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Explorers Club

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A metal prog supergroup. This was the idea of Magellan's main man, Trent Gardner. Superb vocals provided by members of Cairo, Dali's dilemma, Royal Hunt and Dream Theater. Guitar parts were played by master guitarist John Petrucci (of Dream Theater) and are truly impressive (he never played so good, IMHO).The rythm section consists of another prodigy, Terry Bozzio (who played with Zappa, UK, The Brecker Brothers...) and Billy sheehan on bass (of Mr Big fame). This album is very dynamic and is sort of an opera-rock(metal?), at times aggressive and sometimes lighter. Highly recommended to fans of early Dream Theater!!!
Report this review (#10901)
Posted Sunday, November 2, 2003 | Review Permalink
3 stars This High profile thundering progmetal of an album really shows how excellent pro musicians can fare.......and i would without hesitation...recommend this album to fans of Magellan and Dream theater......superb musician ship..well produced tunes.....great stuff!! I rate this one...well really 3 and a half star!!! And the reviewer who calls himself Paul.. Get a life !! Another reviewer NIKOLA..i dont know what the f... you are talking about... Get your head straight...why dontcha !!??? I think its alright to have different opinions on this and that music...your english are fine....but your reasons sucks!!!!
Report this review (#10914)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars An outstanding performance of every player, and a great way to show the world what progessive music is all about, stars like, John Petrucci, Billy Sheehan and Terry Bozzio, fill the package of great musicianship, all lead by master Trent Gardner.
Report this review (#10905)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a marvellous get together of a great group of excellent musicians making an exquisite album in terms of composition, musicianship and playing, with an especial mention to John Petrucci who plays incredibly well along the whole disc, it is almost perfect from the first to the final song. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any progressive fan
Report this review (#10906)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here comes the masterpiece from another League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! What a brilliant compositions and performances! I can say that this is the best Trent Gardner of Magellan's project ever! He writes the good songs and successfully completed the project with the bunch of prog masters. Him, Terry Bozzio, Billy Sheehan, John Petrucci, Steve Howe, Derek Sherinian, DC Cooper and many others show their great works. It's amazing! For example, just listen to "No Returning" or "Time Enough". There is a melodious flute solo which is accompanied by great "metal" rhytm. Just like JETHRO TULL meets DREAM THEATER! It's a wonderful experience of progmet journey! This album is highly recommended! Just go for it!
Report this review (#10908)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Age of Impact" is maybe yet another verification for the widely spread opinion about All-Star-Projects. Unfruitable, insufficient and uninspirational may be the perfect expressions for this opinion. Well, regarding the project "Explorers club" which is lead by "Magellan" front man Trend Gardner, you can certainly indicate an All-Star-Project. Steve Howe, John Petrucci, James LaBrie, Terry Bozzio and Billy Sheehan just to name a few musicians Gardner has gathered round to realize his ideas for this project. Similar to his main band "Magellan" Gardner is the main songwriter. The various musicians seem to be part of the project just because of their technical skills. All of them come up with several remarkable solos. Most of the lead guitar work is done by John Petrucci. The solos are incredible but I have following problem with it: The song structure is recurring and tiresome, bombastic prog keyboard part - monster solo - bombastic prog keyboard part - monster solo. you can unquestionably estimate the rest. One thing I have to point out is Terry Bozzio's intention grabbing drumming. He really did a great job here. But there's unfortunately another thing I have to mention: the vocals. I never heard such dreadful vocal performances. James LaBrie is a singer with particularly good and enormously bad performances, exceptionally on stage. On "Age of Impact" his "barking" is really insufferable. The other vocalists seem to be acceptable but partly even they come to a sticky end. So there's a strong contrast involving the excellent drumming and the awful vocals.

The first song, "Fate speaks" can be regarded as an epic.maybe not because of it's diversity but mainly because of the duration. As I said before, the songwriting is kind of returning and uninteresting. Yes, there are excellent solos but apparently they can also be described as shredding. I don't want to go into detail with other songs because it's exactly the same with them. Maybe I have to mention the breath-taking drum outro of "Last Call" and the extremely terrible James LaBrie.

I bid you to avoid this album if you don't want to waste your money. Maybe, if you like shredding, Terry Bozzio and don't mind exceptionally boring songwriting as well as very horrific vocals you can give it a try. I think two points is all I can give. Prog Metal fans can maybe add one star but in no case more, the genre has a lot of better bands/albums to offer.

