Product Reviews By User
Masterpiece of Progressive RockThere have been many phenomenal progressive rock albums over the years from Yes, EL&P, King Crimson, early 70's Genesis, and even today's best bands, like Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation; but Relayer has to be number one.
"Fragile", "Close to the Edge" and "The Yes Album" were fantastic albums, but Relayer just showcased what these immensely talented guys could really do. It is ironic that their greatest release doesn't even have Rick Wakeman on it, but what an incredible job Patrick Moraz did filling in.
The three pieces are totally unrelated to each other - they almost sound like three different fantastic bands performing. "Gates" is my absolute favorite rock piece of all time. It starts out simple enough, but soon evolves into a mind-blowing battle complete with the sound effects in the background and Steve Howe's and Chris Squire's extraordinary guitar and bass runs. Through it all, Alan White somehow keeps the rhythm from getting out of hand, as he drives relentlessly on and keeps everyone together. The ending is the absolutely beautiful "Soon", with Jon's voice in perfect pitch with Moraz's keys as the piece fades away.
"Sound Chaser" is a difficult piece with impressive rhythm changes, fantastic drumming and bass playing, and Steve's wild unaccompanied guitar solo. There is also a soaring keys solo from Moraz, his finest playing on the album.
The final piece is "To Be Over", a ballad of sorts that is just extraordinary to listen to. The beautiful guitar chords Steve lays down, and Jon's voice over the top of it all, just gives the listener chills.
I remember going to see the Relayer tour back in the mid-70's with my band at the old Boston Garden, and we all left shaking our heads in disbelief that they actually pulled these extremely difficult pieces off (plus all the others) live. Most of the people came to hear "Roundabout", but the "Gates" performance is the one I'll never forget.
Submitted by a reviewer (Lakeville, MA) 8/18/2005
Office of Strategic Influence (2003)
Very Nice Change of PaceThis CD features some familiar faces, including members from Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree and Fates Warning, three of the great progressive rock bands around. If you had to pick which band this CD sounds the most like, I would say Porcupine Tree. It doesn't sound anything like DT. The music is fun to listen to, and it is most enjoyable to sit back and relax with. Jim Matheos has never been known as a guitar shredder, but he has a great knack of putting down layers of chords that build slowly to a grand conclusion.
Some of the cuts sound like they could be a backdrop for "Alias" or "CSI", with pulsating drum rhythms from Mike keeping the excitement going forward. Mike's playing is understated, tasteful, and quite laid back (for him), which is just what is called for here. There are no double bass pyrotechnics or dazzling fills we always hear from him with DT, just excellent, clean drumming.
Enjoy this disc, it is a nice change of pace.
Submitted by a reviewer (Lakeville, MA) 6/15/2005
||Pain Of Salvation|
Be (2004) Top Seller
Ambitious Effort Comes up ShortBy looking at the various reviews, you get the idea that this is an uneven performance. Some of this release is deserving of 5 stars, but too much of it deserves only one.
I agree with the reviewer that mentions skipping over songs - that is exactly what I find myself doing. This CD is Daniel Gildenlow's concept album of explaining where we fit in the history of evolution; no small task! Unfortunately, we end up with a very uneven mix of alternately boring (slow-paced, confusing background sounds, narration), and excellent (classic POS) pieces strung together randomly.
Daniel explains in his liner notes that putting this concept album together over the last several years left him exhausted - but it leaves the listener the same way. You find yourself really fighting to stay with the musical concept, and ultimately, skipping tracks.
They need to get back to "Perfect Element" and "Remedy Lane", two of the greatest discs "progressive rock" has ever seen.
Submitted by a reviewer (Lakeville, MA, USA) 2/2/2005
Live at Last (2004)
Fantastic Live PerformanceThis double CD set from Enchant covers a lot of material from the band's expansive repertoire over 11 years. The quality of the live recording is very good and expertly produced by guitarist Doug Ott. What really got me hooked on Enchant a couple of years ago was the fantastic voice of Ted Leonard. He sings with great emotion, has extraordinary vocal range, and can hold notes forever, (listen to the amazing "Pure").
Doug Ott's guitar playing is also excellent - he is one of those rare guys who can use the guitar to take the music to a higher emotional level, like Steve Howe or Carlos Santana. He can shred with the best of them, but his playing is also very lyrical - almost like having another lead voice in the band.
The rhythm section (Ed Platt - bass, Sean Flanegan - drums) performance is also exemplary, as is the keyboard performance of Bill Jenkins. Many "progressive rock" bands struggle to fit the keyboards in seamlessly, but Enchant does it better than most.
