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EXPLORERS CLUB

Heavy Prog • United States


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Explorers Club biography
The idea of the EXPLORERS CLUB project is to have a different concept each time, explains Trent Gardner, "a way for me to write for other musicians and to kind of go outside the bounds of the stuff I do with Magellan." "Raising The Mammoth" indeed differs a lot from its predecessor "Age Of Impact", which was released in 1998. Lyrically it came out a lot darker, while musically it now reminds me of dinosaurs like ELP, GENESIS and KING CRIMSON. The album also sounds more like a group effort and there are definitely longer stretches of music, with special attention for keyboard solos. If you like your progressive rock music dark, experimental and professional at the same time, this "Raising The Mammoth" will be a hard nut to crack.

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Age of ImpactAge of Impact
Magna Carta 1998
Audio CD$11.89
$0.69 (used)
Do You Love Me?/Carry Me [Vinyl]Do You Love Me?/Carry Me [Vinyl]
Single
Dead Oceans 2008
Vinyl$2.99
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EXPLORERS CLUB discography


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

3.66 | 96 ratings
Age Of Impact
1998
3.34 | 43 ratings
Raising The Mammoth
2002

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EXPLORERS CLUB Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Age Of Impact by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 96 ratings

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Age Of Impact
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I have never been a big fan of Magellan, although I like some of their music I tend to find that the composition level is not high enough, their competence as instrumentalists is average, and the sound is too digital and electronic. At least the last two issues are solved here, but not the first one.

It's hard to understand how did Trent Gardner manage to convince such a stellar line-up of musicians and vocalists to participate in this project when the composition level is so low, and yet here we have John Petrucci, Terry Bozzio, Billy Sheehan, James La Brie, Steve Howe, Derek Sherinian, Matt Guillory? you name them, if this is not a supergroup I don't know what it is. I guess they were well paid.

Only the first track "Fate Speaks" is resonably good from the composition viewpoint, with a killer 4 minutes introduction mixing the styles of Magellan and Dream Theater followed by Magellan classic sounding verses / chorusses and great instrumental sections, and clocking 16 minutes it makes for a strong track, but even then it relies heavily on the soloing qualities of the guest musicians.

The other tracks are rather poor compositions only saved by the superb (and mostly long) solos, in particular Petrucci shines throughout the album, he was really inspired in this period. The inclusion of some flute and winds helps maintaining some interest but not enough, and the short appearances of Steve Howe on the acoustic guitar are rather uninspired for what we can expect from him.

Fans of prog-metal with special focus on proficient solos may surely enjoy this, but I don't think it deserves more than 2 stars.

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 Raising The Mammoth by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.34 | 43 ratings

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Raising The Mammoth
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The second and final release (possibly) from the EXPLORERS CLUB is once again led by keyboardist Trent Gardner. Mark Robertson helps him out on keys while John Myung (bass),Terry Bozzio (drums),Wehrkamp, Friedman and Livgren (guitars) , LaBrie and Walsh (vocals) fill out the lineup. So once again a steller lineup with KANSAS and DREAM THEATER well represented.

The suite Raising The Mammoth is divided into three sections. What's a little confusing is that both my stereo and computer show 44 tracks for this album instead of the four long ones that are shown on the back of the cd cover.Yup something like this drives me crazy. It is interesting though as you listen to the music there are distinct changes after each part, so the 44 songs or sections are warranted I suppose. Instrumentally this album is impressive much of the time. I can't say the two vocalists are my favourites by any means but they are both fine. I like when the sound finally settles down on the 13th part and we get some atmosphere. From here on out the tempo and mood shifts quite a bit. Not a fan of the backing vocals that are prevelant. Lots of synths too. Love the guitar opening the 27th section though.

I think I like this a little more than the debut but it's still a 3 star album at best.

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 Age Of Impact by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 96 ratings

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Age Of Impact
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars I borrowed this album from a friend for the novelty of hearing another progressive super-group or in this case a whole super-team! Unfortunately I didn't like neither the song writing nor the production all that much. The reason behind this is the that same old problem that has been ruining the majority of these collaboration albums, namely that they usually aren't really group efforts to begin with.

This time the mastermind behind project is Trent Gardner and it definitely shows because it all sounds just like a Magellan album on a grander scale. In a way the technology is somewhat to blame for making people think that they can basically compose the main outline of the compositions and then send them around to all the collaborators without ruining the overall quality of the material.

I guess that John Petrucci fans did get a kick out of this album judging by the amount of Fate Speaks guitar solo covers that have are available on YouTube! I definitely don't blame them because the only thing that Age Of Impact has got going for it are the solo spots and even those can sometimes feel like a novelty. Being a collaboration album every artist has to get enough space for a memorable effort which sometimes creates truly awkward moments like for example the acoustic guitar solo spot for Steve Howe on Time Enough.