Report this review (#10911)
Posted Thursday, October 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Edited 09/28/05!

As with his main band MAGELLAN Trent Gardner did all compositions on this ambitious super group project here on his own. Nevertheless sometimes one gets the impression he adapted them a bit to DREAM THEATER style to account for the involved musicians. First track "Fate Speaks" is quite a strong one but what's a bit disappointing that the basic structure of it, means long sections by Gardner alternating with solos by guitar or keyboard will be more or less repeated throughout the whole album. Although it's really an impressive demonstration of technical skill by Petrucci, Sherinian and Sheehan, not forgetting excellent drummer Bozzio the final result is not something one loves to listen over and over again because the good songwriting is missing and there is an obvious lack of creativity. In second track tempo is a bit reduced and it has an awesome guitar solo in its middle part. Thereafter they pick up again the theme of track 1 in the next one. Track 4 sounds a bit more like typical Magellan introducing a flute tune. Last track is driving and tough in a similar way as the first one.

I've to admit I loved this album in the beginning more than I do now, but that was still during a time I appreciated music mainly based on virtuoso technical skill as done by DREAM THEATER and MAGELLAN. Meanwhile I started to agree to some people criticising such type of musicians just showing how fast they can play. That's why I would not rate this album higher than with 3 1/2 stars!

Report this review (#10912)
Posted Friday, March 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars All I can state in addition to these mostly imbecilic comments is that I am confused and cannot believe that even people who like something much better than those stuff MTV (Music That's Vapid as I named them) serves are incapable of distinguishing intelligent from unintelligent music. They can't tell the difference between acceptable and good. Therefore they can't rate anything! This release is quite stupid but I rated it with one star only because even those monsters from MTV and some others, altogether mass brain washers such as Beyonce, Eminem, Hives, Cradle of Filth, Justin Timberlake, Ceca :o) and others exist. Anyhow, these guys shouldn't be physically eliminated, just banned to play together anytime, anymore, anywhere. Art is not only about mathematics and folk, get it? And sorry if my English is not too good, I lived my whole life in Serbia.
Report this review (#10913)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This project is just amazing. Perfect combination. The every change is perfectly done, I mean what do you spect when you have Gardner writeing music and the some of the best players for each instrumen executating than music? Petrucci's solos couldn`t be better, they have his signature all over you know its him playing since the string he touches. Sherinian should have played like that (or planet x) in dream theater when he was there. Well stop reading just buy it
Report this review (#10916)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been very fortunate lately and have come across a bevy of great Progressive Rock and Metal albums and I just want to spread the word among prog-heads. The first one I'm going to tell you about is Age of Impact by Explorers Club.

Now Explorers Club is not a real band. It's actually a side project of Magellan's singer/keyboardist Trent Gardner but if it were a band, boy, would it be a band for the ages. It seems like Gardner took a cue from one of his contemporaries, the incomparable Arjen A. Lucassen and wrote what is essentially a rock opera and invited numerous mega talented musicians to get in the act. Take a look at the plethora of superstar participants:

Rhythm Section: Terry Bozzio: Drums Billy Sheehan: Bass Trent Gardner: Keyboards Wayne Gardner: Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Additional Bass Brad Kaiser: Additional Midi Percussion

Lead Vocalists: James LaBrie, D.C. Cooper, Trent Gardner Bret Douglas, Matt Bradley

Soloists: John Petrucci: Guitars Steve Howe: Acoustic Guitar Derek Sherinian: Keyboards Trent Gardner: Keyboard and Trombone James Murphy: Guitars Michael Bemesderfer: Flute and Wind Controller Frederick Clarke: Nylon String Guitar Matt Guillory: Keyboards

Now I'll admit I haven't heard of all of these guys but with the ones I have heard of, Billy Sheehan, Trent Gardner, James LaBrie, Terry Bozzio, D.C.Cooper, John Petrucci, Steve Howe and Derek Sherinian, I know a Superstar band when I see it and Explorers Club plays like a band of Progressive Rock Superstars.

