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Metaphor - The Pearl CD (album) cover





3.27 | 25 ratings

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3 stars "The Pearl" is the 4th studio album released by the Neo-Prog band "Metaphor" from San Francisco, California. The band was formed in 1993 as a Gabriel-era Genesis cover band, but released an album of original material in 2000. Except for the drummer, the members of the band have remained the same after their debut album. The lead singer is John Mabry with Malcolm Smith on guitar, Marc Spooner on keyboards, Jim Anderson on bass and Greg Miller on drums who joined the band in 2005.

The music for the album "The Pearl" was recorded in 2018 and released as an album in early January, 2019. The album is based on a story about a young man that ventures out into the world to find a pearl that is protected by an evil dragon. But, as the adventure continues, we discover that the dragon is the least of his problems.

"The Open Road" starts with a long introduction with the full band based off of a 5 / 4 meter and a repeating riff which also ventures to other meters while it plays out. After a while, the meter shifts again and a new theme emerges just as the vocals start. This is the style of music you can expect throughout this album. The sound is a complex and ever shifting sound and meters, but don't necessarily expect a Genesis sounding band anymore as it is definitely Neo-prog with a retro feel, but based off of the sound of many bands now. The obvious thing that remains Genesis-like is the verbose music, and with better vocals, it would be more enjoyable. The music is good enough and full of progressive tricks and traits.

One of the complaints many people have had with Mabry's vocals is that his voice is one dimensional. This continues to be the case on The Pearl. His voice is okay, at least it isn't grating or obnoxious, but it is also not very emotional as his range is limited. There are several places where the music or concept idea requires that he pushes those limits and it make his weakness apparent when he approaches those limits especially in the tracks "Lying Down with Dogs" and "The Love Letter" for example. As far as the instruments go, there is a nice balance of both keys and guitars with a solid bass and percussion. The musicians are definitely talented and the production and recording is mixed very well so that all instruments are heard. The songwriting and the lyrics are well done. Overall, the music sounds great, but there isn't any experimentation here at all, just great, complex neo-prog.

The tracks that stand out to me are "The Open Road", and "The Mist of Forgetting" for its ever-shifting moods from melodic to quirky. Most of the tracks here have some great sections that would have been much better with better vocals. "Romancing the Wurm" would have been a great track if it had been an instrumental or done with another vocalist. It seems that Mabry's vocals get worse as the album continues.

Since this album and Metaphor's music relies so much on lyrics, it would do them a lot of good to find a better vocalist as this seems to always be a problem with their music. On this album, the musicianship is better than ever, but the vocals lack, and they need to either write their music to match his range or find someone that can sing what their music requires, and I tend to think the latter option is better. The album would definitely be in the 4 ? 5 star category if this were the case.

TCat | 3/5 |


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