recorded the sophomore effort ''Brutal architecture'', while an agreement with Kinesis had been obtained and the album was eventually released in 1995 on the US label.

''Earthbound'' showed only traces of Rocket Scientists' talent, who's potential starts to be unleashed on this second work.The style became more complicated with longer and more demanding arrangements, while the retro references are more evident and the respect to the masters of the past is clear throughout the listening.Norlander's shifting keyboards, from dark Mellotrons and nostalgic organs to Electronic-inspired synths and even clavinet, are the main reason for the change, next to the technical delivery of a good rhythm section and the enough room for instrumental exercises.Melodies are not absent either with some nice guitar solos by Mark McCrite, while a more accesible approach is still apparent on several tracks.But even these contain a nice amount of good interplays or more symphonic keyboards.The result is an album close to the likes of GLASS HAMMER, AJALON and AKACIA, having an evident US Prog feeling.Vocals are both sensitive and expressive, similar to the diverse musicianship.Additionally Norlander's piano reveals plenty of Classical orientations, that sound absolutely great next to the melodic Neo/Symphonic Prog of the group, which can get very dramatic at moments, showing a nice composing ability and an even brighter future.

''Brutal architecture'' marks a huge step forward for the US group.The music is still a bit unoriginal, but the change towards more elaborate, retro-inspired and intricate compositions was definitely the right move.Recommended, especially to fans of Neo Prog and 70's Classic Prog.

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 Earthbound by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.91 | 16 ratings

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Earthbound
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by maryes

2 stars "Earthbound" first studio albun from ROCKET SCIENTISTS in my opinion is a kind of disk comparable inside the band career just as "Killroy was Here" from STYX or "A" from Jetrho Tull, or in other words a weak and almost inexpressive work, and in very lowest level than their subsequent releases, as for instance the fantastic "Oblivion Days" from 1999, and certainly if you hear in first place this third album and after "Earthbund" (as in my case), probably not recognize the same band. Due to this considerations and in spite the musicians quality, my rate is only 2 stars !!!

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 Looking Backward  by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.68 | 6 ratings

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Looking Backward
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Earthbound reprise

This rating and review is not for the full 5 disc box set Looking Backward, but only for the individual disc of the same name. This disc is part of the box set but it is also available separately (through iTunes). The box set also contains re-mastered versions of the three studio albums Earthbound, Brutal Architecture, and Oblivion Days, as well as a DVD. For my reviews of the original studio albums see the individual album pages, but as I do not own the box set I cannot comment on the DVD.

The disc contains re-recorded versions of older Rocket Scientists songs. The bulk of the material originally appeared on the band's 1993 debut album Earthbound; Earthbound, Picture Show, Pythagoras (here subtitled 'unbound'), Minstrel Saviour, When Sorrow Falls, and Carry Me Home, were all originally on that album. These new versions were recorded in 2007 and are greatly expanded and generally improved upon, though the 1998 live album Earth Below And Sky Above (not part of the box set) already contained new arrangements of some of these songs similar to those found here. Earthbound reprise is new for this present album.

Brutal Architecture is represented by a new version of the excellent Mariner. This version was recorded in 2003 and features Kelly Keeling on lead vocals instead of Mark McCrite. Though I prefer Keeling over McCrite, I think that the best version of this song is the one that appears on the Erik Norlander solo live album Stars Rain Down (also featuring Keeling's vocals). Dark Water parts one and two - the first of which is recreated here - originally appeared on Brutal Architecture (while parts three and four originally appeared on Oblivion Days). Looking Backward contains parts five and six of this instrumental.

Finally, there are two remixes of songs that originally appeared on Oblivion Days. These are Escape and Break the Silence.

Overall, I enjoy this disc every bit as much as the four proper studio albums by the band. The best introduction to Rocket Scientists remains the aforementioned live album Earth Below And Sky Above, but Looking Backward is a worthy addition to any Rocket Scientists collection.