If you're a fan of creative collaboration albums then you should look elsewhere to get your kicks because this album is only for hardcore fans of the collaborators who are featured on this release.

Edit: Dream Theater fans might recognize traces of the Finally Free solo from Scenes from a Memory on Fading Fast (between 5:20-6:40). The track can be streamed here on Prog Archives so go ahead and look it up just for fun!

**** star songs: Fate Speaks (16:00)

*** star songs: Fading Fast (8:45) No Returning (8:20) Time Enough (9:15) Last Call (11:10)

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 Age Of Impact by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 96 ratings

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Age Of Impact
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

2 stars The problem with big collaborations of this nature is that there is usually lacking a clear arrangement or specific direction of the project. This couldn't be truer here. The rhythm section generally keeps things going for as many soloists to get in on the action as possible in between the singing, which makes this project seem more like a way to show off to musicians than really connect with anybody else. The division of the tracks is rather sloppy also.

"Fate Speaks" The brief classical guitar introduction has little to do with the massive sonic explosion that follows it. Clear lead guitar cuts through the thick mix of instruments. For the most part the lead guitar throughout is typical of the showiness associated with progressive metal (in other words, constant shredding), and the vocal melody is not that enjoyable, but the bass playing and drum work make up for an awful lot. The keyboard work is also a consolation in the generally uninteresting composition.

"Fading Fast" A haunting opening, some pleasant classical guitar, strange keyboards, and electronic percussion makes up the weird and eclectic opening of this track. After a brief guitar solo, there's the singing of some trite lyrics over bland synthesizer pads and that same electronic percussion. If I'm not mistaken, the guitar bit just five-and-a-half minutes in sounds a lot like one of the main themes from Dream Theater's Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory. The last few minutes contain some interesting keyboards and guitars.

"No Returning" The previous track goes right into this one, and soon enough, an acoustic guitar takes over. The keyboard sections are closer to symphonic acoustic rock than anywhere else, and are probably the highlights of the album.

"Time Enough" The vocals here are snotty-sounding, and there's some spoken word that's hardly discernible. The speedy guitars over the slow rhythm sounds impressive, but really isn't. The trombone is out of place, but really welcome given this track. The bass flourishes are exceptional. The trouble with this one is the vocals- they're just bad, especially over a stark keyboard.

"Last Call" The last track suddenly becomes a heavy metal song, but the vocalist this time seems to be pushed down in the mix. For the most part, it's a fairly basic structure that doesn't offer anything particularly new. By this point, the shredding lead guitar grows weary over such a repetitive background, This piece is little more than a long solo that wears out its welcome.

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 Raising The Mammoth by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.34 | 43 ratings

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Raising The Mammoth
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars A Prog-mammoth

Explores Club is obviously a project strongly inspired by the classic Prog bands of the 70's. But they are not only inspired by these 'Prog-mammoths', they include some of them within their ranks. On the first Explorers Club album, Age Of Impact, we could hear Steve Howe and on this second album we can hear Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren from Kansas. The presence of these two gentlemen together with the fact that I very much liked Age Of Impact made me very interested in Raising The Mammoth. While I think that it is not up to par with the first, I was not disappointed by this album.

Steve Walsh sings lead on major parts of the album and he is in good form here. Other parts are handled by James LaBrie and some by project leader and producer Trent Gardner himself. Like on Age Of Impact we also hear contributions from some other members of Dream Theater (but not John Petrucci this time). Guitar duties are taken over by Marty Friedman which is not a bad replacement. Still, Raising The Mammoth is a bit more keyboard oriented compared to Age Of Impact. Terry Bozzio of UK fame (among other bands) is also once again aboard. The presence of Prog legends like Bozzio, Livgren and Walsh really lends this project some classic credibility that often lacking in most new Prog bands.

Explorers Club manages to create something interesting of their own; heavily informed by the classics, and sometimes by them, but not copying them. So while Explorers Club clearly belongs to a genre and a tradition, I do not find them derivative. At least not in the blatant sense of so many Neo-Prog and Prog Metal bands trying to sound exactly like their older heroes without having the direct relation to them like in Explorer's Club.

There is a slight Metal sound and feeling on several passages but much less so than in Dream Theater, for example. As I said, Raising The Mammoth is slightly more keyboard dominated reminding of Emerson Lake & Palmer. But there is even a slight New Age/World Music influence in this music but not as much as on Age Of Impact.

The album is divided into two main parts called Raising The Mammoth 1 and Raising The Mammoth 2 (AKA Prog-O-Matic) Gigantipithicus. Raising The Mammoth 1 is in turn divided into three parts. Somewhat confusingly the tracks on the CD do not follow this division, however. The albums having as many as 44 tracks! This makes it the case that hearing this album is mp3 format becomes tedious with a slight glitch between every track. You therefore really need the CD. Might this be the motivation behind having so many tracks?

