Reviews in this issue:
Symphony X - V
Tracklist: Prelude (1:07), Evolution (The Grand Design) (5:20), Fallen (5:51),
Transcendence (0:38), Communion and the Oracle (7:45), The Bird-Serpent War/Cataclysm (3:59),
On the Breath of Poseidon (3:04), Egypt (7:04), Death of Balance/Lacrymosa (3:42),
Absence of Light (4:58), A Fool's Paradise (5:48), Rediscovery (1:24), Rediscovery pt. II - The New Mythology (11:57)
Symphony X make great prog-metal, heavily rooted in classical symphonic music. As they show with their latest release
V, which by the way has remarkable similar artwork to Spock's Beard's V (see the news page of a few weeks back), they
can be considered one of the main forces in the prog metal scene of today.
This high quality CD contains no bad tracks, something worth mentioning in the first place. Not all of them are equally interesting,
but the highly symphonic attitude this band displays can please me. The subtitle The New Mythology Suite, descibes the album
quite well, as it is a suite in the classical sense of the word, with related tracks.
The Prelude, featuring classical choir and lots of keyboard strings, is quite uptempo, almost like an Ekseption piece, classical
music with drums underneath. Then the first real heavy prog metal track starts, Evolution (The Grand Design). Filled
with excellent vocals, high speed drumming (double bass?) and a classical chorus melody line, it takes the listener into the
Symphony X world of Greek Gods and mythology. The massive use of keyboards give this a very rich sound. Without them,
it would be almost Iron Maiden like, or bare Dream Theater.
Fallen is really heavy, with ripping guitars, complex rhythmic tricks and souring keyboards. It's head-banging time! Still,
the symphonic context is contained. The guitar-keyboard duet in the middle is a mix between Mozart and Dream Theater. Cool!
Transcendence is the symphonic keyboard step (almost film music) to Communion and the Oracle. This
symphonic instrumental continues a minute into this track, until the slightly Pain Of Salvation-like vocal part sets in. The instrumental
skills of the individual band members become clear, especially the keyboard player can open up a complete aresenal of
tricks to make this yet another massive, bombastic track. It almost becomes kitch!
The Bird-Serpent War/Cataclysm is heavier again, edging towards Iron Maiden, also in terms of vocals, which start
to growl like Dickinson's at times. The harmony vocals edge towards Queen, a reference that will pop up later in its full glory.
The speedy uptempo solo's of both guitar and keys are well done, but short.
A movie theme-like opening to wonderful On the Breath of Poseidon, with very proggy breaks and very dynamic
changes. One minute you bang your head, the next you drift on clouds. Nice!
Egypt, well errr, has this famous Middle Eastern sound to it (surprise eh?). This one edges most to Dream Theater
of all the other tracks, in terms of drumming and guitar work. Also some Ayreon comes to mind, not remarkable since
they collaborated on the latest Ayreon album as well.
Death of Balance/Lacrymosa is another classical interlude in the style of for instance Ravel (at least the non-metal
parts ;-). The rest is higly melodic but experimental metal, quite complex actually. The second classical part reminded me
somewhat of the Overture of The Masquerade Overure (Pendragon).
The next track, Absence of Light, has that Dream Theater like opening, with some of the same tricks as Evolution,
and a catchy chorus. The guitar solo reminds us that we are still listening to heavy metal, and the Queen reference pops
up in the background vocals once again. A Fool's Paradise is a bit in the same vein, but still a strong prog metal track.
The Mozart variation in the middle is a bit too much, though.
Rediscovery is the calm upplay to the album's epic, Rediscovery II. Prog metal in its finest form,
with some references to previous tracks and a complex rhythm section, yet highly melodic, this track sums up the album.
The middle section with piano and harmony vocals could have been ripped from Queen's A Night At The
Opera. The track is as complex as the finest Dream Theater tracks and as melodic and bombastic as many symphonic
rock band. Wonderful end to a wonderful album.
In conclusion: I liked the album, the nice rhythms, the good vocal and instrumental skills, and the classical refenences.
They should however take care not to overdue the classical compositions, since then it may start to sound kitsch. But
Symphony X has managed to stay within that border on this excellent album, V.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10.