About Trent Gardner

Trent Gardner is the band leader of the Progressive Rock Band Magellan. He writes all the songs, sings and plays keyboards. While this is probably enough to keep most musicians busy, it obviously isn't enough for Gardner and several of his contemporaries, like LeBrie, Sherinian and Petrucci who together probably have more side projects than actual band recordings. Gardner for one has produced two subsequent side project releases in the rock opera, Leonardo: The Absolute Man (2001) and a second Explorers Club release, Raising the Mammoth. (2002)

Age of Impact

If you like good Progressive Rock , you're going to love Age of Impact. Though it consists of only five songs, in true prog-rock tradition they average over ten and a half minutes.

The music varies from a Dream Theaterish sound as on the sixteen minute lead song, "Fate Speaks" to a mellower sound which is evident on portions of the middle tracks. I find the variety of singers (there are five) quite exhilarating. They are all very good and they each take the lead for a song with LaBrie taking two and Gardner harmonizing, except for a portion of the last track where he takes the lead. As you might expect there is a lot of instrumentation and soloing but the vocals take a back seat to no one. The music is melodious, despite being prog, the singers are excellent and the lyrics are meaningful.

"Fate Speaks" features Douglas and Gardner on vocals with a several solos, including Petruuci's four minute opening and keyboard and more guitar solos in a strong progressive sound. "Fading Fast" has a very interesting almost oriental sounding beginning, including some heavy bass drums, before changing direction into a progressive ballad sung by Dali's Dilemma vocalist Matt Bradley. This song features some soloing by Petrucci. "Fading Fast" segueing uninterrupted into "No Returning" featuring instrumental intros by both Gardner on keyboards and Bemesderfer on flute. After about four minutes LaBrie starts singing to this mid tempo number with strong multiple background vocals. Again Petrucci struts his stuff in the middle and at the end and again segueing into "Time Enough" where we have one of my favorite singers D.C.Cooper from, at that time, Royal Hunt. This song has kind of an dark mysterious undercurrent. The first eight lines of the first verse are the same as shown above for "Fate Speaks". In the middle we have an interesting series of solos from Murphy (guitar), Gardner (trombone & keyboard), Bemesderfer (wind controller) and Howe (guitar) and some nice violins backing Cooper at the end which again segues into the finale "Last Call", an eleven minute progressive jam gem as LaBrie and Gardner share lead vocals while the remaining band members, especially Bozzio go wild. Highlights of this song are the extremely catchy beat in the middle and Petrucci's four and a half minute guitar solo and drum ending. Guitar affecianados, you got to hear this. Steve Vai, move over!

Song/Track List 1. Fate Speaks (Gardner) - 16:00 2. Fading Fast (Gardner) - 8:45 3. No Returning (Gardner) - 8:20 4. Time Enough (Gardner) - 9:15 5. Last Call (Gardner) - 11:10

Question: What do you think?

Answer/Question: Well...if it's so good, how come I haven't heard it on the radio?

Answer: I can't believe you said that. That's why you haven't heard it on the radio. It's TOO good!

Report this review (#65416)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars okay i know i always rank high on CDs and but that's because i like to get only the good cds that bands release. And as much as I tried to find flaws in this album i'm sorry folks but i can't resist this album deserves five stars in my opinion. But anyway here we are with a great Magna Carta side project Explorers Club which is comrpised of Magellan's Wayne Brothers along with some great guest. i mean look at these names John Petrucci, James Labrie, Terry Bozzio, Billy Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, and FREAK STEVE HOWE MAN ON ACOUSTIC. oh could you not want to hate this album not to mention some of the other musicians on this disc are amazing. I was really impressed by the keyboard soloing of Matt Guillory and the guitar soloing of Death's lead guitarist James Murphy he is very good outstanding performance by him. But anyway first listen of this disc wow it really surprises me how much people talk about LTE, Transatlantic, and the Tangent and at least should mention this side project as each flows perfectly almost like a concept album. I dunno if it is but hey if it is then good job of making one guys. Anyway the type these guys have well its very heavy as metal but not really quite as metal so definitely Art Rock fits these guys perfectly in this genre. The soloing is incredible i have never so many great solos in my life. But then again John Petrucci is doing most of them so that's a mega plus. I espeically Love the last section of Last Call with the Bozzio and Petrucci craziness happening at the end its incredible. I think people seem to have a problem with this album cause its nothing but jamming no heart into and the soloing is just shredding. I have to be strict seriously check this album out it is soooooo much more than shredding and jamming there are alot of great things in each song. like Fate Speaks GREAT EPIC its 16 minutes of a cool heavy groove with some awesome solos by about everybody lol. Fading Fast i love such a nice ballad type song with the cool tribal keyboard stuff and the great melodic soloing by Petrucci. I love the bass part of this song its freakin cool. No Returning is Awesome i just love how songs can groove and this one definitely can James Labrie you are the man of this song. Time Enough is another nice treat with some heavy playing along with some awesome acoustic and bass stuff in the softer section. But of course they saved the best for last with well Last Call. I know i kinda spoiled the part about Bozzio and Petrucci but dude seriously though listen to this song it is unbelievable. So what can i say i love this album its heavy, melodic, jamming, and crazy that's something i love what most side projects do so please check this album out its worth it.
Report this review (#84980)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Two months ago, I had the unique opportunity to buy this excellent album, Explorer's Club "Age Of Impact". I was a time looking forward to this record and very happy after buying this, considering that I may be the only one in my cocntry who has bought this CD (I think). I've listened to this so many times and now I can make a nice review about this.