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 Revolution Road by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.51 | 39 ratings

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Revolution Road
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Ptolemy

Seven years after Oblivion Days, Rocket Scientists returned with this double album which to this date remains their latest one. In the meantime, Erik Norlander had recorded and produced as many as three studio albums under his own name as well as several albums with Lana Lane (for which he wrote much of the material). The other guys from Rocket Scientists were involved in many of these projects as well. Needless to add, this was a very prolific period for these people. All of this also translated into a more mature album in Revolution Road. The Pop side of the band is still present, but overall they adopted a rockier sound for this one. They also abandoned the misguided attempts to sound contemporary on Oblivion Days.

Personally, I think that making a double album was overkill. Had they condensed the material into a single disc it would have been a stronger album. The included a cover of The Moody Blues' Gypsy (Of A Strange And Distant Time). It is a good one, but I don't see the point of making a double album if you have to include covers to fill it out. As it stands, Revolution Road is about equal in quality compared to the previous three albums by the band, all of which I have given the same rating. All three albums are good but they all have their respective advantages and shortcomings.

There are no weak tracks as such here but also no tracks that stand out from the rest. It is an enjoyable and pleasant listen, but not particularly memorable. The musicianship is very high as always, but it seems that Norlander used his best compositions for his solo albums and Lana Lane's many great albums.

Just another good Rocket Scientists album

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 Oblivion Days by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.97 | 63 ratings

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Oblivion Days
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Archimedes

Oblivion Days is Rocket Scientists' third studio album hailed by many as their best. I agree that in some respects it is superior to the previous two, but in other respects the opposite holds true. Erik Norlander's keyboard playing is once again magnificent and the several drummers and bass players also do a great job in providing a powerful rhythm section. Lead guitar is also delivered by multiple people this time including Ayreon's Arjen Lucassen and Lana Lane's Neil Citron. Lana Lane herself provides some backing vocals on a few tracks.

Even though the band's sound became heavier with this album, there is once again a strong Pop flavour. This Psychedelic Beatles/Pink Floyd influence does not always sit comfortably with the keyboard-driven Symphonic Prog elements drawing on Rick Wakeman/Keith Emerson. In addition, there is this time around an attempt to sound more contemporary which I don't like. All of these diverse elements create an interesting and dare I say unique mix that occasionally works really well. But at other times less so, I think.

But the most important factor is the quality of the material. Out of the vocal numbers, the title track stands out. Break The Silence is a good track as well on which the guitar sound reminds of that of King Crimson's Robert Fripp. But there is nothing on this album to compare with the tasteful grandeur of the excellent Mariner from the previous album. The instrumentals are the best here including parts three and four of Dark Water opening and closing the album respectively. And once again there is an instrumental named after a famous scientist in Archimedes.

Another good album from Rocket Scientists, but I think they peaked with the previous Brutal Architecture and the live album that followed it, called Earth Below And Sky Above.

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 Brutal Architecture by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.62 | 31 ratings

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Brutal Architecture
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Copernicus

The first six or so minutes of this second studio album from Rocket Scientists is a pure delight to my ears, but when the vocals enter my interest drops like a stone. The poppy, laidback, Beatlesque lead vocals of Mark McCrite mix like oil and water with the superb Symphonic Prog sound created by Erik Norlander's wonderful keyboards, McCrite's lead guitar, Don Shiff's stick, and Tommy Amato's drums. Whenever they remain in instrumental territory they do a wonderful job on this album, but the vocal passages don't always work for me. They are not bad as such, far from it, but the vocals doesn't always fit in with the rest. Also, I generally prefer more powerful vocalists. It's a matter of personal taste.

