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CHAIN

Heavy Prog • United States


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Chain biography
CHAIN was formed in 1994 and existed for one year, then the band broke up. After 8 Years later, Henning Pauly re-discovered old material on tapes recorded during a rehearsal and decided to produce the album in LA where he lives. It is called "Reconstruct" and features 17 tracks spanning over 75 minutes. Along with great melodies and memorable hooks, it is a concept album about the beginnings and end of time here on our planet Earth. Their sound is somewhere between progrock and progressive metal with a strong emphasis on themes and vocal lines. CHAIN is recording an amazing epic follow-up that is sure to please most if not all the modern progressive rock audience. This IS a highly recommended CD !

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CHAIN discography


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

3.80 | 11 ratings
Reconstruct
2002
3.75 | 18 ratings
Chain.exe
2004

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CHAIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Chain.exe by CHAIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.75 | 18 ratings

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Chain.exe
Chain Heavy Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Top notch album

Chain is an american progressive metal band formed around excellent musician Henning Pauly in late '90's. They released so far two albums, their second one named Chain.exe from 2004 and issued at Progrock records is a killer release in every aspect. Around Pauly the main composer are gathered some very competent musicins who handles instruments with an amazing ease. Some guest of the highest calibe featuring here, MIchael Sadler from Saga , guitarist Mike Keneally and two female vocalists. Music offered by Chain is very well performed with excellent instrumental passages, progressive metal most of the time but aswell with hints of progressive rock and even some jazzy interludes here and there, sporadicaly . The album is opened by the monster piece Cities, almost 39 min long track divided in 7 parts, absolutly killer , the instrumental sections are super, the musicianship is top notch, the keybords offered by Stephan Kernbach are one of the best I've heared on a prog metal album just to be check out the second part of Cities, simply great. The guitars of Henning Pauly is brilliant , he is capable to shift in only few seconds from prog metal chops to purely atmospheric passges and aswell he interlude very well with Keneally guitar. The druming is awesome, very busy drumer with some great and complex chops, just the gear Chain needed to come with a special album. Now, about the guests, Sadler voice is great, he is ina big form and he fiting like glove in the Chain music, his tone of voice is perfect for such aproach, very fine moments specially on Cities. Great choruses on Never leave the past behinnd another highlight of the album, lenghy again 11 min, with plenty of super passages , catchy vocal parts and groovy atmosphere. All in all an excellent example of how must sound a prog metal album, quite in the shadow of many other releases of that period and for sure needed a far more wider recognition. 4 stars easy and warmly recommended fans of the genre will be pleased to maximum after few spins. Very strong, I don't know their first album, definetly I have to check it out, but this second offer and aswell their swansong is quite impressive.

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 Reconstruct by CHAIN album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.80 | 11 ratings

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Reconstruct
Chain Heavy Prog

Review by johnobvious

4 stars Reconstruct was an album I picked up after hearing Henning Pauly's first Frameshift album and the subsequent Chain release called Chain.exe. Chain.exe is one of my top 10 albums and I love Unweaving the Rainbow as well. Pauly gives the impression on the CD artwork that a full band is at work here but he plays all of the instruments. That is because he had moved from his native Germany to America in order to go to music school. After graduation, he dug out tapes of his old German band, realized he had the makings of an album and recorded all the instruments himself. His homemade recording was meant to be a surprise for his old mates, but lo and behold, he struck a record deal with ProgRock records and thus began his recording career.

The theme of the album, to quote the artwork, "is a journey through time, from before the beginning of life to a time when life on our planet is no more. Then, it starts all over again." Pauly is a devout follower of Douglas Adams and incorporates a lot of his ideas into the lyrics. This is especially true on the 7 different Earthscape pieces that are placed throughout the album. They are all simple, two or three instrument, narrated pieces that are meant to move the story along. The last one is the only one that can be considered a proper song. There are some nice "food for thought" ideas in these, but lose their appeal after many listenings.