ReVision - Whore Venus
Tracklist: Beyond The Veil (5:05), Barricade Exit (4:13), Whore Venus (5:00),
Black Earth (3:28), Wake (5:57), Whispering (4:40), Clouds (5:44), Vampyr (4:01), Fortune Lying (5:17),
Silence (4:53), Drowning (5:27), The Bleeding (4:04)
|Country of Origin:||Germany|
|Record Label:||B-Mind Records|
|Year of Release:||2000|
I have doubted a long time whether or not to review this album at all. The music itself is not bad, but it is really
hard rock, and only occassionally do progressive (metal) influences show up. The main reference is (early) Iron Maiden.
Of cource, on the website you'll find the liner note that re-Vision have created something completely new, as all bands
always claim, but in fact this is a nice Iron Maiden clone. Why review it on DPRP then? Because at some times, they
do go beyond the Maiden direction and try something new, not always with equal success. The fact the Oliver Phillipps of
Everon produces the album and in fact does guest vocals, still doesn't make it prog. There is a large CDROM track on
the album, apparently in the form of some game or something, but it doesn't work on my pityful P-166 32Mb. Apparently
you need a supercomputer nowadays to look at pictures and movies. However, I was able to look at the movie, a seven
minute version of reVision, Symmetry and Sore Plexus (what a rediculous name, which goes for the title of this album
as well!) performing some version of Hallowed be
Thy Name or something like that. Man, was I glad I wasn't present there (in the Lucky in Rijssen, by the way).
Now, maybe I came arcross quite negative. Let me tell you that the music itself is not bad at all if you like Maiden. Sometimes,
there are some nice guitar solos (as in Fortune Lying for example, which does have some clear references to
prog). The vocals are not bad either, coming close to the rawness of Bruce Dickinson himself. A track like Drowning
is also quite worthwhile to listen to, with more variation then the rest of the tracks in terms of rhythm and composition.
The last track, a ballad is quite nice, bombastic and
sensitive. Too bad that this style is not applied on the
rest of the album.
So there you have it: You like Iron Maiden, you buy this album. You don't like Maiden, you don't buy it. Iesse siemple (as a
famous Dutch pizza-commercial goes). The final mark is based on the interest that the average prog lover would have
in this album and the fact that it didn't really grasp me.
Conclusion: 5 out of 10.
Krom Lek - Psychadelic Dot Krom
Tracklist: Long Meg (5:43), Indian Rubber Man (5:56), Face Pulla
(4:00), Gaia Mother (4:54), Evolution (7:01), Outer Aura (5:18), Pandora's Pots
(3:18), Corruptaplod (6:42), Strange Girl (2:58), Top O' The Tor (6:09), Summer
Krom Lek are one of the latest additions to the Stone Promotions family and
as the name of the album implies they are psychedelic to the core. This is the
latest release from the group with their first release Inspirational
Flotation Compilation last year having been a collection of recordings
that the group made between 1993 and 1995. How best to describe such a group.
Probably the closest well-known relatives musically are Ozric Tentacles, however
there is strong evidence of space rock influences from diverse groups such as
Gong, Kraan and Hawkwind. Furthermore accompanying the "traditional"
rock sound we have flutes, didgeridoos and tablas all of which embellish the
sound that this group has created.
Long Meg kicks off the album with a riff reminiscent of the Bowie/Tin
Machine era though this time we also have Michael Tonks' flute creating that
particular atmosphere. Dave Musgrove's vocals do give that Hawkwind
influence a bit more credibility especially as they strain with the higher notes
(hints of Lemmy at times!). Indian Rubber Man as the name suggests brings
with it those Eastern influences which are evident on the sax playing while the
bass line differs little from the first track. From the first two tracks one gets
the impression that the group are building on a similar sound that they had
shown on their first outing last year.
Face Pulla brings to mind the Ozrics with the quick changes in
rhythm that occur throughout the track. On the other hand Gaia Mother
re-evokes the Eastern Influences both in terms of percussive work and also from
the way the vocals are sung in typical raga fashion. How best to describe
this?...Raga-Rock! Evolution takes us to another corner of the planet,
Jamaica, bringing ska influences into the Krom Lek musical repertoire with a
rhythm section taken out of a Madness album. Outer Aura has a
sixties-tinge to it with that happy-go-lucky feel to it as vocals and keyboards
are continuously duetting between themselves.