Raising The Mammoth 1 very good and is up to par with the material on Age Of Impact. Raising The Mammoth 2 (AKA Prog-O-Matic) Gigantipithicus, however, does not only have a very silly title but it is a 28 minute long instrumental that I feel lacks any clear direction. It is not awful by any means but it is not very memorable. This brings this album down a bit.

Still, this is recommended for those who liked Age Of Impact and for those who follow the careers of the individual musicians involved. For the average Prog fan, however, this is a good, but non-essential album.

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 Age Of Impact by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 96 ratings

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Age Of Impact
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars I am generally quite sceptical about newer Prog bands and I usually stick with the classic bands of the 70's. The presence here of my hero Steve Howe on acoustic guitar was the primary reason for me checking this out. But I also knew Terry Bozzio's great drumming from UK, as well as the people from Dream Theater. Howe's impact on the music here turned out to be quite minimal, but I don't mind that since what I found was a great modern Prog album. Indeed, together with Dream Theater's Images And Words this is possibly the best album by a newer band that I have ever heard!

Explores Club is obviously a project strongly inspired by the classic Prog bands of the 70's (some of which some participants here belong(ed); Yes, UK). But while Explorers Club clearly belongs to a genre and tradition, I do not find them derivative. At least not in the blatant sense of so many Neo Prog and Prog Metal bands trying to sound exactly like their older heroes. The presence of legends like Howe and Bozzio lends this project some legacy often lacking in most newer Prog bands. Explorers Club manages to create a sound of their own; informed by the classics, but not copying them.

There is a slight metal sound and feeling on several passages but much less so than in Dream Theater. The sound of Age Of Impact has nothing to do with the 80's and 90's Trash metal that said band would lean so heavily towards on most of their post-Images And Words albums. Surprisingly, there is also sometimes an almost New Age or World Music influence on this album! Some parts of the second "impact" sounding a bit like Mike Oldfield with (moderately used) programmed drums and some exotic percussion. This feels fresh and sounds interesting to my ears.

The five "impacts" are basically one long, 50 minute + song. Bass, guitar, drums and keyboards are all excellently played. And the vocals and lyrics are very good too. The guitar surprisingly sometimes sounds a bit like Allan Holdsworth on some parts. The balance between electric and acoustic guitars is very good and there are also some other instruments, like a Jethro Tull-like flute solo at one point!

Age Of Impact actually made an impact on me and I consider it one of the best newer Prog albums (i.e. albums not from the late 60's to early 80's)

Highly recommended!

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 Age Of Impact by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 96 ratings

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Age Of Impact
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was disappointed with this release overall even though there are many excellent passages throughout. I was expecting more metal, but this often is closer to heavy-Neo in my opinion. Which is fine, but my expectations based on the all-star lineup were too high I guess.

"Fate Speaks" is a good example of a commercial sounding tune, and vocally it reminds me of JEFFERSON STARSHIP. It opens with some intricate acoustic guitar from Steve Howe before heaviness arrives before a minute. The guitar is excellent, and actually the first 4 minutes are really good but then the vocals come in and it goes down hill for me. Pertucci kills on this one though. I have to mention Derek Sherinian's solo late followed by another Pertucci solo to end it. "Fading Fast" features Matt Bradley from DALI'S DILEMMA on vocals which for me is an improvement over the first track. Not really a melody until 3 minutes in when heavy drums and bass come in. Vocals a minute later as it calms down. Vocals then guitar soar 5 1/2 minutes in. Pertucci again shines 7 1/2 minutes in. Great ending as vocals join in. "No Returning" features some ripping guitar before 2 minutes. LaBrie sings on this one but not until around 4 1/2 minutes. Flute is featured as well. It's nice and heavy when LaBrie starts to sing, it gets lighter on the chorus though. "Time Enough" opens with some good grinding guitar as D.C.Cooper comes in vocally. For me this is the best vocal performance on the album. The guitar after 2 minutes sounds amazing from James Murphy. Some horns and waves of synths as it becomes atmospheric. Acoustic guitar from Howe joins in. It never does get back to the heavy sound of earlier as keys and samples follow before reserved vocals come in. I much prefered the first part of the song. "Last Call" has LaBrie back on vocals. This one has a nice heavy sound. Synth solo 2 1/2 minutes in. I like the drumming 2 minutes later and the vocals(Gardner) that follow. More great drumming after 6 minutes from Bozzio. Killer guitar solo before 7 minutes by Pertucci again. Murphy solos during the choruses.

Lots to like on this one. Pertucci for me is the one who stands out on this record.

