Gregory Stuart ‘Greg’ Lake – (November, 10th, 1947 – December , 7th, 2016)
Label: Island Records Release Year: 1972 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Progressive Rock
Keith Emerson – Hammond organ C3/Steinway Piano/Moog Synthesiser III-C/Mini-Moog Model D/Zurna (listed as a “Zoukra”) Greg Lake – Vocals/Bass/Electric and Acoustic Guitars Carl Palmer – Drums/Percussion
The Endless Enigma (Part One) – Keith Emerson, Greg Lake 6:41 Fugue -Keith Emerson 1:56 The Endless Enigma (Part Two) – Keith Emerson,Greg Lake 2:03 From the Beginning – Greg Lake 4:16 The Sheriff -Keith Emerson,Greg Lake 3:22 Hoedown – Aaron Copland (Arrangement). Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer 3:47
Trilogy – Keith Emerson, Greg Lake 8:54 Living Sin -Keith Emerson,Greg Lake, Carl Palmer 3:13 Abaddon’s Bolero – Keith Emerson 8:08
Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer were all well known musicians in their own right long before they created what would be progressive rock’s first ‘Supergroup’ ELP or Emerson Lake and Palmer. ELP or Emerson Lake & Palmer would also become one of progressive rock’s Big 5 joining the ranks of Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Jethro Tull.Keith Emerson would come to the band from The Nice,Greg Lake from King Crimson and Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster by way of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Emerson Lake & Palmer would form in London, UK in 1970. Emerson Lake & Palmer would go on to become RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) with nearly 48 million + albums sold. After forming in early 1970, the band came to prominence following their performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. In their first year, the group signed with Atlantic Records and released Emerson, Lake & Palmer – 1970 and Tarkus -1971, both of which reached the United Kingdom top five. The band’s success continued with Pictures at an Exhibition – 1971. However it was the bands third studio release and fourth album overall Trilogy – 1972 that many believe the band really came into their own as a powerhouse in progressive rock and rock in general. Where most of their contemporaries were totally leveled with the strictest of scrutiny by the progressive rock purists elitist notions, Emerson, Lake & Palmer managed to avoid anything super critical.
Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Trilogy was the band’s fourth album. More surprising it was the third album in 18 months at the time of its release. Trilogy would definitely secure the band on the mountain top of progressive rock and rock in general. Some believe without Trilogy placing the band on the mountain top, that the monumental monterous success of Brain Salad Surgery – 1973 would of not been possible. The Trilogy album and later Brain Salad Surgery would fit the band so firmly on the apex of the mountain where the band were able to place a flag for themselves on the mountain top. So what was it that about Trilogy that allowed the band to be such standard bearer’s within the progressive rock genre? Over the course of this retrospective we will attempt to bring light to this subject.
The musical landscape in progressive rock in 1972 was totally loaded with talent coming out of the United Kingdom. Some even believe 1972 was a ‘Ground Zero Year’ for progressive rock. Among the milestone albums that came out of 1972 from the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe were Yes – Close To The Edge, Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick, Genesis – Foxtrot, Caravan- Waterloo Lily, Gentle Giant – Octopus, Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds, Uriah Heep – Demons And Wizards and Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy. While Brain Salad Surgery – 1973 was their best selling album and saw the band at its peak zenith, it was Trilogy – 1972 that boosted the band to the initial summit where they went from just a ‘Progressive Supergroup’ to a band that transcended the typically cliched ‘Progressive Rock’ banner.
Trilogy is the third studio album by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in July 1972 on Island Records. The cover, designed by Hipgnosis, depicts the band attached at the shoulders, while the interior of the original gate-fold sleeve features a photo montage of the three in Epping Forest. Trilogy increased ELP’s worldwide popularity, and included “Hoedown”, an arrangement of the Aaron Copland composition, which was one of their most popular songs when performing live. We are about to revisit Trilogy on a song by song basis. Without over analyzing the album too much or beating the horse to death we will explore how every composition and song made Trilogy the masterpiece it is.
The Endless Enigma (Part’s I & 2)
A two-part showcase for the com positional and improvisational abilities of Emerson Lake and Palmer, “Endless Enigma” holds so many musical wonders that it’s easy to become consumed with the work of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. Keith Emerson, after all, starts out spooky and dark, then rushes forward into a thunderous outburst while Greg Lake — his vocal instrument at the peak of its powers — moves from sweet reverie to foundation-shaking retorts. And that’s just their co-written Part 1. Keith Emerson then contributes a roughly two-minute fugue that joins the two segments, as “Endless Enigma” comes crashing to a resounding conclusion.
Go back, though, and pay closer attention to Carl Palmer. He’s just as adept at the stick-splintering crashes needed to propel the song to that big finish as he is the song’s angular jazz segments as he is the bass-drum heartbeat that opens “Endless Enigma” — years before the effect became central to albums like Dark Side of the Moon from Pink Floyd and A Passion Play by Jethro Tull. 2112 & Moving Pictures by Rush and areas of both Images & Words and Awake by Dream Theater.
This one is a Classical Music Tour De Force. This comes on beautifully and seamlessly from The Endless Enigma Part 1 and serves as a beautiful classical composition to bridge into The Endless Enigma Part 2. While some people will see this as a filler on the album, some will not. There is a very intended purpose for The Fuge. Keith Emerson does a great job on piano to set The Fuge up to smoothly and seamlessly transition into The Endless Enigma Part 2. You can hear some of The Fuge’s last legacy in Dream Theater’sJordan Rudess, especially on the Dream Theater side project Liquid Tension Experiment 1 & 2 and Feeding The Wheel and The Road Home.
The Endless Enigma Part 2
The band brilliantly composed this in such a way where it was both a continuation form The Endless Enigma Part 1 and seamlessly transitioned off The Fuge. This was handled by Keith Emerson tapping more into the bass chord progressions on keyboards. Then Greg Lake came on board with the bass guitar and Carl Palmer with his multi-dimensional approach to the drums met both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in a more harmonious balance.
From The Beginning
ELP’s formula for successful albums seemed to be a concept covering several songs – a beautiful acoustic number by Greg Lake, and one comedy song per album. For Trilogy,“From the Beginning” was Greg Lake’s beautiful acoustic number that showed his acoustic guitar skills were right up there with his bass talents.
