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RELAYER

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Relayer biography
I don't usually care too much about bands that use the name of an album of another band because they are usually clones, well RELAYER are not YES clones but they have more than casual references, the careful listener will find also a touch of KANSAS, RUSH, MARILLION and even DREAM THEATER plus some AOR aroma that reminds a bit of TOTO, but in this case they deserve a chance being that their music is very efficient even when not so original neither brilliant.

The band was formed in the early 90's by Gregg Panmer (Keyboards and Vocals), Tom Burke (Bass and Vocals), Tim LaRoi (Guitars and Vocals), John Sahagian (Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar and Percussion) and Michael Ways (Drums, Cymbals, Percussion and Vocals), with this lineup they release their debut album "Grander Vision" in 1994, which according to most critics is their weakest work and IMO at this pouint they were closer to AOR than to real Progressive Rock, but this was only their first attempt so they had to be given a new chance..

After "Grander Vision" reaches the market, Michael Ways leaves the band and is replaced by Bob Kisser, who is a much solid drummer being very close in style to Bill Bruford because and seem the change benefits the band because their next album "The Teething Fashion" (1996) is a great improvement from their weak debut, the melodies are far stronger and their music is much more original and powerful what added to a very good production makes of their second album a good addition to any collection.

After the release of "The Teething Fashion" Gregg Panner leaves "RELAYER", but instead of replacing him for their next and last release "Last Man on Earth" (1999), Sahagian and LaRoi replace him, but they are not keyboardists, so instead of being a Keys oriented band they change into a guitar driven one with atmospheric and occasional keys without solos.

This album is better than their debut but not in the level of their second one, being more oriented towards Neo Prog than to Symphonic, a weak finale for a pretty good band.

Been searching information about them but their website seems to have disappeared so I wouldn't expect a new album very soon.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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FaçadeFaçade
Relayer Music
Audio CD$17.99
$14.99 (used)
Last Man on EarthLast Man on Earth
Import
Musea Records France 2001
Audio CD$22.97
$25.45 (used)
Teething FashionTeething Fashion
Import
Musea Records France 2006
Audio CD$21.99
$31.63 (used)
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RELAYER discography


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

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

3.02 | 10 ratings
Grander Vision
1994
3.89 | 14 ratings
The Teething Fashion
1996
3.87 | 12 ratings
Last Man on Earth
1999
3.92 | 11 ratings
Facade
2008

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RELAYER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Teething Fashion  by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.89 | 14 ratings

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The Teething Fashion
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars A small number of gigs and a line-up change later, Relayer were ready to come up with their second album.Bill Kiser took his place behind the drum kit, replacing Michael Ways, and the new work of the band carried the title ''The teething fashion''.Released in 1996, this marked the first product of Relayer for Angular Records.The album was also distributed in Europe via Musea Records.

Slightly more complex, the new Relayer album shows again a fresh and passionate band full of interesting ideas, split in short- and mid-length compositions, which feature intricate and rich performances.A light GENTLE GIANT influence appears every now and then, indicating a new element in Relayer's music, combined with the already familiar GENESIS and RUSH influences.Guitar work falls somewhere between MARILLION and RUSH'es ALEX LIFESON, while the keyboard parts are pretty great, often colored with symphonic textures and pompous deliveries, again MARILLION should be cited as an influence, of course along with TONY BANKS' monumental style.There are moments when the group sounds very close to compatriots ECHOLYN, especially in the more complicated moves, characterized by the clean voices, the changing tempos and the dense interplays.Relayer though were always a group with a strong sense of melody, thus another one of their works contains plenty of them, either through emotional guitar solos or the laid-back vocal-based acoustic preludes.But again there are also a few tracks with an extremely dramatic atmosphere, created by the crying electric guitars and the orchestral delivery of synthesizers, showcasing a band capable of flexible and mature composing.

For fans of rich, 70's-influenced Neo/Symphonic Progressive Rock, delivered in a modern way, ''The teething fashion'' is a not-to-be-missed album.Strongly recommended, an overlooked pear of the 90's...3.5 stars.

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 Grander Vision by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.02 | 10 ratings

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Grander Vision
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Relayer is a US prog band,formed in 1991 in a suburb of Illinois called Libertyville under the guide of bassist Tom Burke and guitarist Tim LaRoi with vocalist John Sahagian joining the band a year later.Initially named ''The relay'',they soon changed their name to Relayer and by 1994 they tranformed into a quintet with Greg Panmer on keys and Michael Ways on drums.This line-up led the band to the private-pressed debut ''A grander vision''.