As to the music, you can hear a lot of the trademarks Pauly would develop later on to a higher standard. I can't find a weakness in any of the instruments that he takes on and that includes drums, which he would later pass off to his brother on future recordings. The trademark synthesizer sound he uses is found here. He trots out the prog metal aspect but compliments it with piano and acoustic guitar so as to mix up the moods. Pauly has a very good sense of melody and uses it liberally here. The metal is not over the top and not on display at all times, which is about the way I like it nowadays. Pauly has never toured and so he can and does use a lot of studio trickery to come up with new and interesting sounds and textures to keep the feel fresh. Matt Cash is the vocalist. Cash has a capable voice but may turn some off in some of the songs. Pauly needed a vocalist and given the circumstances, went with the best he could get at the time. Cash later recorded a country album, but he doesn't have a country voice per se here. It just isn't a true prog metal voice.

This is a good "rock-out" type of album geared to a prog market. If you like any of Pauly's other offerings, I can recommend this without hesitation. Once he got a name for himself and began collaborating with other vocalists and musicians that were able to augment his wonderful songwriting skills is when he really began to shine. But Reconstruct is a very solid effort right out of the box. Wavering between 3 and 4 stars but believe it is closer to 4.

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 Chain.exe by CHAIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.75 | 18 ratings

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Chain.exe
Chain Heavy Prog

Review by epifreak

4 stars So apparently I get to be the first to rate this album something other than 3 or 5, so nyah!

Anyway, though not perfect, this album's good features far outweigh its bad. As everyone before me has referenced, the cities epic is an excellent song, though it probably should have just been one 38 minute track, as opposed to seven shorter tracks. The only time I like splitting tracks up like that is when each stands on its own, which these do not. Nobody wants to listen to just one part of Cities; it's a 38 minute song.

As for the other tracks, most are very good. She Looks Like You is a rather tasty ballad, making especially nice use of the band's keys. Eama Hut is probably the album's most frantic and heaviest piece and is also an excellent song. Never Leave the Past Behind is most definitely my favorite song. Clocking in at a paltry ten minutes in length (well, paltry compared to the 38 minute Cities), this song easily feels more epic, grandiose, and intense than Cities. The chorus is simply huge, contrasted against the fairly sparse verses. The song continues to build, shifting through heavier and lighter portions, never growing stale. Hot to Cold irritates me. Nearly everything about the song grates on my nerves. I suppose it's probably not that bad of a song, but I simply don't like it. Last Chance to See begins with a very light section, reminiscent of lounge music. This lasts for about two minutes before the song begins to change. It picks up slightly in tempo, as a banjo enters the mix before achieving epic heights at around 2.5 minutes. Overall, a fairly disjointed song, but still rather enjoyable.

In terms of what is specifically good about the album, two things specifically come to mind: flow and keyboards. The flow is probably the more important of the two aspects. The music almost always flows gently and naturally into new feels, leaving the listener with no ragged questionable transitions. This makes the album feel like a sort of road trip cross country. The countryside slowly changes without you really noticing the shift until it's already happened. Additionally, the keyboards struck me on this album. Put simply, I usually dislike prog keyboards. They frequently use stereotypical synthesizer effect #3 (you know the one I'm talking about) and try to play guitarist. I have no problems with keys taking the forefront, but they rarely emulate a guitar's role as well as a guitar would. In this album, however, the keyboards find their own niche. Tonally, they tend more towards organic sounds or atmospheric sounds. They frequently emulate strings and orchestra hits, which is a pleasant break from all the Jordan Ruddess knock-offs out there. They are also frequently heard in the form of piano (gasp!). No synthesized mutilated sound, just a perfectly organic sound. They also take their own niche. Rather than trying to step all over the guitar lines and play guitar solos, the keyboards frequently take on Aaron Copland-esque lines (Beef, it's what's for dinner commercials). It's rare to hear this type of playing, and I, for one love it.

For the bad, the vocals merit mention. They aren't universally bad, nor are they even often bad, but some of the vocal work is a tad nasal for my tastes (especially during Last Chance to See). Most often, however, the vocals are good. Hot to Cold also falls in the bad category. The song simply grates on my nerves in an almost unforgivable manner (luckily, there's that wonderful skip button).