A heartfelt song of devotion, Lake claims that the inspiration for the song has left his memory.
Says Greg Lake:
“Very often lyrics simply come about simply because of the way one feels at a moment in time. There is no earth moving moment of divine inspiration or grand plan and I’m sure that was the case with this song. Although very young at the time I sometimes had moments of reflection and maybe also perhaps a feeling that I could be a better person, I think this was just one of those.”
From The Beginning continues to be a fixture on ‘Classic Rock’ radio to this day. What Lucky Man off the ELP debut in 1970 by putting the band on radio, From The Beginning off Trilogy kept the band in great standing on radio.
In the opening drum solo on the track “The Sheriff”,Carl Palmer accidentally hit the rim of his tom-tom with a drumstick. He responded with the word “shit” which can be heard when listening carefully. “The Sheriff” ends with a honky tonk-type piano solo with Carl Palmer playing woodblocks. Lyrically this was a tribute to the American Old West. The track opens up as if a Mob were after a character. The drums of Carl Palmer simulate the knock of a door very eloquently. Keith Emerson remains very heavy on the Hammond Organ here.
“Hoedown” is a cover of “Hoe-Down” from the Rodeo ballet by Aaron Copland (1942). It became the opening song for both the Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery tours. “Hoedown” is big, brash and showoffy — perfect for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who adapted the piece for their 1972 album Trilogy. It’s the only song on the group’s third album not written by a member of the trio, but they have such fun with it (especially in concert) that it sounds like a natural fit on the LP. In a March, 11th, 2016 article Rolling Stone had this to say about ‘Hoedown’.
March/11/2016 Rolling Stone:
A showstopper that was actually a show starter for two tours, “Hoedown” was the first ELP adaptation of composer Aaron Copland, as brassy a show-off (in his way) as the trio itself. Keith Emerson began work on the piece after returning from a classical festival in Romania, so East European elements find their way into his rollicking organ and Moog arrangement alongside American folk tunes like “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Turkey in the Straw.” Emerson stumbled onto the track’s signature synth sound by chance: “We’d started working on that arrangement and then I hit, I don’t know what, I switched a blue button and I put a patch cord in there, but anyway, ‘whoooeee.'”
In a March, 11th, 2016 article on Ultimate Classic Rock, this is what they had to say –
The nine-minute centerpiece, and title track, to the trio’s highest-charting studio album takes almost three minutes to kick in. The lengthy intro features guitarist / singer Greg Lake getting his classical-music voice on while Emerson pounds away on piano keys. But then a swarm of synths ushers in a typically complicated time signature that eventually gives way to a percussion tour de force by drummer Carl Palmer.
Living Sin is the second song on Trilogy that was written by all three members of the band. Living Sin had a unusual avant garde vibe about it. This track definitely tapped into Greg Lake’s former band and sound in King Crimson, especially with the song 21st Century Schizoid Man. It had a very early proto thrash sensibility about it. Unlike most of the songs on Trilogy that started out and had a steady climatic build in them, Living Sin was a rare song that was to the point make their statement and move forward.
This is a instrumental ‘Tour De Force’.“Abaddon’s Bolero” sounds like a bolero turned into a march (in 4/4 rhythm rather than the usual 3/4). The song was originally titled Bellona’s Bolero after the goddess of war. A single melody containing multiple modulations within itself is repeated over and over in ever more thickly layered arrangements, starting from a quiet Hammond organ making a flute-like sound over a snare drum, and building up to a wall of sound – Maurice Ravel’s famous Boléro uses a similar effect. “Abaddon’s Bolero” is replete with overdubs. Almost every time an instrument comes in, another overdub follows.”. The over abundance of overdubs made the song very hard to perform live and the band only attempted it a few times. Despite the challenges due to multiple overdubs, the instrumental still served a purpose on Trilogy. This was like a soundtrack that would be played at the end of a movie when they roll the credits. This is the more appropriately arranged track to end Trilogy.
I would like to thank Ultimate Classic Rock and Rolling Stone for some of the information used in this article.
Not too many bands can say they got it right with one album let alone two albums. Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery certainly reinforced the notion among fans and critics that Emerson, Lake & Palmer got it right on consecutive releases in the 1970’s. In 2018 I will be back here with a entire 45th Anniversary Retrospective of Brain Salad Surgery. Sadly as the date I prepare this, we have lost two thirds of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Their legacy does live on through Carl Palmer. He has started Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. I am sure at some level we will be talking about Trilogy going forward 45 years from now and its pivotal influence and place in Rock History.
There are many things going on with Forever Twelve’s Home. First of all this is their debut album for Melodic Revolution Records. The second being many many influences within the band’s dynamic happening here. Third of all this proves once again that the staff of Melodic Revolution Records continues to think outside the ‘proverbial box’ to grow their ever growing roster. According to Forever Twelve’s Official Facebook Page :
What others have said: …elements of jazz, folk, rock, fusion, neo-prog, classical and pop all used to serve a musical purpose, express a certain mood or idea …should especially appeal to fans of Marillion, Clepsydra, or Flamborough Head …These original songs show influences by Genesis, Yes, Camel, and Rush, among others
I say there is much more going on in all three areas of how the band sound, what fans would listen to this band and the influences of the band. Forever Twelve are a return to progressive rock in its purist form. This band takes it back where people trashed the three minute single for a song that was the length of a entire 22 1/2 minutes on vinyl. A time when people preferred the 4-8 panel gatefold and appreciated all the art in its purist form. It takes us back to the time when keyboards began to be celebrated instead of tolerated. It takes us back to the time when Billy Ritchie of 1-2-3/Clouds fame, basically gave birth to the progressive rock genre and influenced a few guys, one would be a guy named Keith Emerson, another would be Robert Fripp and another few guys by the name of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman.Yes literally that Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson.
.When I listen to Forever Twelve’s Home I am reminded of the early period of progressive rock that allowed people both an escape through the melodious labyrinth’s of multiple time signatures and chord progressions and unique rhythmic changes and further intellectual nurturing through its dreamscapes due to its lyrical content and concepts. Forever Twelve also seem to embrace this earlier period of progressive rock along with the later periods of Supertramp and neo progressive periods of the 1980’s.