Despite named after the eponymous Yes album,the band doesn't sound really like their inspiration masters.The opening ''Anyone'' is a powerful prog rock piece with driving guitars,nice solos and a very personal vocal performance by Sahagian,not unlike TILES' prog approach.The long self-titled 20-min. opus is a total different story.This one falls into the modern Symphonic Rock category with an excellent result.Good performance by Ways on piano,even better synth and organ work,the guitar work is fantastic and somewhere between RUSH'es power and GENESIS' trembling,not to mention the fascinating solos,with Sahagian in full shape once again.An easy flowing essential modern prog epic.The following ''The river'' is somewhere between Heavy and Symphonic Rock with fantastic work on synths,ALEX LIFESON-influenced guitar work and very nice breaks and changing moods.''Wire Mill Scars'' is closer to the later style with grandiose keys,shifting moods and a bombastic atmosphere overall till the great ending outro.An hounorable mention must be done to the very tight and strong rhythm section.

''A grander vision'' was quite a surprise.An unknown US prog band delivering energetic,diverse,challenging and rich musicianship with elements from Symphonic to Neo to Heavy Prog,without any mistakes in a very tight release.Highly recommended.

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 Last Man on Earth  by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.87 | 12 ratings

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Last Man on Earth
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Third album of this unknown progressive symphonic band from USA. The album was released in 1999 and was, at least for my ears in change over the second one. The sound now is more mainstream, more towards neo-prog but not entirely in this genre, they keep the symphonic elements but in other way. Last man on earth is diffrent from the second one , maybe because they lost a member, an important one by the way, Gregg Pannier, the keyboard player. Now they are only 4 members, and the key passages remain the task of the vocalist and main composer John Sahagiana and guitar player Tim Laroi. Instristing is that the keys here are only as support instrument, no more solos, only in background, but not bad. Finaly another thing to mention is that the album sometimes is to acustic, to umplugged, but as a whole not bad. Again John Sahagian shines on every track specialy on the opening track Change For Less, a hard prog number very good to open the album, Paint Me Red, the smooth and elegant Last Man On Earth (my fav track from here, excellent the vocal parts) and Take A Look, the rest are ok. So all in all a another great album by this american band, without key solos or stunning instrumental interplays, Relayer did it again, in a diffrent way , but again good. 4 stars, still a wonderful album full of great pieces and smooth arrangements.

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 The Teething Fashion  by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.89 | 14 ratings

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The Teething Fashion
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This american band is almost unknown by everybody intrested in prog music, i'm deduceing from the number of reviews, but for sure is one of the most talented american symphonic prog acts from the '90's. The music is very well composed , with some hints from the glorious Kansas, some Gentle Giant elements, indeed very fiew but they are, specially on instrumental passages, and even Queen on vocals, so mixed bag, but a good one all the way. The teething fashon is their second album from 1996 and far more superior than the predecesor, with very strong moments and musicianship. The musicians were unknown to me 'till i discovered this true lost treasure of the '90's and they are all skillfull with fine aproach to symhonic prog music. My fav pieces are:Left Behind, Marburg Friends, an almost instrumental one Cairo,Madness, the rest are very ok to my ears. Specially i like very much the voice of John Sahagian, very good vocalist who knows to shift his voice from harder range to a mellower section of his voice, great, sometimes is quite on the same level and manner of interpretation with Freddy Mercury, his vocal style is close to Queen's voice. In the end an underrated album, with a lot to offer for both, symphonic prog fans and more harder edged ones. 4 stars for sure and an album to aquire if you are intresded in bands like Legacy, Kalaban and maybe Rush here and there.

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 Facade by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.92 | 11 ratings

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Facade
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars After a long hiatus, 1999, Relayer has finally returned with Facade. There are a few changes in the bands sound; growth as musicians and humans being the first thing I noticed. Maturity shines through, but the strong melodies and crafty song writing are still there, better than ever.

Relayer plays a fine line between hard rock, emotive ballads, and pop ditties with classic progressive rock flourishes. I detect touches of Yes, Rush, Queen and Pink Floyd slithering within the music. For me, the highlights are the soaring vocals of John Sahagian. Combining the range of Freddy Mercury without the pretentiousness and vaudevillian flamboyance, with gritty rage and schoolboy charm, Sahagian delivers a powerhouse performance on each tune. LaRoi's guitar playing is really picking up some individuality, shifting between powerchords and intricate fingerpicked melodies. I'm happy to hear Tom Burke's bottom heavy Ric-o-sound intact and a busy as on previous releases. Bill Kiser's drums still sound great pounding out polyrhythms to keep the band moving forward.