Magellan's mastermind, Trent Gardner, formed this so called 'super-group' project near the end of recording Magellan's "Test Of Wills". As he says in the booklet, in the end, this project turned to be the most musical 'fun' he's ever had. And I enjoyed it too, Trent !!

Members of this project ?

Rhythm section: TERRY BOZZIO (Frank Zappa) on drums; BILLY SHEENAN (Steve Vai) on bass; Trent Gardner (Magellan) - Keyboards (he also composed the songs and wrote the lyrics); Wayne Gardner (Magellan) on electric and acoustic guitars, additional bass and Brad Kaiser as Additional Midi Percussion

Lead Vocalists: JAMES LABRIE; D.C. COOPER; Trent Gardner; Bret Douglas, Matt Bradley

Soloists: JOHN PETRUCCI (Guitars) STEVE HOWE (Acoustic Guitar) Derek Sherinian (Keyboards) Trent Gardner (Keyboard and Trombone) James Murphy(Guitars) Michael Bemesderfer (Flute and Wind Controller) Frederick Clarke (Nylon String Guitar) Matt Guillory (Keyboards)

Sounds good ? It does !!

Being this a super-group, I paid special attention to the solos, which are a nice and fundamental ingredient to this. Also the production and vocals are very good. I'd give an special mention to John Petrucci, who has done almost all the guitar solos, with lots of dedication and work. It's predictable that there are some 'look how fast I can play !!' parts, but there's also very melodic and extremely emotional solos and songs, like for example on Fading Fast. Terry Bozzio has done a great work too, always innovative. Explorer's Club is IMO Prog Rock with some heavy influences, while not being too heavy to be Prog Metal.

The album consists of five songs (each one is an Impact), with an average of 10 minutes each, very á la Prog Rock. I don't understand too much the lyrics but I guess it's conceptual. Here goes a description track by track.

The journey starts with the giant 16 minutes epic "Impact 1 - Fate Speaks". It starts with a nice melodic intro with acoustic guitar, very epic, and then breaks surprisingly the heavy, rocker and dirty riff. The first three minutes of the song are some very well done passages with Petrucci solos. I must say the sound on this song is very Dream Theater, specially by the vocal melodies and the characteristic guitar sound of Mr. Petrucci. All the vocals on the album are catchy too. Basically, this song is different passages and choruses with lots of great solos in the middle. I specially like the part when Douglas repeats "Fate speaks, fate speaks, loudly !! ... " Nice, rocker, and at the same time, the keyboards on that part give me an electronic and 'mechanical' feeling. An amazing start !!

The ballad, "Impact 2 - Fading Fast" is the follower. This song is magical, it has something that makes me love it every time I listen to it. The intro is very experimental, full of effects and I can even hear some bongos !! Also, this was the first song I listened from this 'band', by this site !! This is, by far the most emotional song: it has very emotive lyrics by an unknown singer (to me) called Matt Bradley (from the Prog Metal band Dali's Dilemma), and the master Petrucci does one of the best solos I've ever heard, it's TOO emotional and melodic !! A musical 'orgasm' !! This would be a good demostration for those who say he's just technique ... BEAUTIFUL song !! You better check it out on the MP3 samples on this site !!

"Impact 3 - No Returning" is next. The good thing about this song is the intro, that goes from acoustic guitar stuff to heavy 'Magellanish' riff combined with a flute solo !! The combination is very strange, but it's pleasant to hear it. Here we've got James Labrie, who does more rocker and strong, even 'dirty' vocals, different from most of what he's done with Dream Theater. Again I can hear the powerful "Fate speaks, fate speaks loudly !! ... " The chorus here is very catchy, and we've again some great rocker solos by Petrucci.