Forever Twelve’s dedication to the craft is very reminiscent to 1-2-3/Clouds, Yes, Caravan. Eloy, Genesis, Lindisfarne,Fairport Convention, Strawbs and Eclection on the earlier end. On the more current and modern end elements of Marillion, Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, Enchant and The Samurai Of Prog come to mind. The band has a very uncanny ability to take all those earlier influences and bands and create their own distinct sound without it appearing to be dated, imitated or duplicated. They also do this without watering anything down as well.
Throughout the duration of the seven songs on Forever Twelve’s Home the band certainly manages to stay true to the very core values that have come to define progressive rock as a genre to some and a lifestyle to others. Throughout the remainder of this review I will be pointing out the various influences that shine through from every song that makes up Forever Twelve’s Home.
The Seven Seas opens up from the first note with the fullness of the band. You have a very deep rhythm section serving as the anchor. Meanwhile in harmony to the deep rhythm section you have the fullness of the stringed section serving as a rudder in which to steer the track in its various time signatures and chord progressions. The band manages to balance all of this where it is not overwhelming as to invite the listener in with ease. Along with such beautiful harmonic balance between the instruments, you have the angelic voice of John Baker. The vocal reminds me of all the best parts of Jon Anderson of Yes meets Rodger Hodgson of Supertramp going on within John Baker.
There also seems to be subtle elements of jazz in the tradition of the late Alan Holdsworth going on underneath the fullness of the arrangement. Although more of a neo progressive style, I would be remiss in saying that this contains some heavy prog elements in melody with the neo progressive nature.This track is also as much guitar driven as it is keyboards in the stringed section. The deep bass/drum rhythm section in harmony with the deep keyboard portions provide a very heavy prog melody throughout the track.
Home begins with a drum along with the bass serving more and a percussive instrument within the rhythmic section. From there the guitar shines through to allow the fullness of the bands instrumental to breathe. After all this beautiful open melody the track drops and breaks and allows for the warmth in the vocals to enter with the instrumental to achieve a full harmony. Also after the break and vocal the track takes a more atmospheric nature with the steady flow on keyboards while the rhythm section serves as a backbone to the vocals. The track also includes intricate time signatures and chord progressions more in the tradition of Knight Area meets Cairo. This track has some more emphasis on vocal harmonies as well that add more depth to the song in general.
Daisy Chain is the band’s first single off Home. This track maintains the jazz style integrity that seems to be a unsung hero to the album. While the deep rhythm sections and atmospheric elements with the keyboards serve as ground zero for the album, the jazz elements really trigger the time signatures as much as the progressive elements. The band have a very keen sense on when to employ a jazz based time signature and a progressive time signature. Daisy Chain is a prime example of this.The song takes a break midway through with a semi solo that allows the various instruments to execute more intricate chord progressions. This track is also very loaded with classic progressive rock elements much like ELP meets Yes. The band really draw from many parts of the progressive rock spectrum and this song is a perfect example of it.
Kansas By The Sea is one of the more experimental and atmospheric songs the band has offered up on Home. It opens with a beautiful effect of a ocean wave washing up against the shoreline. This happens in melody and harmony with a piano. The ocean effect with the piano give the track a conceptual feel about it. This is a track that could open up introductions to newer fans going forward. The guitar and bass lines also give the appearance of two different instrumental characters within the song. Lyrically this is both a retrospective track and one of optimism equally. The song also has a very robust chorus working for it among its experimental nature. This song has periodic breaks to set up the next part of the desired story of the band. Towards the end the song takes on a very heavy prog King Crimson style in the tradition of 21st Century Schizoid Man.
Karmageddon starts out with various effects of the city before going into a very guitar and bass driven chord progression. This is the heaviest song on Home. The bass and guitar really send the mind and emotions of the listener on a immediate roller coaster ride. It soon drops a bit and a very balanced vocal comes into play. From there the track takes on a more methodical purpose. Every riff, every portion of the instrumental has a definite purpose and does not serve as just any old filler for the song. The drums really send this song into rhythmic areas that are very unorthodox. The band shows its full time signature and chord progression prowess on this song. All of this really makes the song a very unique offering to the album. The keyboards are more in the Hammond Organ tradition.
Acoustic Rose is just that a rose. It opens up with a beautiful acoustic guitar and keyboard atmosphere that allows the listener to settle in and start to really digest the entire album. This is just as strong with the lyrical and vocal harmonies as it is with the instrumental melodies. The deep rhythm section lays back a bit for the more guitar and keyboard driven atmospheres to shine through. The vocal harmonies have a very folk Crosby,Stills, Nash & Young vibe working about them as well. This seamlessly transitions into the next song Fate Is In Our Hands.
Fate Is In Our Hands is the seventh and final song on Home. This transitions seamlessly off the prior song Acoustic Rose. This opens up like a old school gritty blues based guitar chord progression. The added crackle of vinyleffect is very rare in the era of digital media. The listener can easily notice that the band is paying homage to the essential roots that made progressive rock not only a genre but a lifestyle. This has both a heavy Pink Floyd meets King Crimson atmosphere. The band does a great job playing a summary of elements on here that really tie all the album together as a cohesive unit. This one is also heavy King Crimson induced throughout the entire track.
After listen to this I come to the conclusion that Melodic Revolution Records has another great signing on its hands. I would encourage the band to tour with this. I believe a live experience of these songs and this album in particular would be a real treat to fans both old and new to Forever Twelve. This is a band that could easily qualify for a Cal Prog, ROSFest even Prog/Power USA & Prog/Power Europe. I give Forever Twelve’s Home a 5/5 .