Pandora's Pots brings in an influence from another continent, the
didgeridoo, however this track might have had more expanding done to it
especially as regards interplay between didge and the rest of the band. Corruptaplod
gives us that ska influence once again yet never quite descents into ska
territory as the group always manages to maintain a sense of spaciness to their
sound. At times they verge on the jazz-rock with hints of groups like Nucleus
Strange Girl comes on as a relaxer after the hype of Corruptaplod,
yet serves as a breather for Top O' The Tor. This ranks as my favorite
track on the album starting off with the haunting flute sound that Michael Tonks
creates and which is reminiscent of Ian Anderson in the way he breathes while
playing the flute. After that relaxed intro the track veers off into a rocker of
a song which has its roots firmly implanted into seventies rock. The vocals this
time bring back memories of the Canterbury scene of music with that high-pitched
yet strained voice which sounds so relaxing even when the group is rocking away.
Summer Sun brings the album to a close and once again we have hints of
jazz within the space-rock framework of this group with possibly the catchiest
tune on the album so far and hints of Super Furry Animals at times.
Admittedly I was not sure what to expect from this second outing of Krom Lek.
I was pleasantly surprised as the group have managed to fuse a whole diversity
of musical influences yet still hold onto the airy spaced-out feeling. This is
one for those Ozric Tentacles fans, a must for psychedelic fans and mixed with the right ingredients
this will surely send you to seventh heaven!
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10.
The Rabbit's Hat - The Magician
Tracklist: Ignorance Is Bliss (11:08), Soon (2:08), The Strangling
Conversation (2:50), The Sanity Of Mad Ideas (1:04), Just Can't Stand It (4:40),
Come With Me (4:51), The Biggest Dupe (2:02), Dying Without The Music (6:30),
The Magician (4:59), Sandalphon (1:59), Atlantis (1:28), Emotivator (3:07), Gaia
(4:46), Trepanning (5:55), Bo-De-Ban (2:23)
Before I start this review it would be worthwhile knowing
something of the background of this group. The group consists of Tim Jones
(vocals, guitars, narration, keyboards), Terri-B (vocals, programming), Steve
Ellis (keyboards), Rabbit (bass) and Norm Emerson (drums, programming) as well
as various guest musicians. The company responsible for this release is Stone
Promotions and one can safely say that Stone Promotions exists because of
Rabbit's Hat! The company is basically an independent company designed to
promote and produce space rock bands and hearing this album one immediately sees
the influence of the classic space rock groups such as Hawkwind and Gong,
and of more recent groups such as Ozric Tentacles.
The album itself is a fusion of these influences with tracks as varied as the
rocking opener Ignorance Is Bliss to the narrated Soon to the
acoustic Come With Me. Ignorance Is Bliss immediately sets the scene for
the album with Tim Jones' swirling guitar accompanied by Terri-B's shouting until
we are led into what is almost a retro-sounding rocker of a tune. At times it is
almost as if we are hearing Mott The Hoople or the early solo material
of Mick Ronson. In fact Tim Jones' vocals sound uncannily similar to Ian
Hunter and at times also to David Bowie though the group still
manages to keep that spacey kind of feeling to it all. After an eleven minute
plus tune we have a series of short blasts ranging from the narrated Soon,
the more up tempo The Strangling Conversation and the truly insane
The Sanity Of Mad Ideas which could have easily been taken out of Twin
Just Can't Stand It takes us back to rocklandia and once again gives
me the impression that apart from their space rock influences there is a certain
amount of influence from the traditional seventies British rock bands. On the
other hand Come With Me features a vocal duet between Terri-B and Tim
Jones with an acoustic backdrop. Terri-B has a distinctive nasal voice
similar to David Thomas of Pere Ubu fame, strikingly different
from the falsetto voice Tim Jones uses, yet the two complement each other
The Biggest Dupe is plain narration while Dying Without The Music
stands out as one of the best tracks on the album with a balance between spoken
word segments and Gabrielesque vocals together with King Crimson-like
guitars. The Magician has narration and sounds like the introduction to
some sci-fi movie or a concept album! A very spacey kind of song which though totally
uncommercial makes very good listening.
Both Sandalphon and Atlantis are very short tracks with the
former being instrumental while Atlantis is purely narrative, and both
act as a bridge between The Magician and Emotivator. Upbeat,
Emotivator acts as a showcase for Tim Jones and his Hendrix-like antics.
