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Jordan Rudess - Wired for Madness CD (album) cover


Jordan Rudess


Crossover Prog

3.68 | 54 ratings

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3 stars Jordan Rudess, a classically trained keyboardist, started out in 1993 with a solo album. That's all it took to be discovered and become a highly sought after keyboardist, and he ended up playing with bands like Dixie Dregs, Liquid Tension Experiment and, of course, he became the replacement for Derek Sherinian in the band Dream Theater with whom he released several albums before returning to his solo work.

His 15th solo album, released in April of 2019, is called "Wired for Madness". It is made up of 2 suites and 5 regular songs. Jordan provides vocals and keyboards for this album, but he has recruited several friends to help out on this album, namely Marco Minnemann on drums, James LaBrie on vocals, and Vinnie Moore, Guthrie Govan, Joe Bonamassa and John Petrucci all as guest guitarists. That's quite an impressive line-up.

The first track takes up the first suite called "Wired for Madness ? Part 1". This is a 3-part suite. The first section is called "Bring it On" and it features a wide array of tempos, meters, keyboard and guitar solos, but it all moves ahead and a smooth pace, changing from heavy prog to the big band sound at the end of the section. It is quite an introduction to what you can expect. "Out of Body" continues to show his compositional skills and his prowress as an amazing keyboardist, showing that he deserves to be up there with the greats like Emerson, Wakeman and others. The feel is complex, and continues to move from playful keyboard sections to heavy metal sections at the blink of an eye. The third section, "Lost Control", gives you a bit of a breather as things calm down and settle into a simpler melodic style with airy vocals. Halfway through, things get complex again starting with more playfulness which is interrupted by sudden bursts of heavy energy.

Where the first part of the title track is 11 minutes, the second part (which takes up the 2nd track) runs for around 20 minutes and has a lot more sections and is called, of course, "Wired for Madness ? Part 2". A quick 30 second introductory track called "Entering Delirium" starts it off with dark, robotic effects. "The Other Side" begins with some interesting harmonized vocal effects and soon moves into a nice, progressive, organ led section. Synths and other keyboards keep things going. The brightness gives way to a darker sound by the end of the section, moving into "Chaotic Chaos", which begins with a lusher sound and the return of vocals. The moderately tempo-ed section seems a bit contrived, but 70's styled keyboards take over in a very progressive and cinematic instrumental break, which later turns into a "Humoresque" of sorts before turning progressive again. "Angels in the Sky" also starts off with a softer lush section and vocals, almost continuing the vocals from the previous section and sounding very similar. Things get even more cinematic in this section, including even a choir effect. "I'll Be Waiting" starts immediately with female vocals and the continuing lushness. Rudess is definitely talented, but also tends to have the same occasional drawbacks of his influences in that, like both Emerson and Wakeman, tends to fall to contrived and over-the-top sections. That seems to happen in this part of the title track more than it did in the first part. "Human Kaleidoscope" features a more complex and changing sound, from piano rhapsodies to fusion guitar to big band styles, it covers all of the textures that it can in 5 minutes before moving on to the last section "Infinite Overdose". This section calms back down again with female vocals. LaBrie lends his vocals on this section also, which are definitely designed for the climatic ending of the suite.

At this point in the album, the following tracks are shorter form tracks. "Off the Ground" is led by piano and vocals with a more standard rock ballad sound. Guthrie Govan provides a guitar solo during the instrumental break. "Drop Twist" begins with an electronic sound. When the rhythm kicks in, it turns into a keyboard extravaganza with plenty of progressive elements. This is like "Liquid Tension Experiment" with keyboards being the main element, a complex and ever changing instrumental. "Perpetual Shine" offers more of the same, this time with a funkier element, and a bit more guitar and bass. "Just Can't Win" is a rock/blues oriented number with brass effects and a synth and guitar solo in the instrumental break. The vocals aren't very convincing for the type of song that it is. There is also a rolling piano solo at the end. "Just for Today" is a piano led ballad with airy vocals. It is quite straightforward with an Alan Parsons Project feel. "Why I Dream" ends the album with a more progressive, jazz fusion style with vocals that roll along with the smooth sound of the music. The jazz piano sound during the first instrumental break is great and more intensity later brings in a synth-guitar duet in a call and response style before the lyrics come back.

Most of the progressiveness of this album happens in the 2 part, title track suites. It is done very well except for the part that kind of lags in the middle of the 2nd part. The individual tracks that come after are less progressive with 3 of them being standard pop/rock while the other 3 are a bit more complex, but not as much as the title track. The stronger tracks are excellent while the more standard tracks are a bit boring. It all evens out to a good 3 star album, great music, but not essential.

TCat | 3/5 |


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