Label: Independent/Unsigned Release Year: 2017 Country: USA Genre: Progressive/Atmospheric/Melodic/Blackened/Death Metal
Matthew Cerami – Vocals/Guitars/Bass Jordan Navarro – Guitars/Drum Programming/Keyboards/Additional Sounds Jordan Navarro And Nick Shann – Drum Programming/Arrangements
Nick Shann – Guitar Solo & Stringed Arrangememnts on ‘The Long Road Home’ Violin on ‘My Father, My God Benjamin Ian Meyerson (Fin Amor) & Justin Barone (Consonance) – Additional Lyrics & Vocal Arrangements Samantha Marie Rae (Nectar) – Guest Vocals Charles Buonsera – Bass Solo on ‘Evisecrate Divine’ Ben Xenoyr (Ne Obliviscaris) – Logo & Album Artwork Nick Shann – Recorded/Mixed & Mastered
I do not know if it is the ‘Prog Metal Purist’ in me or if it is a more open mind but I find the older I get the heavier and more brutal I can accept some forms of metal. Progressive Melodic Death Metal is one of those fractured sub genres. If you would of told me 20 years ago I would fully embrace death growls or black metal screams in the confines of progressive metal I would called you a total fool and joke. Of course I have been into death metal like DEATH, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Cynic even UK’s own Ackercocke. However when it came to progressive metal I did not bat an eye until I discovered Opeth’s Still Life album and witnessed just how beautifully they took the extreme metal/death metal element and made another force in metal’s longevity in rock n roll.
From that point on my objectivity began to grow and my cynicism began to diminish concerning Extreme/Progressive/Atmospheric/Symphonic/Death & Black Metal. I discovered bands like Agalloch, Lamentation Of The Ashen, Summoning on the Black Metal side. On the more Death Metal side I continued to collect Opeth, Between The Buried And Me, Grey Skies Fallen, etc … Soon I would discover what has been branded as ‘Beauty & Beast’ metal where the female soprano is front and center along with the masculine and brutal extreme vocals by the usually the male counterpart with bands such as After Forever, Epica, Tristania, Revamp, etc .. It seems like the older I get the more I am embracing more ‘Extreme’ Metal’.
The above mentioned bands are basically first generation bands. After 30+ years of Extreme Metalit appears there is no sign it is going to wane nor vanish anytime soon. Bands like Iapetus out of New York almost guarantee the certainty that Extreme/Progressive/Atmospheric/Symphonic/Death & Black Metal will continue to grow a evolve with great strength as the years continue. Iapetus’ The Long Road Home has everyone of those elements present within the general construct of the entire album. Iapetus are definitely on the front line as front-runners of the next generation of this style and genre of progressive metal music.
On the surface at first full listen it appears the band have created a concept album. In many ways on the instrumental side they have. On the lyrical side it runs more of a common conceptual theme of science fiction more so than a full conceptual story having a beginning and a end. Throughout the rest of this review I will point out the Extreme highlights, Progressive highlights, Atmospheric highlights, Symphonic, highlightsand Death & Black metal highlights with a track to track analysis.
Nomads begins with a very heavily synthesized effects and a almost spoken word effect laden inside the those synth effects. The spoken word effects either sound like a newscast or something from ground control in Houston Texas. It simulates the beginning of a migration towards the cosmos. Like every track on the duration of the album, Nomads bleeds and transitions seamlessly into … Of Hangmen & Vertebrae.
… Of Hangmen & Vertebrae picks right up as Nomads is coming to a close. The transition is beautifully and tastefully done. Nick Shann certainly knows what to do with the compositions of the band as far as recording and mixing. This begins with a thick and heavy atmospheric progression before going into a semi low-fi black metal style guitar riff. That riff is soon met by a more progressive thrash riff with a lead solo in harmony with the low-fi rhythmic chord progression. This track blisters in and out of various chord progression and various time signatures including heavy atmospheric section towards the end of the track. The atmospheric sections do a great job melodiously articulating a space or a cosmos atmosphere. This track transitions very fluidly into the next track Lachrymae Rerum with another spoken word section that serves as a introduction to Lachrymae Rerum.
Lachrymae Rerum this one explodes into nothing short of a serious death metal assault on the senses that is further compounded by some very aggressive death growls with a blackened crust just on the surface. The instrumental portion remains heavily progressive based and does not deviate much from its progressive aesthetic. Instead of placing the entire track in the center of the head the band have a very uncanny ability to hit both the right and left channels in the listening experience where the entire composition envelops the senses. This is a song on the album that perfectly introduces the ‘Metal Purist’ to a more progressive leaning style. Among the vicious blackened death growls there are some spoken word elements to articulate some of the story. About the 4:10 mark the track takes a break from the assault and lures the listener further in with a very beautiful atmospheric passage eloquently done by the acoustic guitar. Think Opeth The Moor from Still Life or even Serenity Painted Deaththat is what I am reminded of with this song. Once again towards the end the song carries the album towards a interstellar space atmospheric passage where it bleeds and transitions seamlessly into the following track I Sing Of Satellites.
I Sing Of Satellites transitions perfectly off of Lachrymae Rerum with a gentle acoustic guitar passage created a heavy atmospheric passage. This serves like a intro into Savior Solitude where the track transitions seamlessly into the beautiful beginning of Savior Solitude.
Savior Solitude starts off beautifully with a warm, yet open double acoustic guitar passage that allows the listener to be brought into the track further. Then the senses are once again assaulted with the low-fi black metal style of vocal along with a blackened death metal vocal. All the progressive death metal frenzy is met by a very warm and inviting female vocal done very well by Samantha Marie Rae of Nectar. Samantha Marie Rae is a real wild card and dark horse on the album that adds depth to a already deep contented album. This is a very progressive track going in and out from various time signatures and chord progressions that are very obvious. The chord progressions are in the tradition of Periphery, Between The Buried And Me, Textures even Alkoloid. Once again the song transitions seamlessly into the following song My Father, My God.
My Father, My God transitions seamlessly with perfect continuity from Savior Solitude. This is once again accomplished by beautiful acoustic guitar passages that seem to be part of the root backbone to the album. It is not long before the track takes on a more metal direction. This is also the first of two 15+ minute epics on the album. The heavy guitar passages go on for a bit in progressive fashion to set up other parts of the composition. After a thunderous opening the song drops into a very easy acoustic passage adding layers upon the atmospheric side of the album. The acoustical atmospheres are very appropriate for the progressive element to the track. They allow the listener in to experience a auditory journey even with the more extreme elements that are within the composition. The metal half of this track moves the band in a much more European flavored of metal represented in the composition.
