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Rodrigo San Martin - There's No Way Out CD (album) cover


Rodrigo San Martin


Crossover Prog

3.82 | 17 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars This sophomore effort from multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo San Martin, while definitely still an incredibly impressive album, I think falls a bit flat compared to the excellent debut album "1". The sound has been varied from that album, featuring guest vocalists and containing an overall heavier tone than "1" had. While there are definitely great moments, "There's No Way Out" doesn't feel quite as consistent to me as "1" did.

"4378th Day" starts off with some great, cinematic synth chords that help set up the feeling of the track very nicely. Some awesome, jazzy acoustic guitar comes in over this and solos for a little while before the roles swap and the synth takes a melodic lead while the guitar puts down a nice, picked background. Gorgeous vocals from featured guest vocalist Jelena Perisic come in soon after this, and San Martin proves that his ear for vocal melody hasn't faded since his first solo album "1". It's about this time that percussion joins in as well, and the track continues for a while in the very laid back, relaxed vein that it started in. It's not until about the 8th minute that the tone of the track changes, with electric guitar coming in and a series of wicked keyboard solos serving as a bit of an instrumental break in the song. To me it feels like this ramping up of intensity could have come a bit sooner: the first 8 minutes of the track feel a bit homogenous, even if they are very pretty. Once the break comes, however, there's no looking back: the aforementioned synths solos are matched by guitar, and there's some really excellent orchestral parts toward the end of the track as well. As with the previous album "1," I can hear a lot of similarity to IQ in parts of this track. In the last few minutes of the track there's a reprise of the vocals, followed by a frantic final two minutes with plenty of guitar soloing and orchestral parts that make for a great finale.

"No" is significantly shorter than the opener, and it starts off on a completely different vein, with an almost funky bass line and only minimal keyboards. It's a much heavier track as well, with near constant guitar riffing behind the vocals. "No" is a drastic departure in style from anything San Martin has done up to this point, with a sound far closer to AOR then to the delicate, folky symphonic music he's mostly made before this. There is a softer middle section of the track that again features Jelena Perisic, but to be honest, I feel it sort of clashes with the heavier beginning and ending of the track. All in all "No," while an interesting change of style, ultimately leaves me kind of cool.

"War, Act 2" is the epic closer for the album, and it, like "No," begins on a heavier note, with distorted, riffing guitars that almost sound like they could have come from a Dream Theater release. After about 2 minutes the track drops into a far more relaxed vein, with minimal, almost ambient music behind the repeated vocal mantra "where do we go from here?" It's a haunting, mysterious way to begin the track, and the acoustic guitar lines that join in only help to add to the effect. The vocals stay low as well, even as they move away from merely the repeated mantra of the beginning of the track they remain remarkably restrained and low key, which serves this section of the song very well. After another minimal instrumental break, the arrangement fills out a little bit, with acoustic guitar, bass, and percussion setting up a jazzy, open atmosphere that would sound carefree if the accompanying lyrics weren't so bleak. A very strange, almost avant-garde section follows this, with some faintly atonal synths very faintly soloing before an equally off-kilter guitar solo takes over. This is a far cry from the delicately beautiful melodies of the first album, and it's a very interesting change of pace, though I must confess it doesn't do as much for me as most the first album did. After this a more conventional metal section begins, interspersed with sparse, folky acoustic guitar sections. It's an interesting juxtaposition, if a bit jarring, and I applaud San Martin for inserting such drastically different sounds into his music. Towards the end of the track the laid back vocals return, as do the dreamy, mysterious guitars, and it's on this note that the track fades out and ends.

I really hate to criticize an artist for changing their sound (we do claim to like PROGRESSIVE rock, after all), but "There's No Way Out" just doesn't strike me as being as strong as the first album. Where "1" was dynamic, fluid, and delicately beautiful, "There's No Way Out" feels a bit more disjointed, and while the heavier sections are a nice change of pace I don't think they're as effective as they could have been. Nonetheless, this is still a good piece of work that certainly has its moments; I'd simply recommend starting with "1".


VanVanVan | 3/5 |


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