"Impact 4 - Time Enough" is a mid-tempo song with the bis D.C. Cooper on vocals who does a great job here, taking his voice to a more dramatic side. The instrumental intermission is special and relaxing: a trombone solo by Trent, a bass solo by Sheenan, an acoustic guitar solo by master Howe, and again a flute solo by Bemesderefer, played simultaneously, all backed by atmospheric keyboards !! Nice !!

"Impact 5 - Last Call" is to finish the album. It rocks out with the same heavy riff I heard on the first Impact. Here we've again Labrie on the vocals, that are again very catchy, as the extremely catchy rocker chorus too "Now wait here, can't you see I've just spelled out reality, it's no fun, but it's now or never, it's now or never !!" Also here are some nice solos by Death's lead guitarist James Murphy and Dali's Dilemma keyboardist Matt Guillory. There is also a part when Gardner starts singing like trying to save someone's life "Last call, are you going down, down, down ?" and repeats it once and again. To end the song we've an otherwordly 4 MINUTES guitar solo by Petrucci, and also Bozzio goes wild during that final jamming part. A nice ending to this excellent disc.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any Prog music collection. If you like Progressive Rock in general and you'd like to hear this amazing musicians making good music together, this is a good choice !!

Rating: 4.2/5

Report this review (#92019)
Posted Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Yes another Trent Gardner project. I’m not sure why this is classified as Art Rock, sure sounds closer to metal to me. The lineup is pretty impressive, and qualifies as a super- group I suppose, although I think ‘super-project’ is more accurate. I only became aware of these guys from their second album as it features Kansas front-man Steve Walsh with some impressive vocal performances. Walsh isn’t on this one, but the attendee list is a rock’s who’s-who anyway.

I tend to have a bit of difficulty making a connection with these types of projects. The level of musicianship is always top-drawer of course, and this album is no exception. But I get the impression that the music is intended more to impress other musicians than to make any kind of artistic statement. That seems especially true here with lots of swirling keyboards and guitar arpeggios and lively staccato drumming and some pretty wicked bass. But in the end the compositions lack any kind of real soul, so it’s hard to get in to.

Highlights include some very intricate acoustic guitar from Steve Howe, particularly on the opening track, "Time Enough", and “No Returning”. Michael Bemesderfer’s flute work is a welcome addition throughout (anybody know who this guy is?). And I don’t believe Terry Bozzio is capable of anything but expansive, impressive drumming, so that’s a plus. But I’m not a particularly big fan of either James LaBrie or Trent Gardner’s vocals, and on all but “Fading Fast” I think there’s too much of both of them. Most of these tracks would have more than likely sounded better as instrumentals. “Fading Fast” is the lone exception, as the vocals fit quite well with the more subdued keyboard passages. Overall the more interesting tracks are that one and "Time Enough".

I don’t know much about the background for this project, but I do know that both albums are supposed to be all about exploring a theme. In this one’s case I believe the theme is a kind of nebulous idea about examining life from different angles, sort of a metal-driven search for the meaning of life I guess. And sort of a weak conclusion.

Like I said, the musicianship here is as good as it gets, and the arrangements are highly varied and interesting to listen to. But the overall impression is not very lasting or inspiring, so I would have to say that this feels like a three star album. Recommended to fans of any of the superstars who appear on the album and to professional and amateur musicians alike (especially guitar and bass players), as they will probably be impressed with the playing of those instruments. Not particularly recommended to anyone else though.


Report this review (#106319)
Posted Saturday, January 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When several years ago I wanted to complete my DT-collection and was also interested in related bands or projects I noticed this album and saw that my most favourite DT-member (John Petrucci) played a part in it, I thought well let's take it. My expectations were surpassed by a long way, because this is really excellent !

The Explorer's club was very wise to put the best part of this concept-album in the front. Fate Speaks is an unbelievable piece of work, a huge composition which will be liked by DT-fans and probably most prog metal fans ! It contains a lot of elements, starts very quiet with an acoustic guitar, then breaks loose in a heavy hurricane of sound followed by great guitarriffs, good vocalling performance (Douglas) and it goes on with all kinds of different compositional elements. This is one of the best songs I know !