The band uses a very unorthodox method to take the low-fi black metal style riff and layer it as if it were a symphonic piece in the composition. At the same time it is a very atmospheric riff as well. The vocals are very blackened melodic death metal in nature. There are spoken word elements to give the senses a reprieve from the guttural assault. The spoken word elements come from both the feminine and masculine perspective. That is something rare in this style and genre of music. Elements like that will invite a female fan base eventually that will help in the growth of the band. My Father, My God transitions quietly into the following track Crown of Stars.
Crown Of Stars begins with a beautifully done acoustic guitar to keep the listener consumed within the album in its entirety. Here the band confirms that its more progressive elements have roots in the 1970’s more so than any other decade. After the lush acoustic guitar opener the band goes into a more symphonic route with various vocal chants running in harmony with solid guitar riffs before the track drops again to a more atmospheric side. By now the band has pulled many elements out for the listener to feast on. By now they are putting them all together with beauty and ease.This serves as a intro to the next track that seamlessly transitions into the following track Eviscerate Divine.
Eviscerate Divine transitions beautifully from Crown of Stars. The band opens it up with their elegant acoustical chord progression before the all out death metal assault hits you with a wall of sound. This track continue to see the band explore all the extreme/death/black/symphonic/atmospheric and progressive boundaries into uncharted waters. The band are certainly very experimental and never afraid to take chances. This track is another validation of all that. They are also not afraid to show the more mature progressive side with very atmospheric acoustic and semi acoustical guitar passages. The layers upon layers they utilize within all the guitar work shows that they not only record but understand the craft it itself. There guitar work spans from 1970’s progressive rock, to late 1970’s to early 1980’s NWOBHM galloping guitars to the low-fi black metal aesthetic we have heard for the last 30 years in the tradition of Hellhammer or a Mayhem. This transitions very atmospherically into the final song The Long Road Home.
The Long Road Home begins with the trademark beautiful lush acoustic guitar passage. These passages are very welcomed when you get them. Oddly the acoustical passages really allow for the progressive elements to shine throughout the album including the last song on it here. This is another epic at 15+ minutes in length. From the beautiful lush acoustical passage comes a very NWOBHM oriented guitar passage with galloping riffs that move the song forward. This song goes in and out from the heavy to the not so heavy passages. In like minded progressive form the instrumental portions are a lot longer. The journey is a beautiful thing with the objective listener. The guitar work is still rooted within a 1970’s element, yet with very modern elements as well. Matthew Cerami, Jordan Navarro and Nick Shann must of had some killer brainstorms as far as the actual recording and mixing. They definitely have a winning infrastructure in play as far as Iapetus as a project is concerned. The Long Road Home really brings all the elements together the band used throughout the album.
I honestly came into this album expecting nothing and getting a lot more than I could ever expect in my own imagination. Iapetus The Long Road Home is definitely on the front-line in the next evolutionary step into the Extreme/Atmospheric/Death/Blackened/Progressive Metal. When we look back on 2017 this will be one of the albums I can say opened more doors into the possibilities of what progressive metal can do and be. I am definitely a believer in the project. I would like to see them create a full band out of this and tour this if possible. The world deserves to hear and Iapetus deserves to be heard. I give Iapetus The Long Road Home a solid 5/5.
Dream Theater | Images And Words 25th Anniversary Retrospective
Label: ACTO Records Release Year: 1992 Country: USA/Canada Genre: Progressive Metal
Band Members – Iamges And Words Lineup
James Labrie – Vocals John Myung – Bass John Petrucci – Guitars Mike Portnoy – Drums Kevin Moore – Keyboards
Pull Me Under – Kevin Moore 8:14 Another Day – John Petrucci 4:23 Take the Time – Dream Theater 8:21 Surrounded – Kevin Moore 5:30 Metropolis—Part I: ‘The Miracle and the Sleeper – John Petrucci 9:32 Under a Glass Moon – John Petrucci 7:03 Wait for Sleep – Kevin Moore 2:31 Learning to Live – John Myung 11:30
The year 2017 sees Dream Theater celebrate the 25 th Anniversary of their ICONIC sophomore album, and the album that is credited for saving the entire progressive rock and metal genres from extinction Images And Words. The band are even doing an entire world tour to celebrate this monumental milestone in recorded music history. To many they looked upon this release as nothing short of a ‘Miracle’.
What Was Happening In 1992 ?
The conditions for a successful metal band were very grim in 1992 to say the least. In America the nation music station MTV had all but abandoned the heavy metal genre in a nutshell. They would trade heavy metal in for bands out of Seattle Washington like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Tad, Green River and bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins on the Grunge Rock side. They would also cater to more of the Hip Hop R&B with bands like Cypress Hill, Boys 2 Men, etc …
Exceptions to this were bands like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, White Zombie, Corrosion of Conformity, Pantera, a new upstart band TOOL and Dream Theater. You had Dallas’ Z-Rock nationally syndicate a full 24/7 metal format both on AM & FM stations throughout the United States and Canada and KNAC from Los Angeles attempt to nationally syndicate a full heavy metal format nationally as well. Another thing you would of thought was working against a band like Dream Theater was the fact that in North America progressive rock music had seem almost entirely dead since the late 1970’s.
As a matter of fact Prog Rock became the PORN of rock in a way that most prog purists in North America were at one point ashamed of purchasing progressive rock albums in the shops at the time. Both progressive rock and metal bands had been relegating basically from stadiums and arenas to small theaters and night clubs. However in what seemed like the ‘Perfect Storm’ working against the band, Dream Theater not only thrived in this atmosphere but flourished.
Images And Words – The History
After a lack luster reception 3 years earlier with their When Day And Dream Unite, Dream Theater knew there would have to be a change. Little did they know it was going to be a change at the Lead Vocalist position.
After Charlie Dominici’s departure from Dream Theater, the band auditioned nearly 200 people across the nation including former Fates Warning vocalist John Arch, before James LaBrie, then of the Canadian glam metal band Winter Rose, sent the band an audition tape. After a short jam session, he was named Dream Theater’s new lead singer, and remained so ever since.
With James LaBrie on board, the band was signed to a seven-album contract by ATCO Records, which by the way also signed Pantera, and shortly after began recording their new album in late 1991. The lead single, “Pull Me Under”, gained the band considerable commercial success with its airplay on MTV and radio, garnering them a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. When the album was released, it sold at a steady pace, helped by an extensive world tour.
