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Apple Pie - The Gates of Never CD (album) cover

THE GATES OF NEVER

Apple Pie

 

Neo-Prog

3.65 | 38 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Well, this is what I call evolution!! A few years ago I found out about this then quartet from Kursk strangely called Apple Pie. I liked their debut Crossroads very much, although with a few reservations, which was not a bad thing, since it was only their first efford and showed much promise. Now, six years after that comes their sophmore release, called The Gates of Never. Keyboardist Oleg Sergeev is out now, so they enlisted no one else but ex Dream Theater keysman, Derek Sherinian, to join in as a guest. Again I was impressed by the overall musicanship of the players, capable of using their great technique for the music. This is really a great team work.

Although billed as neo prog, there is nothing of the genre in here. In fact, the band now sounds more symphonic rock than ever, with a few nods to prog metal here and there. The album´s self titled opener is a real surprise with its heavy riffing and even more heavier vocals (including a few brief growls, believe it or not). This is the most Dream Theater influenced track of the whole disc and shows the band could handle this style easily. However, from the epic suite Letter Of A Dead Man (divided in four individual tracks) on the sound definitly takes a Spock´s Beard twist (around the time of their V CD) and some of Neal Morse´s latter, more symphonic works, including Transatlantic. Even Vartan Mkhitaryan´s voice reminds me of Morse´s. By the way, the guy did a great job and his vocal delivering is so good you can hardly believe he is also playing such a mean guitar. Add some jazz, classic Yes and even blues parts on some tracks and you have a good idea of what this new album is all about.

The results could be desastrous in less capable hands, but I found that The Gates Of Never does live up to the expectations. The songs are absolute winners, the arrangements tasteful and the perfomances of all involved are impeccable. Honestly, rarely I´ve seen lately such symphonic music flowing so evenly, from beginning to end, with every note falling so naturally at the right place. If they are yet not exactly too original in terms of style, they have the talent to at least do that with power, conviction and guts. Even the last track, with the corny title of Strange Thing Called Love, and its opening salvos of deceptively AOR synthesizers is really a terrific song that becomes a great melodic symphonic epic during its glorious 15 minute running time.

The production is top notch. Both the instrumental and vocal parts are simply perfect and there are no weak parts to be found on the whole album.

I`ve been listening to this CD for the last few days almost non stop and I can assure everybody that this is one of the best symphonic prog records I´ve heard in years: complex, yet melodic, full of virtuosity and yet accessible. With the Gates Of never the band reaches new heights and more than fulfills the initial promise. Congratulations for the fantastic upgrade in terms of songwriting and vocal department!

Final rating: 4,5 stars (not so final, since probably I´ll uprate this one to five in a few more spins). Remember the time when virtuoso progressive rock also meant great songs, emotion and melodies? Well, they are back! Highly recommended!!

Tarcisio Moura | 4/5 |

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