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Cell15 - Chapter One CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.11 | 27 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Robert Scott Richardson is one of those people who, in the studio, can do it all. Guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, vocals, the works! And the result of Robert's studio venture is Cell15 "Chapter One", a concept album based on life experiences.

Now I'll say as I have been saying recently, there are so many talented musicians out there and so many albums of excellent quality. How is one to make his music project or band stand apart. Just being adept at playing symphonic prog or neo-prog isn't going to set you apart from the pack. And the first few minutes of this album aren't going to make you sit up and feel an epiphany or anything, even though the music sounds great. But listen on. Because Robert has his angle.

At about 6:40 into"Chapter One", Robert gives us the first hint. He totally bellows out the vocals with a rough, hard rock edge. Well, that was all interesting and if you were just enjoying the music as background so far you might want to pay attention. The classic hard rock sound returns at 8:00 to wrap up the song, and then "Man with a Gun" begins setting an almost Wall-like atmosphere with tension and suspense. A chorus of soft vocals sing while someone shouts "I don't wanna go. You can't make me go!" What's this all about? We step into a neo-prog format but with some hint of something older. An early eighties influence is starting to creep into the music. Enjoy a proggy interlude with bass, piano, organ, and drums, then a guitar solo, and by 6:30 we get, what? Is this late seventies / early eighties Blue Oyster Cult? Something like it for sure. Okay, so this I haven't heard since "Fire of Unknown Origin", I think.

And now for something rather unexpected. A rhythm of drums and bass that sound like "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" and keyboards that might have come of a Pendragon album. Bring in the vocals and we are back to 1980 Blue Oyster Cult. Amazingly, the steady rhythm is maintained throughout the whole song. But wow, how interesting. And this is where I am reminded once again that in the last decade or so it seems that bands are no longer content to try to reply the classic prog days of the seventies; they want to bring in some of that eighties sound, at least where it sounded good. This is working for me.

"Manny's Gone Home" is one of those blues-based ballads that again you probably would hear on an album from the mid to late seventies. The song turns heavy after the halfway mark and winds up with a big classic rock finish.

"Long Way Down" sounds like the late seventies sound is going to continue but then breaks into a modern prog keyboard solo and shifts into classic rock gear again. Robert sure knows how to switch gears from modern neo- prog to classic rock to classic prog. His voice has this rough edge to it at times too which really suits the hard rock side of his repertoire of styles. Get into that fusion of classic rock and neo-prog!

That positive and dramatic beginning to "Faith without Words" sounds like a big Pendragon style opening but abruptly drops a crushing heavy guitar riff with sandpaper vocals. Again I am hearing this Blue Oyster Cult sound in between the heavier riffs. As with all the songs though, we have to veer away from the main theme and find a slower section with an dash of Pink Floyd guitar.

At last we have "The Messenger" with some pretty funky bass. I'll tell you that it was bass player Dan McDonald, who recently left Elephants of Scotland and who has joined up with Richardson to be a part of the Cell15 band, who turned me on to this album. When I heard this track I sent him a message saying, "You must be having fun with the bass on this song!" There's a cool bass break at 3:40 that I can just see him enjoying. The song slows down later before building to its climax in a big neo-prog fashion.

The album might have been somewhere between three and four stars for me, but the mix of hard rock and Blue Oyster Cult sounds into a neo-prog / modern prog rock album has turned my ears. What makes this album stand apart from dozens of others? Robert Scott Richardson has concocted his own blend of music and I think I like it! Now be on standby as the second album is in the writing stages here at the end of 2016.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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