Dream Theater originally intended to release a double album, but this was rejected by ATCO, causing several songs to be omitted from the album. One of these songs, “A Change of Seasons”, would later be re-recorded by the band and released on an EP of the same name in 1995.
The song “Take the Time” includes samples from Kurtis Blow’s “Christmas Rappin'” (“Hold it now”), Frank Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool” (“Wait a minute”), and Public Enemy’s “Power to the People”, (“Come on”). James LaBrie had appeared as a guest vocalist on Fates Warning’s 1991 album Parallels, for which the band was credited as “Dream Theatre” in the “special thanks” of the album’s credits. Dream Theater responded by thanking “Fatez Warning”in the credits of Images and Words.
Images and Words was played in its entirety on several occasions during the European leg of the 2007 “Chaos in Motion”tour, in celebration of its 15th anniversary. On July 7, 2012, at a concert in Austin, Texas, the songs “Pull Me Under”, “Another Day”, and “Metropolis” were performed as an encore to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary. Additionally, “Surrounded” was performed during the main set.
In 1993 Dream Theater Live At The Marquee would include 3 songs from Images And Words those include Metropolis Pt 1 – ‘The Miracle And The Sleeper’ , Another Day and Pull Me Under.
In 1998 Dream Theater’s Once In A Livetime live album would feature ‘Take The Time’, Pull Me Under’, Metropolis Pt 1 – ‘The Miracle And The Sleeper’and ‘Learning To Live’ from Images And Words.
In 1999 , due to the insane popularity of ‘Metropolis Pt 1 – The Miracle And The Sleeper’,Dream Theater would release a entire and ambitious concept album inspired by Metropolis Pt 1 – The Miracle And The Sleeper affectionately titled ‘Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes From A Memory’.
In 2000, Dream Theater would go on to play the entire Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes From A Memory in New York’s Starland Ballroom. This would be filmed for the band’s first ever DVD concert titled Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes From New York. A special reworked edition to Metropolis Pt 1 – The Miracle And The Sleeper would be featured and called Metropolis 2000 – The Miracle And The Sleeperalong with Learning To Live.
In 2008 , as a tongue and cheek humorous gesture towards the moderately successful ‘Pull Me Under’, Dream Theater would release Greatest Hit (…And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) . Then-drummer Mike Portnoy explained in the album’s booklet that the selection of songs were carefully made in order to appease both the newcomer and the already existing fan by offering up different versions of songs on other albums to “make the newcomer want to buy the albums from whence they came”and to “give different versions of songs already on other albums”to the current fan. He also suggests that a third disc should’ve been included called “The Epic Side”.
In 2013, the album was reissued on vinyl as a limited edition 180 gr. double LP.
In 2017, Dream Theater celebrated the 25th anniversary of Images And Words on the “Images, Words & Beyond”tour in Europe, starting on January 30 at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome, Italy.
The Album Cover
In a March 2015 interview with Teamrock’s Prog branch, artist Larry Freemantle sat down and answered a few question concerning the iconic cover to Images And Words. The following information is courtesy of Prog @ Teamrock.
Prog@Teamrock : How did you get involved in the project?
“At the time they were with Elektra, and at that time they didn’t really have an art department. I was with Atlantic and was assigned it like any other project. They had some company they were somehow connected with called Access Images. It was a pre-computer graphics time, and everyone was just getting into computer work. Access Images was one of those companies that did that sort of stuff, before Photoshop became huge. And they had a few people that worked there, so I sort of oversaw that project.”
Prog@Teamrock : How did you come up with the idea?
Larry Freemantle “The concept of what was on that cover came from the band. I tried to make it look compositionally like an old painting from a design point of view. I remember I met with the band and we sat down and went through everything. They were very hands on in the early days. John Myung was probably the key person I met along with John Petrucci. Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy were also very much involved too. They were very specific about what should be where on the sleeve. It was just a matter of trying to piece it together. So they wanted a little girl, they wanted the bird flying and that style of room. It was a collage of engravings and illustrations which I thought was pretty cool. The engravings and the room were from old engravings book that we spliced together, and the sky was worked into it too. As for the font, I had that created and hired a calligrapher, John Stevens, as I wanted it to be personalised and to look like a type font.”
Prog@Teamrock: Stylistically, it’s reminiscent of some of the 70s album sleeves. Is that something that you were conscious of? Larry Freemantle “Those guys and myself were huge Hipgnosis fans and that it’s pretty obvious. And in fact, later on they actually used Storm Thorgerson to do some the art for their Falling Into Infinity album. I’m a big fan of how that stuff was done pre-computer. The sleeve is a little dated now, simply because you can see how well things are done today. So I look back and think that I could have done it in so many different ways. Those Hipgnosis phenomenal sleeves are beautiful and haven’t dated, and I suppose Images And Words holds up to some degree. I like the fact that it is a collage rather than, say, it being all photographic.”
Prog@Teamrock Who was the girl who features on the cover? Larry Freemantle “The girl was somebody that the photographer, Dan Muro, chose and I think he just cast someone for that. It wasn’t anybody specific for the band. I remember that the flaming heart logo was physically created, and they made a model of it and then photographed it.”
Prog@Teamrock How were the band to work with? Larry Freemantle “The guys were down to earth and from Long Island, where I’m from, and we were the same age. They were easy going and it’s always easier to work with a new band than someone who has been around for a long time. In the beginning they were so happy just to be doing some of the stuff we were doing, and it wasn’t a big budget job. They were a very serious and professional band right from the start. A lot of bands are like the deer in the headlights when it comes to ideas so their attitude was quite unusual. They were always great when they came to the table as they always had ideas.”
A Breakdown Of Reason – A Track By Track Analysis Of Dream Thetaer’s Images & Words
Pull Me Under
Pull Me Under was the first song and first single off Images And Words. Pull Me Under is by far the band’s most well-known song. Originally titled “Oliver’s Twist” in instrumental form, the song was added to the album late, replacing Don’t Look Past Me. The song catching on in the mainstream surprised the band, as they had written Another Day in hopes of it being a hit single, due to its softer, more melodic nature. According to Mike Portnoy, Pull Me Under’s success is proof that “the fans like balls and chunk”.
