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Relayer - V CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.11 | 9 ratings

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3 stars RELAYER is a Symphonic Prog band from the US that was formed early in the 90s. Throughout their time as a band, they have seen many line up changes through the years. Besides this, they have also only released 5 full length albums since 1994, and also took a lengthy sabbatical after 2008. The fifth album is simply entitled "V" and after 11 years, was released in August of 2019. The band line-up for this album is a quartet of musicians made up of original members John Sahagian (vocals and piano), Tim LaRoi (guitar, mellotron and organs), and Tim LaRoi (guitar, mellotron and organs). Joining this line up is Bill Kiser on drums, who joined the band around 1996. The album "V" consists of 14 tracks and has a run time of just over one hour.

Of course the name of the band makes one think of YES' album of the same name, but the band only has that in common with that classic band or album. The music is much more accessible by quite a lot, the music sounding more like STYX or post-"Leftoverture" from KANSAS. The prog is quite simple, leaning more towards a hard rock sound. The heavy bass is nice and might bring RUSH to mind, but the music isn't that complex. I would describe it as leaning towards a lighter prog sound and definitely not symphonic, at least on this album. That is not to say it is bad music, it is actually quite well done as far as a rock oriented album is concerned.

I must say I'm not much of a fan of the vocals as they are too polished and not really convincing for the style of music a good part of the time. Sure John proves he can hit an occasional, emotional high note, but usually keeps things safe, more in a BON JOVI style of singing than anything. The musicianship is quite good, but also mostly straightforward with occasional prog elements thrown in. The guitar solos are excellent, the keyboards add great atmosphere, but don't always stand out so much. The bass is actually the best thing about the album, and it stands out quite well, more to the front than most regular rock bands. The mellotron adds a nice touch to it all, but a mellotron does not necessarily make the music progressive.

There is some variety in the tracks, even with their more hard rock leanings in that there are quieter songs like "Earth and Son", laid back sounds like in "Silverface", and some good rockers like "Great Again". There are also some excellent stand outs like "Black Sand" which features some nice instrumental breaks, but again, don't expect a lot of progressive sound here, it's mostly just well done rock songs that are a step above the usual pop fare. There are also a few that just irritate me too, like the sappy lyrics of "Bye Bye" and the stupid attempt at humor with "Road to Roam".

In the end, the music culminates in just being an average sound, nothing too amazing and nothing really sets them apart. They do make a decent rock band, and if you like the MOR progressive sounds of STYX, then you should find this a great listen, but I find it a bit too MOR for my liking. Nothing really challenging here, just some decent rock music that could easily fit on any radio station. As for me, I've heard it once and doubt that I will have to listen to it again.

TCat | 3/5 |


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