"Slipstream" opens with a Rush-like open chord guitar melody, before the vocals take over with hopeful, uplifting, "don't miss your time in the sun" lyrics. A spiritual tune, "My Damn Self," is beautiful and heartfelt song that is part Styx, part Queen. "LaRoi's guitar work contains some Gilmouresque qualities on more than a few tracks. LaRoi even takes some lead vocals on "Bring Home the Sun" and "For Future Days," acoustic based songs that would have found a place on Animals or Wish You Were Here. "Parabola" is a fine instrumental workout with LaRoi's searing guitar and Burke's solid Rickenbacker bass-lines playing off Kiser's super-charged drumming. "Freedom" begins with a loose drum machine track and eerie guitar effects and builds into a galloping romp, a perfect driving tune, relating the freedom from a bad relationship. "Liberator 24" is another powerful rocker which screams to be cranked whilst cruising on the nations highways, with it many twists and turns. "Hope in Fairytales" would sound great tracked between "Too Late" and Spread Your Wings" on Queen's News of the World. I can't help but think RPWL when I listen to "Murdered a Friend." The fingerpicked acoustic reminds me of some 70's singer-songwriter music. Tom Burke's bass is in your face on "Pretty Toy Guns" opening moments, propelling the music along before LaRoi takes charge with a churning solo. Lyrically "PTG" has some heavy political overtones. "Mid Day Moon" features a sweet synth underlay for the verse and deft piano work throughout.

Relayer's Façade should appeal to fans of IZZ, RPWL, Singularity, Queen, Styx, Pink Floyd and those who just love melodic thoughtful music. I'm happy to hear the new music and hope for more in future days.

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 Facade by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.92 | 11 ratings

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Facade
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by dbrigham6

4 stars Get outta town!!!!

Roughly half of this album was recorded and produced by the band at a vacation home in Michigan called Three Dog Cottage (affectionately called Kamp Kiser for the weekend), which sits on the southern coast of Lake Michigan in the town of Lakeside. The setting allowed for few if any interuptions (family, phone, work, etc.) as Relayer poured out layer after layer of music, frequently using all 32 tracks to develop top-notch ear candy for their listeners.

Aspects of the weekend session (shorter than The Band's Big Pink, but in the same vein) included flying in an old-school friend Brigs (who has been a tertiary part of the band since its inception) from Colorado to support the group with food and beer runs, cooking, comic relief, and occasional feedback on the tracks. Recording time, by far, outweighed any other shenanigans that took place. From early in the morning to well past sunset, no less than 2 members and often all 4 members were hard at work tweaking virtually every aspect of each song recorded.

The lead singing and lead guitar were set off in a back bedroom while Tom Burke manned the computer and headphones for a majority of the time. Since Bill Kiser's percussion sections were already recorded, Bill spent much of his time offering his unbiased opinion on everything from the subtleties of the melodies to chord progression and synching the rhythm sections to the lead singing and guitar playing--sometimes his opinions were respected, other times they were respectfully dismissed, but by far, Kiser heard more of the recording than the other members. The entire crew did have a blast laying down the backround vocals late at night on Saturday, which included at some point or another every member of the band as well as Brigs and his tone-deaf pipes.

Interestingly enough, the DVD Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii was veiwed between recording days late into Friday night of the weekend session. Whether it was meant to inspire, divert, or influence the band in any way is unknown, but it was incredible to see the masters at work almost 35 years before. Other interludes included barbequing, utilizing the hammock, many visits to the firepit for smokes, a midnight shimmy to the beach, attempting to hail down a helicopter (with an ample spotlight), too much red wine, many many beers, partaking in a taste of the local fare, and walking through the serene forested, lakeside neighborhoods.

The remainder of the album was produced and recorded by the band in pieces over the next year until the masters were completed, but undoubtedly the weekend experiment of Kamp Kiser added some unique flavor to the often times mundane and taxing experience of recording, which hopefully resonates for the fans on the final cut of Facade.

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 Last Man on Earth  by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.87 | 12 ratings

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Last Man on Earth
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by rojo7

3 stars There are some guitar influences from GENESIS here, it begins already in track 1, "Change For Less". While listening, you're waiting for the keyboard to enter, but it's not! Still it's a compact sound throughout the track. 2nd track is more popish, nothing more. Acoustic guitar, good vocal, but rather a dull track on 3rd. Track 4 is more interesting, here they sounds more progressive occasionally ( in the mid section). The drummer certainly does his part here and carries the track to the end. The title track sounds a bit BILLY JOEL in the beginning but the tune has more to offer, but never really takes off. The next one is one of the best, but it is prog? "Take A Look" is very 80's and simple, yet the chorus carries you to the end. Number 8 must be the favourite on this album, the speed is increasing and the guitarist can show off what he is capable to do. "Sarah Lynn", no comments. Last track is to long, will it never stop? Throughout the album the vocal is very clear and gentle but still strong enough. From time to time it remind me of FREDDY MERCURY and BONO.