To sum it up, this album is an excellent album; however, it does have its flaws. I highly recommend the album.

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 Chain.exe by CHAIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.75 | 18 ratings

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Chain.exe
Chain Heavy Prog

Review by tassinaripaolo

5 stars Chain.exe is in my opinion the perfect encounter between a catchy progressive rock based record and a powerful heavy metal masterpiece.The album start with a 38 min suite in 7 acts called "Cities" , a long trip into an impressive melodic dimension made of jazzy inserts , metal incursions and dreamy atmospheres."She Looks Like You" is the melancholic part of the album , a well balanced energetic ballad that introduces us into "Eama Hut" a nice piece of prog with thrashy guitars and orchestral inserts."Never Leave The Past Behind" is the headbangers anthem of the enitre album , powerful guitars alternate to melodic sang parts and awesome keyboard solos (my favourite track!)."How To Cold" , imo , is the black sheep of the album....too much 70's oriented prog rock with a reminiscence of disco music in the refrain..."Last Chance To See" is an epic and fresh piece of prog rock with melodious vocal lines , 80's like guitars and soft atmospheres....One of the most fortunate choice of the entire album. I gave it 4 stars because is a fresh alternative to a lot of obvious releases. Paolo.

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 Chain.exe by CHAIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.75 | 18 ratings

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Chain.exe
Chain Heavy Prog

Review by Fishy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Half of the album consists only of one track of 38 minutes, divided in 7 sections which don't really stand on their own but that's not an issue since "Cities" is awesome. This is one of the prog tracks that don't need 25 spins to get into. The reason for this is probably the great deal of emotion and the memorable melodies. This is complex stuff but as a listener you aren't aware of that. Different melodies and moods shade off into another gradually. All of the instruments are played very well but the keyboards and piano are really top notch on this dinosaur track. Chains uses also the skills of some guest musicians and vocalists from whom Michael Sadler from Saga is common known to prog fans. The several vocalists do an excellent job throughout the whole album with big differences between them although. The vocal harmonies are great, sometimes dark and pastoral but sometimes uplifting, you can recognise some Yes or Peter Hammill to name a few. Most of all the excellent songwriting of "Cities" is simply amazing.

Chain is a band which started off in 1993 only to fall apart one year later on. In 2003 the band reunited for recording the music they wrote 10 years before. Chain.exe is the second album since then. The sound of this band is somewhere between progressive rock and progressive metal. Their musical style is quite unique but still it contains several influences from the history of progressive rock. Unfortunately not all of the other songs reach the same level of the major epic.

"She looks like you" is another track which shows the band is capable of things which are totally different. This could have been a ballad from Metallica or some grunge band. This song would make an excellent single with chances for a chart entry. It drifts on a strong melody. Great track !

"Eama hut" is a track which is rather heavy when compared to the rest of this album. On this track and the next one, the guitars are on the front. This should be listed under the file of progressive metal. The comparison with the sound of Dream Theater is obvious. The keys and the vocals sound as they were recorded at the end of the eighties. Not a bad track with a fine chorus and some sparkling moments but it lacks the emotion of other tracks which are included on this album. Even after several attempts, can't get into this one. Something just is missing.

The same review could be given on "Never leave the past behind" but It's a tad better. This anthem has some references to the music and vocals of Savatage and again. Dream Theater. The chorus of this song is great but after hearing it several times, it starts to be quite boring.

I can't see the point in doing a cover of "Hot to cold", a track which was originally issued by Saga. This is one of those tracks that defines the sound of this Canadian band so well. Chains hasn't come up with an original version, as theirs isn't sounding very different compared to the one which appeared on "Images at twilight". Not a very good idea to use the voice of Michael Sadler once again as he also did the vocals in 1979. I always loved this track and this version isn't bad either but listening to this cover version you simply don't realise this isn't Saga playing . Except for the vocal harmonies and the heavy guitar riffs, It doesn't add anything substantial. Moreover, on this album this track just doesn't fit in here. There's too much difference in style and rhythm.