Pull Me Under peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 200, skyrocketing the popularity of the album. A video was shot from it using stock footage of the band performing along with conceptual footage. The conceptual footage has nothing to do with the song and was created without any input from the band. The character in the video is referred to as both a vampire and a werewolf by members of the band, who admit they don’t understand what the video is about or what its relation to Pull Me Under is.
The song’s success led to Images and Words going Gold in 1995, and it has become the band’s anthem, though they admit they are sick of playing it. The compilation album Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)’s name refers to Pull Me Under as the band’s only major mainstream hit. The song was included as an unlockable song in the game Guitar Hero: World Tour as the song the player plays during the credits, and then as a part of an unlocked set taking place in “Valhalla”. It does not include the abrupt ending with the “would melt” lyric in this game.
This would be the second song from Images And Words and the second song released as a single for radio play consideration. John Petrucci wrote Another Day about his father, John Petrucci Sr. who was diagnosed with cancer. John Petrucci Sr. would be the subject of another Dream Theater song, Take Away My Pain from Falling Into Infinity following his death. The video for Another Day follows the song’s lyrics, with a father and son spending time together. MRI scans are visible in the background, tying in to the cancer theme.
Another Day is a melodious ballad with pop sensibilities. The song was written to be accessible, and was presented with radio, single and video releases. Another Day does build up to a crescendo, though it never becomes heavy, instead going into a soprano sax solo by Jay Beckenstein from Spyro Gyra. Jay Beckenstein also owned the studio that Images And Words was recorded in. Though Another Day was written to be accessible and a possible hit, it was surpassed surprisingly by Pull Me Under which became the band’s biggest hit.
Despite a single and video, the song never caught on in the mainstream, the video not being used by MTV and the EP release being considered the rarest commercial release by Dream Theater, often fetching large prices on eBay. The video features the young girl who was the model for the cover of Images and Words.
Take The Time
Take the Time is a song by Dream Theater. It is the third song from their second album, Images and Words. Take the Time is the third radio single release from the album and its second video release.
Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy said of this song:
“We decided to write a song about everything we’d been going through for the past 3 years – looking for a new singer, a new label and new management – just all the changes we made and all the frustrations we went through, but have it coming from each of our 4 different perspectives. So, we broke it up, and said, ‘Okay, you take the first verse, you take the second verse,’ went away, wrote lyrics about our feelings about all the stuff we were going through, and then put it together. Then we wrote the chorus together. That was the first time we had ever done that, and it’s the only song on the album where the lyrics were actually written by everybody.”
A video was shot for Take the Time and a radio-edit was released, though neither were used. The video is for the most part a performance video with some mild conceptual elements.
The sampled voice saying “Ora che ho perso la vista, ci vedo di piu”used during the song is from the film “Cinema Paradisio”.The voice saying “Wait a minute...” is sampled from the ending of Frank Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool”,“Hold up!”is sampled from “Christmas Rapping” by Kurtis Blow, and “Come On!” comes from “Power to the People” by Public Enemy.
Take the Time was originally known as “Grab That Feel”.
Surrounded is one of Dream Theater’s more abstract songs. The exact meaning of the lyrics has eluded fans since its release. The song at one time was dedicated to Arthur Ashe, a tennis player who died of AIDS. The general tone of the lyrics is spiritual, though no literal meaning can be ascertained.
Compared to many of the songs on Images and Words, performances of Surroundedhave been rare. Dream Theater performed the the song very scarcely, though it has recently seen a rise in popularity. The reason the band hasn’t played it often may be because it is a “Kevin Moore song”though they routinely play other songs he has penned such as Pull me Under. Live performances of the song may vary wildly from the album version, often with extended lengths and atmospheric solos.
On occasion, alternate live versions have heavily quoted the song “Sugar Mice” by Marillion, to the point of James LaBrie even singing some of the lyrics from that song, as well as quoting the guitar solo from the song “Mother” by Pink Floyd. Jordan Rudess is also known to play keytar during live performances of Surrounded. During the Chaos In Motion 2007-2008 tour,
Dream Theater performed an extended version running at 15 minutes.
Of course like most music in relation to people’s individual personalities and moods, the exact meaning of the song could fracture into many different impressions upon the general audience.
Metropolis, Pt. 1 – The Miracle and the Sleeper
Metropolis, also known as Metropolis, Pt 1 – “The Miracle and the Sleeper” or simply Metropolis Pt 1 is a song by Dream Theater. It is the fifth song from their second album, Images and Words. Metropolis is one of the band’s most beloved and popular songs, despite never being a single. The concepts from Metropolis eventually led to the release of Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes from a Memory in 1999.
The lyrics to Metropolis have been the source of much debate and analysis with Dream Theater fans, with the band themselves being evasive regarding its exact meaning. A popular theory is that it is about the founding of Rome (Metropolis) by two brothers (Romulus and Remus); however, it is an unofficial explanation. The release of Scenes from a Memory,surprisingly enough, complicated matters, with the album continuing some themes (both lyrical and musical) from the song, but having a much more literal story that did not seem to definitively explain the original.
Metropolis is a very progressive and varied song and is one of the heavier songs on Images and Words. The song is most known for its extended instrumental section, which was some of the most difficult and complex music the band had written and performed at that time. As with many progressive songs, the song has multiple sections and changes.
The “Pt 1” in the title was originally added by John Petrucci as a joke, as no sequel was ever intended. However as fans demands began to increase, and the popularity of the song eventually led to a second song being written. That second song was originally conceived as a 20 minute epic originally intended to be on Falling Into Infinity; however, it was cut from the album at an early state, before the song was completed. Lyrics for Metropolis Pt 2 were never written and the only recording of the whole song is a rough rehearsal. However, various sections of the song were worked into Scenes from a Memory, most notably the entirety of Overture 1928, and most of One Last Time.
Metropolis was also known as “Crumbling Metropolis” early on.
The song was originally written when Charlie Dominici was in the band, and was played live at every show in 1989, although this version had a different intro and a slightly shorter outro.
Under A Glass Moon
Under a Glass Moon is a song by Dream Theater. It is the sixth song on their second album, Images and Words. Despite never being released as a single, Under a Glass Moon is one of the band’s more popular songs especially in live sets. It was written by John Petrucci.
