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Triumph - Surveillance CD (album) cover




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2.95 | 39 ratings

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1 stars I realize that it may look like I have something against this band. Some kind of evil vendetta intended to soil their reputation. I assure you that I don't. I knew nothing specific about them until I stumbled across their group's name in the prog related list and remembered that I had some of their albums in my mp3 library. Part of me wishes I hadn't because I could've stayed blissfully ignorant of them but what's done is done. Being a lifelong musician/songwriter I take no joy in criticizing a band's output because I know all too well how difficult, frustrating and time-consuming the whole drawn out process getting from the germ of the initial musical idea to the final mastered product is. I also admire the fact that this trio stayed intact for so many years. You can't say they didn't give it a good run. However, as a reviewer it's my responsibility to call 'em as I see 'em and in some cases there will be blood. If you're a fan of this group I mean no disrespect to your taste but after listening to several of their records I'm convinced that their tie to progressive rock is negligible at best. I noticed that this particular disc, "Surveillance," is their highest rated offering on this site so I was quite ready to have my mind changed. It didn't happen. In fact, it only cemented my dislike of them.

"Prologue - Into the Forever" conjures up a palpable Pink Floyd atmosphere complete with David Gilmour-ish guitar licks from singer/guitarist Rik Emmett. Unfortunately, the downhill slide commences immediately afterward. "Never Say Never" is a useless chunk of glossy, Journey- styled hard rock that owns no originality whatsoever. It epitomizes the formulaic, vapid crap that abounded in the forgettable era that was the 80s. The aptly titled "Headed for Nowhere" is next and it features a guest appearance by Steve Morse. The hot guitar work he adds is nice but it's like smearing icing on top of a pasture patty. It was a good move to let the former Dixie Dregs virtuoso graciously try to give them a shot in the arm but his effort is wasted on an inferior tune. "All the King's Horses" follows and I must admit that the serene aura they provide is a welcome change from the same old same old but, alas, it's nothing more than a brief intro to "Carry On the Flame," a number that reminds me of some of Whitesnake's overproduced schlock but that's actually giving this band too much credit. All in all it's a poor imitation. "Let the Light (Shine on Me)" employs one of those synthesized symphonic fog backgrounds to open the track, teasing that it might turn into a proggy deal but it soon belies its true crassly commercial colors by going down an all-too-familiar road to mediocrity.

The second half of the album starts with "Long Time Gone." I guess they ran out of song titles and had to resort to stealing one from Crosby, Stills and Nash's debut LP. I apologize to my readers in advance for my repetitiveness but the fact is I'm getting low on derogatory adjectives to accurately describe something as pitifully pedestrian as this. The odd monks-in-a-monastery chant they toss in at the middle is so misplaced as to be hilarious. "Rock You Down" may be one of the worst rock & roll compositions I've ever heard. This "anthem" is presented with an astounding dearth of enthusiasm. I've heard more excitement at a chess tournament. I'll sum it up in one word: Barf. "Prelude - The Walking Dream" may be puny and anemic yet an audible expulsion of intestinal gas would sound decent in comparison to the previous track. This short instrumental interlude is a lot like the curtain raiser. "On and On" is frightfully predictable and the name conveys the sense of weariness that overcame me at this juncture. I half expected Bonnie Tyler to start singing the lead vocal on this one but I reckon that observation says volumes about the mindless demographic they were aiming to please. It occurs to me that maybe we should be thankful that pieces of feces like this flourished in that doomed decade so that brave artists like Peter Gabriel would stand out from the herd even more. "All Over Again" is a sappy, saccharine power ballad that shouldn't be listened to until your sushi dinner has fully digested else you'll be seeing it "all over again" in your lap. Ugh. They mercifully end the torture with "Running in the Night." The best thing about it is that it's the caboose on this nondescript train of empty muzak. It's awful.

Honest to God, I really did go into this one with an open mind, hoping it would turn out to be different (in a good way) from their other stuff. Once again, they disappointed. In their defense it must be noted that the airwaves were saturated with this slick brand of pop rock in 1987. So much so that it would often make a progger like me listen to talk radio to and from work to avoid being made to feel nauseated. Maybe sampling this trash will help future generations understand why the grunge movement was able to conquer the music world with such ease in the early 90s. The public was sick of this junk. "Surveillance" turned out to be the last go-round for Rik Emmett and it's just as well. Triumph was defeated. While their fellow Canadians in Rush retained their non- conformist attitude throughout their career and reaped the benefits of their tenacity by becoming one of the planet's most respected musical entities ever I have serious doubts as to whether these boys ever had a rebellious (much less progressive) gene in their collective DNA.

Chicapah | 1/5 |


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