It continues with a slower, more quiet part (Fading fast), not bad but far less in my opinion.

Part three (No returning) is more impressive again, not as good as part one but better than the second song. Part four (Time enough) can be more or less compared to part two, somewhat quiet.

Then part 5 (Last Call). You could say: the sting is in the tail ! A very good grand finale, as good as you can get, really. What stands out here is an absolutely unbelievable guitarperformance by John Petrucci. This is guitarplaying how I like it best. I like very melodic stuff or endless and virtuoso playing on and on and on. And that's what is happening in this 5th part. Petrucci is even better here than on his LTE-projects (and that is hardly possible).

So thanks to part 1 and 5, somewhat less part three and the also acceptable part 2 and 4 I rate this in the highest category. There is no other possibility. Highly recommended !

Report this review (#145211)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars EXPLORERS CLUB were a project created by multi-instrumentalist and one of MAGELLAN's leaders Trent Gardner in late 90's.As Gardner has stated,he wanted through this project to expand his musical horizons.The first work of EXPLORERS CLUB came out in 1998 on Magna Carta label,entitled ''Age of impact'',where Gardner is helped by numerous well-known musicians, such as Billy Sheehan, John Petrucci, his brother Wayne, Terry Bozzio, Steve Howe and others.

You will definitely find a lot of similarities with MAGELLAN's music in here,but this time the compositions seem more complicated and at the same time symphonic,balancing extremely well between complexity and melody.There are a lot of majestic and grandiose keyboard passages in the vein of DREAM THEATER,CAIRO and E.L.P. ,which sometimes are blended with ultra-heavy guitar hooks, for which John Petrucci is responsible.Petrucci has also a lot of space to domiate the compositions with fusion-like solos,sometimes close to ROBERT FRIPP guitar style.Vocals are handled by the excellent voices of James La Brie,D.C. Cooper , Trent Gardner, Bret Douglas and Matt Bradley, so this is another strong point of the album.The melodic parts are absolutely fantastic, featuring sensitive guitar solos, grandiose keyboards and nice vocal performances, which will definitely thrill you.All in all,this project managed to accomplish its goal...Trent Gardner shines as a composer and he offered music fans a great work full of demanding musicianship and tremendous arrangements.4 stars and highly recommended by my side!

Report this review (#147474)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Truly the best work of explorer's club, and maybe the finest work of Trent Gardner!

The 1st moment i saw this album on this site i thought: well, yet another side project, but it sound promising, lets take a look. From the 1st moment i heard this album i realized that it was a great album and its one of the few (well, i actually got a lot of albums on this list) that i can hear non-stopping for almost all day long.

Here, Trent composed an album about the end of something that i still long to know what is it, but i guess its the end of the world. The album is, in fact a five piece symphonic prog epic with a bit of metal in it, since the whole album is actually 1 big song divided in 5 parts.

Musically, the album is great. Besides the incredible composing by Trent, it gathers some of the prog rock greatest musicians to play. The result of it is definitely, a positive impact.

Fate Speaks: great kick off. It has numerous good guitar and keyboard solos, some nice drumming by Terry Bozzio and has the Cairo's singer, who's voice remember me Jon Anderson.

Fading Fast: mediocre, if compared to fate speaks, just like welcome to the machine when compared to shine on crazy diamond. That means that its a good music, but its worse when compared to its predecessor. Here the music is much slower, remembering a ballad or something.

No Returning: no returning is quite like a reprise of fate speaks, but with some interesting musical modulations and some different arrangements. It also have lots and lots of guitar and keyboard solos.

Time Enough: here, its like a omniscient voice is warning someone that the time is ending. I don't really get it, but the song is great tho, looking like a MUCH better version of fading fast.

Last Call: the end of the music and the end of the album is terrific! Frantic keyboards, guitars and drumming. If you consider that the album talks about the end of the world here the world is coming to an end.

Overall rating: this album is great, but its definitely not a progressive rock masterpiece. However, i think the 4 star grade is too low. Damn rating, there should be middle ratings, like 4.5, 3.5, 2.5, and so on. Since there is no middle ratings, i gotta play by the rules, so 5 stars

Report this review (#160262)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I was disappointed with this release overall even though there are many excellent passages throughout. I was expecting more metal, but this often is closer to heavy-Neo in my opinion. Which is fine, but my expectations based on the all-star lineup were too high I guess.

