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Melodramus - 1+1=1 CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.97 | 5 ratings

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5 stars Melodramus is a Heavy Prog band from Salt Lake City, UT founded in 2005. The band has seen a few line-up changes and even disbanded after they released their 2nd album in 2010. They have now reformed and released a third album in August of 2019 called "1+1=1". The current line up consists of Zakkary Hale (guitars, lead vocals), Sierra Rae (keyboards, lead vocals), Samuel Hopkins (bass, harmony vocals) and Max Dail on drums. The album is available for download on Bandcamp. The album is made up of 10 tracks totaling 62 minutes, and range between 4 and 9 minutes each.

"Reaping" (6:59) starts off with guitar and bass riffs boiling along, generating some anticipation eventually bringing in the entire band. Vocals start at 2 minutes with the band in full force with a somewhat heavy edge, chunky guitars and an atypical song structure. The music does toughen up a bit more as it goes on, the rhythms go through a lot of changing and everything points to a great progressive sound and it definitely delivers on that promise. The guitar work is excellent and complex. The vocals come back in to repeat the last half of the melody and lyrics, this time with Sierra's higher vocals in harmony. Again, the guitar is given the spotlight to create another excellent and blood boiling solo. Wow, what a great opening! "We Can See" (4:52) starts out with simply Sierra's lone vocals, then that is joined by acoustic accompaniment, but this totally moves to a more complicated sound and both Zakkary and Sierra have major lead vocals on this track. The harmonies are excellent also, and the complexity continues making this another impressive track. So much great sound is packed into this track, but it doesn't ever get overbearing, it's just another amazing track.

"Angels and Demons" (6:37) begins with a laid back rock/jazz fusion style and Sierra once again takes the lead in the beginning and she also helps out on guitar on this one. The fusion sound boils into a more complex and progressive style. The lyrics are great, talking about the inner fight of good and evil. When the instrumental break starts half way through, the jazz feel returns as the guitar plays a laid back solo, but this intensifies and becomes darker. When the vocals return, they are still led by Sierra and harmonized with Zakkary. A harder guitar solo comes in next and finishes out the track. "Eternal Priest" (4:37) begins with hard and heavy guitar riffs with some lush keyboards layered in there giving quite an interesting sound, and Zakk comes in full throttle with vocals. This is a hard track, but still retains an interesting level of lushness behind it all making it a song of contrasts, but this all settles into a bluesy guitar solo in the middle before everything comes swirling back in again, creating a miasma of heavy guitar screaming and keyboard layers. Excellent job in mixing on this track.

"Ascension One" (8:19) begins with the soft combination of guitar and piano playing a jazz inspired style and Zakk's vocals come in more laid back and soft, yet still pushing for complexity, staying away from a traditional structure. As it continues, intensity and emotion builds. The track moves between laid back sections that build to complex sections, the 2nd time through the pattern, some harmonics are added from Sierra. Another heavy and complex guitar solo starts within the 3rd minute and effects swirl around darkening the atmosphere, which breaks down into a combination of synth and guitar playing off of each other while the music calms down. Heavy bass starts to build the intensity and the guitar goes wild playing off of this. The calmer jazz aspect returns with wordless vocals which also play off of the instruments a bit. The sudden heavy guitars bring back the heavy prog sound as the churn out some chunky riffs. They suddenly stop leaving an atmospheric synth that allows the track to flow softly into "Ascension Two" (5:50). Dark guitar and bass boil softly together and a thumping percussion keeps things dark while the synth brings in a mysterious aspect to the sound. Suddenly guitars and drums crash in loudly and the vocals come in with the band playing at full force. Zakk's emotional singing bring everything up several levels and soon heavy guitars and piano push towards more complexity. At 4 minutes, things calm down a bit and the vocals become more airy. The darkness gives way to a laid-back feeling, not unlike a Tony Driver/Kayo Dot style, but without the heavy dissonance, though there are some interesting textures in there.

"Smile" (7:52) lets the keyboards have a bit more of the lead in the beginning, and then the drums join with a moderate and hesitant beat, while the guitar starts to create a swirling effect. The vocals are more laid back to match the music, but there is still a level of non-traditional complex melody and harmony. The tempo speeds up a bit, for the 2nd "verse" but returns to a smoother sound for the chorus, and then a wild synth solo sweeps everything up into an instrumental break, and then continue when the vocals return. Progressive start/stop rhythm brings it all back to earth, and even in the softer moments, you can hear all of the instruments working together. A sudden scream brings back the heavy progressive sound as the instruments continue to create some excellent music before bringing back the wild vocals at the end. "Light Conquers All" (5:42) moves to a jangly, jazz fusion sound and more of Zakk's vocals as the track strives for a jazz/pop combination while still retaining non-traditional song structure. Some great musicianship keep this all interesting as jazz guitar flourishes whirl around and Sierra adds her harmonies to the vocals. Though this track is more laid-back, it still has plenty of complexity to it with a touch more intensity towards the middle, but ending soft and jazzy.

"Green Man" (5:39) is an instrumental that begins with a slight retro sound with heavy guitars and piano chords combined creating a heavy intro. Dynamics take it from heavy to soft back to heavy again with an ever changing sound. This track was recorded live, though it is impossible to tell that. At 4 minutes, the guitar finally swells to the front of the pack for a blistering solo. "The Grind" leads out with the piano and soft guitar along with hesitant drums. The drums finally find a pattern of sorts as the song settles in with Zakk singing lead and Sierra's harmonies. She later takes the lead in a short section to later trade back. The song is another softer track, but again, the complexity is still there and it even all ends with screaming guitar feedback.

This is quite an awesome album with some amazing instrumental and vocal work, some impressive lyrics, and plenty of dizzying and dynamic guitar solos. The music is mostly complex, but not over the top either, with a lot of jazz influences in places, and with no fear of becoming heavy when it needs to be. The big word here is dynamics which are used quite well throughout the album. The music is emotional and heartfelt, not just in the singing, but in the powerful instrumental sections. This album is yet another bright diamond in the best albums in 2019, and it seems this has been a stellar year for prog music, and this excellent album is another example of that. Having not heard this band before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I am very impressed. Strong, powerful, dynamic and very progressive, the album has everything needed for a 5 star release.

TCat | 5/5 |


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