On "Last chance to see" the vocals seem more important than the music which is odd for progressive rock. The vocal melodies are sounding like they were recorded in America in the mid- seventies and I don't refer to the production which is great throughout the album. Some of the work of Jim Steiman, Elton John or even Alice Cooper comes to mind when hearing this. Like on "Cities", You can hear several vocalists in one track performing like different actors in a movie, a bit like Ayreon does, but here it does almost sound as a musical. This is one of the best tracks on this album but it doesn't top "Cities".

I gave this album a three star rating. If I had to rate the large epic, it would easily earn four stars. The other tracks are decent but some of it simply doesn't reach the same level of quality. There's much difference in styles and moods between the tracks. Chain.exe lacks unity. You can hear the band is still searching for its musical direction. Using contrasts in music can be very interesting but here it doesn't which is a pity for the many brilliant moments. This album may be to soft for guys who listen to Savatage and Dream Theater. Fans of progressive rock will probably find some of the tracks a bit too heavy. It would be a shame this album falls in the gap between two styles of music and please no one. Still.you really should check this one out. Looking forward to their next effort.

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 Chain.exe by CHAIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.75 | 18 ratings

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Chain.exe
Chain Heavy Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Edited 10/7/2005!

I listened to the output of second Pauly project Frameshift UNWEAVING THE RAINBOW just before and I have to say if these two records would be combined to one it could possibly be at least an album worth 4 stars. And the essential point IMHO are the vocals which I don't like that much (although I've to say James LaBrie's ones are not perfect either, but still better than Michael Sadler's). Maybe I'm a bit biased because I never liked SAGA that much as well. Although the record starts quite impressive with the "CITIES" suite which is in fact a bit like a trip in a roller coaster and carries the listener within half an hour through finest prog metal sounds, nice acoustic piano or saxophone parts, rhythm & blues and a cappella vocals, banjo play.....and what else? Maybe all a bit too much of mixture and less might have made a better album out of it. The ballad "SHE LOOKS LIKE YOU" is absolutely right in place and provides a bit of relaxation from this weird trip although I have to say again it would have sounded better with different vocals. The next one keeps the listener of from getting too much relaxed, a prog metal piece with a slight touch of nu metal and vocals partly more in a rap style. The ten minutes track "NEVER LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND" is as well a quite prog metal one and is in fact the last one of the album that I find relevant at all. Because the cover version of the SAGA song (that I never liked anyway) and the cheesy, much too lengthy ballad "LAST CHANCE TO SEE" are really dispensible in my opinion. The number of guest appearances is impressive as well the names (for example Mike Keneally, well known by his work with Frank Zappa and reminds almost to Lucassen's Ayreon projects (that I'd put much in favour of this one). In fact the thirty minutes suite is a little bit in a similar style, but for me the quite R&B and sob stuff like vocals are sounding irritating in some way.

Altogether this album is still quite a good effort, but I think a bit less ambition for trying to mix as many different styles as possible and another lead singer would have helped possibly to create a better one.

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 Chain.exe by CHAIN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.75 | 18 ratings

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Chain.exe
Chain Heavy Prog

Review by johnobvious

5 stars This album is unbelievable. It is a thinking man's prog metal album. The metal parts are extremely catchy and rocking and the less hard parts are pure prog bliss. If you liked Frameshift ,which is an awesome effort in its own right, this goes a step beyond that. There is a lot less of the mellow stuff that was on Frameshift. We all can only hope that Henning Pauly keeps this type of effort up and gets the type of acclaim that he deserves. There is almost 80 minutes of music on this disk and IMO there isn't a note of filler. Excellent production and the vocals from Matt Cash and the guests are all very well done. Maybe not of LaBrie caliber, but you won't care because the whole package is top shelf. And if you think that the album is just the Cities suite and some other songs tacked on - not the case. The rest of the album holds up just as well as the monumental Cities epic. I give it a 5 and put it near the top of my all time favorites. Don't take my word for it, go to henningpauly.com and see what other people have been saying.

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