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 Last Man on Earth  by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.87 | 12 ratings

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Last Man on Earth
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Danbo's right: John Sahagian really has some Freddie Mercury in his voice. Others that came to my mind are SCORPIONS singer and slightly also Bono. Or Geddy Lee in early Rush. Mix all these and you get a close picture. OK, this was my first encounter with this US band - almost with ANY US proggers apart the biggest ones. My expectations were not high and so they were surpassed. First I'd say that connotations to Yes might be misleading. At least Relayer rocks harder and is not as symphonic or complicated. I don't hear much 'retro' in sound or structure; closer comparison, at least momentarily, would be some Hogarth-era Marillion (typical highly melodic neo-prog á la Pendragon or IQ this is not). Well done for an album where keyboard duties are shared by the guitarist and singer.

Usually I'm not so fond of sharp rocking and loud guitars but Relayer rocks the way it just grabs you and makes you float in music. I can't help but agree with Danbo on everything - also lyrics are fine. Probably I could't ever list Relayer in my TOP 30 of prog bands but that's a matter of my long-time taste in rock styles. When I want harder stuff this could be my choice - but don't misinterpret me: this is NOT heavy or hard rock really. The last ethereal track 'We Swim' resembles a lot those moody long 90's Marillion songs, though the length 12:49 is not true. It could be faded out around 9 minutes. After the track has ended, comes totally useless little jamming. But that's only a small minus in over an hours total length. Very recommendable to any listener of louder (American) neo-prog of which I myself am still quite uneducated.

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 Grander Vision by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.02 | 10 ratings

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Grander Vision
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Relayer's debut was both hard to find and a bit costly to purchase, but since I was so blown away by their second and third releases, I went the extra mile and bought this. I'm not disappointed, I can be obsessive about collections and I needed this one to fill the void. If nothing else, A Grander Vision sets up The Teething Fashion quite well. This band is a merger of Freddie Mercury vocals, Howe/Hackett guitar, a mix of master keyboarding; hints of Banks, Wakeman and others, a solid bottom end that nods to Squire, Geddy Lee and others, and drumming just as influenced by prog's early percussionists.

Poor production techniques are the main problems, along with a band trying too hard to create something epic. If I edit the first two and half minutes off the title track, A Grander Vision, they would have had a much better tune. The attempt at being artsy fails, with falsetto vocals and slightly off time gimmickery that just doesn't seem to gel. One other well intentioned mistake, is allowing one of the other band members to try to sing two lines. Steve Howe's ear ripping vocals would have been a welcome relief. The rest of the disc is okay, at best. A band still searching, questionable "la la la da da" lyrics when real words may have been more appropriate. Padding, the probable downfall of prog, is evident in more than a few instances. If you don't have anything interesting to say, say nothing at all. So what if the song comes in at 17:00 rather then 22:00. Keep it fresh.

I would say that Relayer learned a lot during this first endeavor and certainly improved their product, but if you have the money to buy this, use it for something else.

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 Last Man on Earth  by RELAYER album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.87 | 12 ratings

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Last Man on Earth
Relayer Symphonic Prog

Review by Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Relayer ditched it's keyboard player for this release, so singer John Sahagian and guitarist Tim Laroi took over the duties. The result is atmospheric keyboard washes rather than a soloing instrument, nether player stretches out. Guitar dominates the music, which reduces the Prog element, but seems to free the band to play more immediate "live" sounding music. The Yes moments from Teething Fashion are pretty much non-existent. The members have eshewed the flavorings for a more hard rock approach. There are a few lighter moments, but over-all, they show off their rock chops.

The vocals are the key here. John Sahagian has a voice that demands to be heard. He still has the Freddie Mercury inflections as I stated on the Teething Fashion review, but is more straight ahead here, then the playfulness of the past. For me, this is the strength of Relayer. The bass playing of Tom Burke really comes out in this release, nice heavy bottom, not flashy, just solid. Bill Kiser keeps things together with strong drumming and tasteful fills. Not flashy either. Simply a solid foundation for Tim Laroi's chunky guitar work. Laroi's playing is neither over the top nor understated. He plays for the song. It all seems to work in an organic fashion, everything meshes and creates a lush sonic cornucopia of tones and melodies.

They aren't playing anything new or groundbreaking, what they are playing is just great music with some key prog elements; shifting gears from quiet, soft interludes to powerful climaxes, long multi-segmented tunes with odd meters, highly professional instrumental passages and well written lyrics. This is an album made to be played live.

This disc would appeal to fans of Salem Hill, IZZ, Marillion, Jadis...... Queen? Only if you liked when Freddie rocked.

Since this release is from 1999 and they don't appear to have a web site. I'm forced to assume they are now defunct, however I'd like to be proved wrong.

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