"Fate Speaks" is a good example of a commercial sounding tune, and vocally it reminds me of JEFFERSON STARSHIP. It opens with some intricate acoustic guitar from Steve Howe before heaviness arrives before a minute. The guitar is excellent, and actually the first 4 minutes are really good but then the vocals come in and it goes down hill for me. Pertucci kills on this one though. I have to mention Derek Sherinian's solo late followed by another Pertucci solo to end it. "Fading Fast" features Matt Bradley from DALI'S DILEMMA on vocals which for me is an improvement over the first track. Not really a melody until 3 minutes in when heavy drums and bass come in. Vocals a minute later as it calms down. Vocals then guitar soar 5 1/2 minutes in. Pertucci again shines 7 1/2 minutes in. Great ending as vocals join in. "No Returning" features some ripping guitar before 2 minutes. LaBrie sings on this one but not until around 4 1/2 minutes. Flute is featured as well. It's nice and heavy when LaBrie starts to sing, it gets lighter on the chorus though. "Time Enough" opens with some good grinding guitar as D.C.Cooper comes in vocally. For me this is the best vocal performance on the album. The guitar after 2 minutes sounds amazing from James Murphy. Some horns and waves of synths as it becomes atmospheric. Acoustic guitar from Howe joins in. It never does get back to the heavy sound of earlier as keys and samples follow before reserved vocals come in. I much prefered the first part of the song. "Last Call" has LaBrie back on vocals. This one has a nice heavy sound. Synth solo 2 1/2 minutes in. I like the drumming 2 minutes later and the vocals(Gardner) that follow. More great drumming after 6 minutes from Bozzio. Killer guitar solo before 7 minutes by Pertucci again. Murphy solos during the choruses.

Lots to like on this one. Pertucci for me is the one who stands out on this record.

Report this review (#175437)
Posted Thursday, June 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars I am generally quite sceptical about newer Prog bands and I usually stick with the classic bands of the 70's. The presence here of my hero Steve Howe on acoustic guitar was the primary reason for me checking this out. But I also knew Terry Bozzio's great drumming from UK, as well as the people from Dream Theater. Howe's impact on the music here turned out to be quite minimal, but I don't mind that since what I found was a great modern Prog album. Indeed, together with Dream Theater's Images And Words this is possibly the best album by a newer band that I have ever heard!

Explores Club is obviously a project strongly inspired by the classic Prog bands of the 70's (some of which some participants here belong(ed); Yes, UK). But while Explorers Club clearly belongs to a genre and tradition, I do not find them derivative. At least not in the blatant sense of so many Neo Prog and Prog Metal bands trying to sound exactly like their older heroes. The presence of legends like Howe and Bozzio lends this project some legacy often lacking in most newer Prog bands. Explorers Club manages to create a sound of their own; informed by the classics, but not copying them.

There is a slight metal sound and feeling on several passages but much less so than in Dream Theater. The sound of Age Of Impact has nothing to do with the 80's and 90's Trash metal that said band would lean so heavily towards on most of their post-Images And Words albums. Surprisingly, there is also sometimes an almost New Age or World Music influence on this album! Some parts of the second "impact" sounding a bit like Mike Oldfield with (moderately used) programmed drums and some exotic percussion. This feels fresh and sounds interesting to my ears.

The five "impacts" are basically one long, 50 minute + song. Bass, guitar, drums and keyboards are all excellently played. And the vocals and lyrics are very good too. The guitar surprisingly sometimes sounds a bit like Allan Holdsworth on some parts. The balance between electric and acoustic guitars is very good and there are also some other instruments, like a Jethro Tull-like flute solo at one point!

Age Of Impact actually made an impact on me and I consider it one of the best newer Prog albums (i.e. albums not from the late 60's to early 80's)

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#202678)
Posted Saturday, February 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars The problem with big collaborations of this nature is that there is usually lacking a clear arrangement or specific direction of the project. This couldn't be truer here. The rhythm section generally keeps things going for as many soloists to get in on the action as possible in between the singing, which makes this project seem more like a way to show off to musicians than really connect with anybody else. The division of the tracks is rather sloppy also.

"Fate Speaks" The brief classical guitar introduction has little to do with the massive sonic explosion that follows it. Clear lead guitar cuts through the thick mix of instruments. For the most part the lead guitar throughout is typical of the showiness associated with progressive metal (in other words, constant shredding), and the vocal melody is not that enjoyable, but the bass playing and drum work make up for an awful lot. The keyboard work is also a consolation in the generally uninteresting composition.