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 Age Of Impact by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 96 ratings

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Age Of Impact
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by CCVP
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Truly the best work of explorer's club, and maybe the finest work of Trent Gardner!

The 1st moment i saw this album on this site i thought: well, yet another side project, but it sound promising, lets take a look. From the 1st moment i heard this album i realized that it was a great album and its one of the few (well, i actually got a lot of albums on this list) that i can hear non-stopping for almost all day long.

Here, Trent composed an album about the end of something that i still long to know what is it, but i guess its the end of the world. The album is, in fact a five piece symphonic prog epic with a bit of metal in it, since the whole album is actually 1 big song divided in 5 parts.

Musically, the album is great. Besides the incredible composing by Trent, it gathers some of the prog rock greatest musicians to play. The result of it is definitely, a positive impact.

Fate Speaks: great kick off. It has numerous good guitar and keyboard solos, some nice drumming by Terry Bozzio and has the Cairo's singer, who's voice remember me Jon Anderson.

Fading Fast: mediocre, if compared to fate speaks, just like welcome to the machine when compared to shine on crazy diamond. That means that its a good music, but its worse when compared to its predecessor. Here the music is much slower, remembering a ballad or something.

No Returning: no returning is quite like a reprise of fate speaks, but with some interesting musical modulations and some different arrangements. It also have lots and lots of guitar and keyboard solos.

Time Enough: here, its like a omniscient voice is warning someone that the time is ending. I don't really get it, but the song is great tho, looking like a MUCH better version of fading fast.

Last Call: the end of the music and the end of the album is terrific! Frantic keyboards, guitars and drumming. If you consider that the album talks about the end of the world here the world is coming to an end.

Overall rating: this album is great, but its definitely not a progressive rock masterpiece. However, i think the 4 star grade is too low. Damn rating, there should be middle ratings, like 4.5, 3.5, 2.5, and so on. Since there is no middle ratings, i gotta play by the rules, so 5 stars

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 Raising The Mammoth by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.34 | 43 ratings

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Raising The Mammoth
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

3 stars So that's what happens if a successfull project is urged to get a follow-up. Obviously Explorer's Club was mainly founded for the Age of Impact concept because that was a terrific thought out and worked out idea but it lasted 4 years before the successor arrived. I had been waiting anxiously for this successor and hoped it would be a match for the great debut.

But eventhough it has become a highly original concept album which is also loved by quite a number of people (or at least appreciated) I can't help being disappointed about it but that has also to do with the inevitable comparison with its predecessor. I mean there are no high quality mindblowing guitar solos on this one and also hardly any brilliant instrumental passages like on Age of Impact. The vocals are more dominant on this album than on Age of Impact. And a genuine piece of criticism I have is the in some cases repetitive passages that are annoying to me really.

This is more like a piece of art to me. And you know what it is with art. You have to feel the idea of its creator and if you don't it mostly doesn't mean anything for you. That's exactly the case for me here. I have no connection with this album, I can detect a lot of original music but nothing for my personal taste. Then again, I'm a Philistine so that probably explains.

So I wouldn't be too disappointed with this review if I was Explorer's club or a great fan of this album. It's (like always) just an opinion. I still give it 3 stars because I know it's something special.

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 Age Of Impact by EXPLORERS CLUB album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.66 | 96 ratings

BUY
Age Of Impact
Explorers Club Heavy Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars EXPLORERS CLUB were a project created by multi-instrumentalist and one of MAGELLAN's leaders Trent Gardner in late 90's.As Gardner has stated,he wanted through this project to expand his musical horizons.The first work of EXPLORERS CLUB came out in 1998 on Magna Carta label,entitled ''Age of impact'',where Gardner is helped by numerous well-known musicians, such as Billy Sheehan, John Petrucci, his brother Wayne, Terry Bozzio, Steve Howe and others.

You will definitely find a lot of similarities with MAGELLAN's music in here,but this time the compositions seem more complicated and at the same time symphonic,balancing extremely well between complexity and melody.There are a lot of majestic and grandiose keyboard passages in the vein of DREAM THEATER,CAIRO and E.L.P. ,which sometimes are blended with ultra-heavy guitar hooks, for which John Petrucci is responsible.Petrucci has also a lot of space to domiate the compositions with fusion-like solos,sometimes close to ROBERT FRIPP guitar style.Vocals are handled by the excellent voices of James La Brie,D.C. Cooper , Trent Gardner, Bret Douglas and Matt Bradley, so this is another strong point of the album.The melodic parts are absolutely fantastic, featuring sensitive guitar solos, grandiose keyboards and nice vocal performances, which will definitely thrill you.All in all,this project managed to accomplish its goal...Trent Gardner shines as a composer and he offered music fans a great work full of demanding musicianship and tremendous arrangements.4 stars and highly recommended by my side!

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