The real gems here are the instrumental "Progtology", "My Enemy", "Seeds of Hate", "Break", and "Pure". "Pure" should go down as "Best Rock Vocal Performance" for 2004.
If you haven't been introduced to Enchant yet, check out this 2 CD set and you'll also become a huge fan of these very talented musicians.
Submitted by a reviewer (Lakeville, MA, USA) 2/2/2005
Rhythm of Time (2004)
Another Solo Gem From Jordan RudessThe keyboardist extraordinaire from Dream Theater has released another fine disc to follow up "Feeding the Wheel". Jordan has fit in nicely with the DT machine where John Petrucci's guitar is the main instrumental focus, but he gets to really stretch out with this latest solo effort.
Joining him are guitar virtuosos Joe Satriani and Steve Morse as well as Rod Morgenstein on the drums, among others, (including Kip Winger on a couple of tracks). Hats off to Rod for a great job negotiating the difficult rhythm changes and providing the hard driving style he has done for so many years with The Dreggs. All of the styles are here: rock, jazz, progressive, metal, even "new age" with great synth and sampled sounds. The real gem is the 5th track: "Beyond Tomorrow", nearly 10 minutes of a musical voyage that takes the listener on a whirlwind tour of Jordan's amazing talent.
Submitted by a reviewer (Lakeville, MA, USA) 11/19/2004
Live at Budokan (2004)
Another Brilliant Live PerformanceDream Theater continues their passion for live recordings with yet another release (another 3-disc set) that is expertly produced by two band members - Portnoy and Petrucci. This set was recorded live at Budokan in Tokyo and contains almost all of the material off of their latest studio effort, "Train of Thought". For those that remember back to the early '90's when DT actually got some FM airplay, "Pull Me Under" is dusted off and played with exuberance.
There is the usual pyrotechnics of incredible guitar playing and extraordinary drum fills from Petrucci and Portnoy, along with the fantastic keyboard embellishments and exquisite bass playing from Rudess and Myung that we have come to expect and admire from these gifted musicians. How James LaBrie's voice can continue to soar over this instrumental ensemble night after night is anyone's guess.
Just as the playing gets to be almost too much for the senses (listen to the incredible "Instrumedley" pieced together from two Liquid Tension Experiment pieces and you'll see what I mean), they soothe the soul with beautiful versions of "Trial of Tears", "Hollow Years" or "Goodnight Kiss".
This is a hard working group of professionals, and hats off to them for being so prolific, not only with their DT efforts, but also all of their side projects which allows us to hear even more of their music genius in different settings.
"Live at Budokan" is a must not only for DT fans, but for anyone who enjoys progressive music and likes to hear five guys really tear it up...Enjoy!
Submitted by a reviewer (Lakeville, MA, USA) 11/15/2004
||Pain Of Salvation|
Acoustic Pain LiveWith "The Perfect Element" and "Remedy Lane", Pain of Salvation succeeded in vaulting themselves to the upper echelon of Progressive Rock. They blend Dream Theater-like technical prowess with the powerful emotions of Enchant and the vocal talents of "Royal Hunt". What the listener is left with is a magical journey that mixes rock, metal, jazz and blues, in a variety of rhythms and layers upon layers of chords and embellishments.
With 12:5 we have an impressive acoustic live performance of many of the favorites on past studio releases. It is interesting to hear the old pieces that are so powerful as electric compositions being performed acoustically. (Even drummer Johan Langell uses brushes throughout on a scaled down drum kit). Fredrik Hermansson does a fantastic job playing the synth and sampled solos on grand piano. Daniel Gildenlow's voice is superb throughout and the pressure is really on him to carry the pieces through to the end over a much quieter (acoustic) accompaniement from the band than we are accustomed to hearing from POS.
The pieces themselves are difficult arrangements of rhythm changes, key changes, mood changes, alternating major to minor, etc., and they pull this off magnificently in a live setting on acoustic instruments, pretty much bare bones, so to speak. The ensemble playing is nearly flawless - (just listen to the extremely difficult intro to "Idioglossia").
The only reason I can't give this 5 stars is because for me, the acoustic renditions occasionally fall just a little short of the stronger electric performances on the studio albums. A case in point is "Ashes", which is an incredibly haunting minor key tour de force on "The Perfect Element" but is given a much lighter (surprisingly in major key) treatment here.
However, it is remarkable that they pull this acoustic performance off so well and is a must have for all prog. rockers out there.
Submitted by a reviewer (Lakeville, MA, USA) 10/13/2004