The remainder of the album does not feature any single track which is structured
in a typical song-like fashion. Gaia (any relation to Gaia Mother from
the Krom Lek album?) features narration, Trepanning consists of
soundscapes while Bo-De-Ban features a myriad of sound effects most
conspicuously the baby's cry with narration from Bob & Dean Fall closing off
All in all this album makes an interesting listen. The narration may be a bit
tedious at times yet the few tracks which feature music are good. Unfortunately
the album is a bit disjointed, and possibly if the group had worked a bit harder
and concentrated on the musical aspect of their repertoire they could have come
up with space rock album of the caliber of groups such as the much mentioned
Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10.
Census Of Hallucinations - Census Of Hallucinations
Tracklist: Spiritual Sensitivity (0:20), New Age Travellers (3:35),
Integration (6:20), The Moon (6:44), Lizard Man (6:01), Charlatan Express
(4:53), Flying Humanoids (3:31), Dear Prudence (3:17), Holographic Theory
(2:19), Gaia Hypothesis (3:12), Majestic 12 (1:19), Devil's Answer (4:40), The
Big Pink Jam Sandwich (9:29), Planetary Alignment (6:01), Orion (4:46), Window
Of Opportunity (5:53)
Another Stone Promotions release and therefore another space rock album.
Census Of Hallucination feature the core of The Rabbit's Hat in Terri-B
(vocals, programming), Tim Jones (vocals, guitars), Steve Ellis (keyboards) and
Rabbit (bass) together with guest musicians Kingsley Burn (bass), Norm Emerson
(drums), Dave Pipkin (drums), Michael Steadman (sax, flute) and Hardy with his
Spiritual Sensitivity immediately lets you know that this is no
"normal" album with it's Monty Python-esque opener followed by the
narration that has characterized most of The Rabbit's Hat releases while
New Age Travellers is repetitive and narrated with a tape-loop going on in the
background, hints of composers such as Terry Riley. However, where the
latest Rabbit Hat release was replete with tracks featuring narrated words as
the main structure, we only have one more track in this vein towards the end of
the album, Planetary Alignment.
As should be expected there is of course the space rock influence where the
groove though rock in nature has enough of that cosmic effect to give the whole
track that airy feeling. These tracks are Integration, Flying
Humanoids and Holographic Theory.
On the other hand there are certain tracks that stand out from the rest of
the above-mentioned in terms of their cosmic space-rock feel and they are Lizard
Man and The Big Pink Jam Sandwich. Whatever their dedication is there is
no remote musical connection to Jim Morrison (Lizard Man) and The Band
(The Big Pink). Both tracks feature lengthy guitar solos coupled with
synthesizer effects giving that sensation of floating in space. This is more
evident in The Big Pink Jam Sandwich which lasts over nine minutes and is
a pure cosmic ride. A track to hear with headphones on in the dark! Window Of
Opportunity is also instrumental but rather than space rock it has more of a jazz
influence with floating saxophone, dueting guitar and soaring backing vocals.
Vocals are not a premium on this album but when they occur the tracks they
are found in tend to be rockers. The Moon showcases Tim Jones' guitar and
vocals with the lyrics based on Neil Armstrong's words when he landed on the
moon. At times there are hints of early Genesis. Charlatan Express
is a unique song with an acoustic track interrupted at intervals with cosmic
effects making interesting especially due to the fact that the breaks occur at
unexpected times breaking the rhythm of the track.
In the three Stone Promotion CD's I have reviewed so far, each album brings
up Gaia! The track Gaia Hypothesis is in a similar vein to The Moon
and is entirely acoustic with soft mellow vocals accompanied by various effects
giving that broader sound to the whole track. Orion also is similar in style.
Only after hearing these tracks can I see the influence of the British
folk-scene on this group and how Tim Jones and Steve Ellis recorded a tribute
album to the late Nick Drake. They should consider an acoustic album as
As a final note the album also features two cover versions and these are the
spaced-out Dear Prudence, originally by The Beatles and the
rocking Devil's Answer by Atomic Rooster. Once again these guys
from Stone Promotions have provided an album which though essentially under the
guise of a space rock album is littered with a variety of influences some of
which are subtle while others more glaring. Probably of what I have heard from
their offerings so far this is the least cosmic when looked at in its entirety,
yet on the other hand should appeal to a larger public.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10.