It is certainly true that this album is more progressive compared to the first and in many ways more mature. Some songs from this album would go on to become mainstays in Erik Norlander's repertoire both with Rocket Scientists and with his own band. The symphonic ballad Mariner is the foremost of these. It is a great song that since has appeared on several live albums. Personally, I prefer the version featuring Kelly Keeling on lead vocals on Norlander's excellent solo live album Stars Rain Down. The instrumental Dark Water parts one and two appeared here for the first time (while parts three and four would appear on the band's next studio album). Norlander would later put all the Dark Water pieces together into one long piece on his Galactic Collective album.

The Brutal Architecture album was followed by a live release called Earth Below And Sky Above (named after a line in the song Millennium 3). This live album featured songs from the band's first two studio albums including Dark Water part one, Wake Me Up, The Fall Of Icarus, Millennium 3, Mariner, and parts of the title track from the present album. Also the Japanese CD-version bonus track Stardust was performed with Lana Lane on lead vocals. Personally, I generally prefer the live versions of these songs over the studio ones - especially in those cases where lead vocal duties are left to other people.

Still, Brutal Architecture is a good album in its own right with many great moments. I would even say that it is Rocket Scientists' best studio release. But as I have been insisting, one of the abovementioned live albums might be the best place to start.

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 Earthbound by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.91 | 16 ratings

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Earthbound
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Pythagoras

The dark and haunting cover art might make you think we are dealing with a Black Metal album here, but that could hardly be further from the truth. The debut album of Rocket Scientists is perhaps best described as a Pop Prog album. I hear 80's and 90's Yes, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd (there is a cover of Floyd's Welcome To The Machine here), as well as American Symphonic Prog (80's Kansas, and perhaps Neal Morse?).

The history of Rocket Scientists goes back to the late 80's and they released this first album in 1993. This was the first out of countless albums that Erik Norlander would record and produce over the next couple of decades including many for Lana Lane who provides backing vocals to the present album. The songs are generally short and melodic. No doubt some people would say "commercial", but there is no denying the musicianship and progressive spirit present here. Several of the songs here would subsequently be improved and expanded upon in live format. The title track, Picture Show, Avalon, and Calm Before The Storm were all later featured on the excellent 1998 live album Earth Below And Sky Above in elongated and enhanced versions (one of which features Lana Lane on lead vocals). Also the short instrumental Pythagoras is featured on said live album as part of a medley.

For me, this album is fully listenable and enjoyable but perhaps not very impressive as such. As most would probably agree, even if the potential was clearly already here, the band had yet to find their own true identity. For me personally though, this album has other virtues that subsequent albums lack. All things considered, this album is - to my ears - every bit as good as its more well-known successors.

A good debut and the start of some great musical careers

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 Earth Below And Sky Above by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Live, 1998
3.97 | 8 ratings

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Earth Below And Sky Above
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars "This will be our finest hour"

I have recently become a fan of Erik Norlander; beginning with his heterogeneous solo albums, and then on to the many great albums of his wife Lana Lane's eponymous band (in which Norlander plays a major role as keyboard player, producer, and song writer). I had been vaguely aware of Norlander's earlier band Rocket Scientists for some time, but they had not really impressed me much in the past. But checking this band out more carefully became a natural next step for me after having reviewed Norlander's solo discography. Hearing the outstanding live version of Mariner (originally from Rocket Scientists' Brutal Architecture album) on Norlander's excellent solo live album Stars Rain Down provided a further motive to seek out more by this band.

The history of Rocket Scientists goes back to the late 80's and they released their first album (Earthbound) in 1993. The present live album was recorded after the band's second studio album (the aforementioned Brutal Architecture) and features generally improved versions of some of the best songs from these first two studio albums - including one (Stardust) that was originally only released as bonus track on the Japanese CD-version of Brutal Architecture. We also get a couple of pieces from Norlander's first solo album Threshold that was released around the same time. The fantastic Lana Lane appears on lead vocals on two of the tracks.

