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3RDegree - Ones & Zeros - Volume 1 CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.11 | 363 ratings

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5 stars Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1 is the fifth studio album by the New Jersey based 3RDegree. This release served as my introduction to the band after I heard The Best & Brightest on The Gagliarchives radio show. Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1 is a concept album that focuses on the problematic nature of unchecked technologic development that is currently surfacing and what lies ahead in the future. It is the job of philosophers and artists to issue caution as mankind continues to progress and evolve. 3RDegree does an excellent job of filling those roles and telling the stories of what can happen when technology surpasses our abilities to grasp and contain it.

Despite the darker and cynical overtones of Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1, the music and vocal harmonies are rather pleasant sounding. This is the true strength of this release. 3RDegree seamlessly blend progressive rock and catchy hooks into a conceptual masterpiece. To be recognized by the progressive rock fan masses, a band must be able to create catchy melodies but also have elements that define progressive rock ? different musical textures, a variety in time signatures, technical proficiency, and perhaps the occasional mellotron or Moog synthesizer part. Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1 has all of these elements and nicely harmonized vocal melodies to further strengthen the album. The effortless flow of the album suggests that it should be listened to as a whole piece (and indeed, that is how I prefer to listen to it), however the tracks The Best & Brightest, Life at any Cost and Circuit Court can stand on their own and serve as singles or as an introduction to 3RDegree. Fantastic lyrics are what elevate Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1 Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1 to a masterpiece level. The philosophical and questioning nature of the lyrical content is the general theme. "There are no more secrets in the modern world" and "Try keeping a secret in the age of the diode" from Circuit Court address a concern we already have and will likely only worsen. "The smartest kids in the room have done something very dumb" or "Let's just hope he's nice." from The Best & Brightest cynically points out the potential for a Terminator scenario with artificial intelligence. "Life is needing more life." from Life and the final track (More Life) underscores the concept of the album that we are always going to want or need more.

Stylistically, 3RDegree are difficult to pin down. Certainly they have their own sound, and much like Steven Wilson, they are musical chameleons where it is difficult to point out any dominating influence. Fans of Echolyn, Steely Dan, Spock's Beard, Marillion, Yes, and perhaps Caravan and The Moody Blues should take note. However, I recommend Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1 to any fan of catchy melodies and vocal harmonies but also require substance, musical chops, and an interesting concept (that is relevant to us all).

In a year where many of my favorite artists released brilliant albums, I feel fortunate to have found 3RDegree and this masterpiece, Ones & Zeros: Vol. 1. This is the best of the best for the year 2015.

Dreamcow | 5/5 |


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