"Fading Fast" A haunting opening, some pleasant classical guitar, strange keyboards, and electronic percussion makes up the weird and eclectic opening of this track. After a brief guitar solo, there's the singing of some trite lyrics over bland synthesizer pads and that same electronic percussion. If I'm not mistaken, the guitar bit just five-and-a-half minutes in sounds a lot like one of the main themes from Dream Theater's Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory. The last few minutes contain some interesting keyboards and guitars.

"No Returning" The previous track goes right into this one, and soon enough, an acoustic guitar takes over. The keyboard sections are closer to symphonic acoustic rock than anywhere else, and are probably the highlights of the album.

"Time Enough" The vocals here are snotty-sounding, and there's some spoken word that's hardly discernible. The speedy guitars over the slow rhythm sounds impressive, but really isn't. The trombone is out of place, but really welcome given this track. The bass flourishes are exceptional. The trouble with this one is the vocals- they're just bad, especially over a stark keyboard.

"Last Call" The last track suddenly becomes a heavy metal song, but the vocalist this time seems to be pushed down in the mix. For the most part, it's a fairly basic structure that doesn't offer anything particularly new. By this point, the shredding lead guitar grows weary over such a repetitive background, This piece is little more than a long solo that wears out its welcome.

Report this review (#218602)
Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars I borrowed this album from a friend for the novelty of hearing another progressive super-group or in this case a whole super-team! Unfortunately I didn't like neither the song writing nor the production all that much. The reason behind this is the that same old problem that has been ruining the majority of these collaboration albums, namely that they usually aren't really group efforts to begin with.

This time the mastermind behind project is Trent Gardner and it definitely shows because it all sounds just like a Magellan album on a grander scale. In a way the technology is somewhat to blame for making people think that they can basically compose the main outline of the compositions and then send them around to all the collaborators without ruining the overall quality of the material.

I guess that John Petrucci fans did get a kick out of this album judging by the amount of Fate Speaks guitar solo covers that have are available on YouTube! I definitely don't blame them because the only thing that Age Of Impact has got going for it are the solo spots and even those can sometimes feel like a novelty. Being a collaboration album every artist has to get enough space for a memorable effort which sometimes creates truly awkward moments like for example the acoustic guitar solo spot for Steve Howe on Time Enough.

If you're a fan of creative collaboration albums then you should look elsewhere to get your kicks because this album is only for hardcore fans of the collaborators who are featured on this release.

Edit: Dream Theater fans might recognize traces of the Finally Free solo from Scenes from a Memory on Fading Fast (between 5:20-6:40). The track can be streamed here on Prog Archives so go ahead and look it up just for fun!

**** star songs: Fate Speaks (16:00)

*** star songs: Fading Fast (8:45) No Returning (8:20) Time Enough (9:15) Last Call (11:10)

Report this review (#267087)
Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have never been a big fan of Magellan, although I like some of their music I tend to find that the composition level is not high enough, their competence as instrumentalists is average, and the sound is too digital and electronic. At least the last two issues are solved here, but not the first one.

It's hard to understand how did Trent Gardner manage to convince such a stellar line-up of musicians and vocalists to participate in this project when the composition level is so low, and yet here we have John Petrucci, Terry Bozzio, Billy Sheehan, James La Brie, Steve Howe, Derek Sherinian, Matt Guillory? you name them, if this is not a supergroup I don't know what it is. I guess they were well paid.

Only the first track "Fate Speaks" is resonably good from the composition viewpoint, with a killer 4 minutes introduction mixing the styles of Magellan and Dream Theater followed by Magellan classic sounding verses / chorusses and great instrumental sections, and clocking 16 minutes it makes for a strong track, but even then it relies heavily on the soloing qualities of the guest musicians.

The other tracks are rather poor compositions only saved by the superb (and mostly long) solos, in particular Petrucci shines throughout the album, he was really inspired in this period. The inclusion of some flute and winds helps maintaining some interest but not enough, and the short appearances of Steve Howe on the acoustic guitar are rather uninspired for what we can expect from him.

Fans of prog-metal with special focus on proficient solos may surely enjoy this, but I don't think it deserves more than 2 stars.

Report this review (#304407)
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2010 | Review Permalink

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