I have since figured out why I generally prefer both Norlander's and Lana Lane's respective albums over those of Rocket Scientists. One reason has to do with the Pop/Psychedelic side of the latter, highly influenced by the likes of The Beatles, The Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd that simply agrees less with me compared to the Symphonic Prog and Symphonic Rock/Metal influences of the former. Another reason is the vocals of Mark McCrite that is less to my liking (though he sounds good here on those tracks on which he sings).

But this live album caught my interest with a strong set list and powerful performances. There is a very good balance between instrumentals and vocal material as well as between energetic and more serene moments. There is another good version of the aforementioned symphonic ballad Mariner (is it Norlander himself on lead vocals here?); the Norlander signature tune Neurosaur; a "Prog Medley" consisting of instrumental pieces from Earthbound and Brutal Architecture; a great version of The Fall Of Icarus with a brilliant Keith Emerson-like piano solo in the middle section. All this together with the welcome presence of Lana Lane's voice makes this live album a better release than any of the band's four studio albums.

A very good introduction to Rocket Scientists and also a nice companion to Norlander's excellent Stars Rain Down.

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 Revolution Road by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.51 | 39 ratings

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Revolution Road
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I have a copy of the Rocket Scientists' Oblivion Days. I bought a long time ago and haven't listened to it for years. I was never really impressed with their formula of mixing pop rock with progressive leanings. It has a couple good songs on it, but the rest of the stuff outweighed it.

Seeing that they had a newer release, I thought I'd give this band another chance after finding their Revolution Road album at a cheap price. It doesn't look they changed the formula much. And this time there are 2 CDs worth of music to meander through.

What kept popping up in my mind was Asia. Yes, Asia. Alright, this is more progressive than Asia, but the bulk of it is made up of pop rock/AOR numbers. For many of them, the only thing progressive about them are certain keyboard flourishes from keyboard maestro Erik Norlander. Now I like Norlander's work, but these flourishes in a Wakeman/Emerson vein seemed to lose their fascination the longer I kept listening to this album. More and more I was getting the feeling that Geoff Downes was playing and hence the Asia feeling again. Norlander's good at the flourishes and the soundscapes, but when is he ever going to get around to doing an interesting melody?

There are a number of instrumentals on the album, but none of them I found appealing. Some were disjointed, some were just plain boring, with only the final track showing some potential (but lacking the excitement it needs, just plodding along for 13 minutes). In fact, the only songs I liked on this album were basic pop rock numbers, Better View and Forever Nights. I found guest vocalist David McBee to be an acquired taste.

The length of this album is also a problem. This could have easily been shortened to a one-disc album as much of the material should have been left for an archive.

If you like Asia, or a band that tends to lean on the pop rock/AOR arena with progressive leanings primarily from keyboard solo flourishes, you'll probably enjoy this. Otherwise, this one is for fans only.

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 Revolution Road by ROCKET SCIENTISTS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.51 | 39 ratings

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Revolution Road
Rocket Scientists Symphonic Prog

Review by genbanks

4 stars Great album full of instrumental parts. The guitarist and singer Mark McCrite complements really well with Eric Norlander, and Don Schiff with the stick contributes too, even in the songwriting.

In the CD 1 Sky is falling is a superb opener with a great keyboard riff and a heavy guitar side. The melody line is really good too. Dream in red and Better View are great tracks too. The first one harder and the second one more in a soft way but with a stunning instrumental interlude. Outside the painted walls and Ptolemy are very good and non conventional instrumentals, pure progrock. Revolution Road is mainly instrumental where Norlander stands out with the keyboards.

CD 2, is good but not so homogeneous as the CD 1. The best tracks are Enjoy the weather, Pay your dues, Eden burns (with some church organ sounds) and House of cards. The instrumental interaction between the three musicians and the drummer is really good. The album closes with the epic instrumental After the revolution. In the vein of Mariner (from Brutal Architecture), is a climatic track in a soft way with piano and guitars. Good piece, but maybe unnecessarily long.

Great addition for any progrock collection.

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