This song was the most obvious Easter Egg on the album cover itself.
Under a Glass Moon is one of the heavier songs on Images and Words, known for its signature opening and crunching riff. The song is mid-tempo, and contains one of John Petrucci’s more famous guitar solos.
In a testament to the strange titles Dream Theater songs can have before lyrics are written for them, Under a Glass Moon was originally known as “The Battle of Jimmy Cocoa and Fish-Face”.
Wait For Sleep
Wait for Sleep is a song by Dream Theater. It is the seventh song off their second album, Images and Words. The song is notable for being one of only two songs penned completely by Kevin Moore, the other being Space-Dye Vest from Awake 1994.
The song is said to be about a friend of Kevin Moore’s who he claimed had “a spiritual void” who struggled with her beliefs regarding the death of a friend
Along with Space-Dye Vest, Wait for Sleep is one of only two songs penned completely by Kevin Moore. The song features no drums, guitar or bass, though live performances occasionally use a full-band arrangement.
The song, much like Only a Matter of Time before it, lent a lyric to the title, the line “Where images and words are running deep” is the source of the album’s title.
Performances of Wait for Sleep are somewhat rare, especially since Kevin Moore’s departure from Dream Theater. The band rarely plays the song as it is on the album, usually instead opting for a full band arrangement that fans usually refer to as the acoustic version, due to John Petrucci’s use of acoustic guitar. Some versions, particularly early ones have been known to have been extended in length, usually due to an elaborate intro from Kevin Moore.
Learning To Live
Learning to Live is a song by Dream Theater. It is the 8th and final song off the band’s second album, Images and Words. It is also the longest song on Images And Words.
Through Learning to Live is heavily metaphorical, some sense can be made of it. The song is said to be about the AIDS crisis, which in 1992 was quite prevalent. The opening line “He had no time for pain, no energy for anger” is said to be borrowed from the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, said to be an influence on John Myung.
Learning to Live is the longest and most progressive song on Images and Words and is the band’s first officially released song to go beyond ten minutes long. The song reprises the piano theme from Wait for Sleep, making the songs somewhat of a pair.
Live performances of Learning to Live are quite common, and even when the band does not play the entire song, it is a common element in medleys
It should be noted that Change Of Season’s was suppose to be on Images And Words. When the band released its Images And Words Demos 1989-1991on the installment of Official Bootlegs in 2005, the original instrumental demo was included. The band would release Change of Seasons in 1995 as a EP with various other live performances. Images And Words also is a real rarity in that it was one of the few progressive rock or metal albums to avoid the second album or ‘sophomore jinx’. Images And Words was like a rebirth for Dream Theater in both lineup and sound for the band. Images and Words was a moderate commercial hit, reaching number 61 on the US Billboard 200 chart. It is also Dream Theater’s only album to be certified gold by the RIAA, and remains their best-selling album to date, selling more than six hundred thousand copies. It is still the bands bestselling album to date.
For the last 20+ years TEN have been one of the most ‘criminally under rated’ sometimes brutally overlooked bands within progressive melodic metal communities and even the AOR community. This band first entered my radar with 2000’sSpellbound and 2001’s Far Beyond The World. All I could fixate my interest on was the beautifully eloquent yet very versatile lead vocals of Gary Hughes. Both Spellbound & Far Beyond The World made me a instant fan of any work related to Gary Hughes. A little later on I would come across a very well written and produced Rock/Metal Opera created by Gary Hughes titled One And Future King Parts 1 & 2.From that point on I was totally sold as a fan of Gary Hughes.
It seems TEN has been a very white hot band within the last five years. First they would release both the critical and fan approved Albion in 2014, Isla De Muerta 2015 and The Dragon And St. George EP in 2015. Now in 2017 the band makes yet another triumphant return with their heaviest and darkest album since The Twilight Chronicles and The Robe that album being Gothica. This also marks TEN’s triumphant return to Frontiers Records srl.
In TEN Gary Hughes has managed to successfully surround himself with a lot of the top melodic metal/rock, AOR talent in the world. Joining Gary Hughes is Dann Rosingana – Lead Guitars , Steve Grocott – Lead Guitars , John Halliwell – Rhythm Guitars , Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards , Steve McKenna – Bass , Max Yates – Drums. This lineup here manages to keep TEN well balanced between its main elements of progressive metal, melodic metal, hard rock, AOR. These lineup also has been proven one of the most consistent lineups serving the needs of the band while satisfying a global fan base that seems to grow more and more with every album and tour.
TEN’s Gothica is a darker more seductive album lyrically. This is matched in harmony to many of the darker heavier instrumental portions that accompany the lyrical content from track to track. TEN also put the ‘Adult’ inside of AOR or Adult Oriented Rockwith their lyrical content that is so racy and laden with sensual innuendo’s. I am shocked they have not had a Parental Advisory label placed on the front of their albums. TEN also have had the uncanny ability to match their album cover art with the melodic content that lies within each album. Now I am will point out some highlights from every track.
The Grail starts out with the lead vocal serving in the capacity of a chant. Soon the twin lead guitar riffs along with the keyboards open the track up with a wonderful wall of sound. The guitars take this track in many different chord progressions and time signatures. The riffs carry the track with the big bass/drum rhythm section. Gary Hughes gives the listener the appearance he is singing with a isolated vocal in harmony with the instrumental portion of the track. One of the unsung heroes to this particular track is Steve McKenna – Bass & Max Yates – Drums giving the track a lot of teeth and bite where the rhythm guitar and the twin lead guitar’s can take root on this melodious canvas. About the 4:40 mark the drums really anchor another isolated lead vocal section to allow the lyrical content of the story to come through smoothly. Their is a spiritual element in the lyrical content. Darrel Teece Birch – Keyboards actually incorporates a beautiful grand piano sound to the track. The Grail is the epic of the album clocking in at 8:03
Jekyll And Hyde is obviously a story of two personalities within one person. This starts out with the sound of someone walking the brick streets before being engulfed in a strong unified rhythm section between all instruments involved. The lead guitar bleeds through from time to time to add accent to the heavily induced rhythm section. The lyrical content is seriously dark much like the title of track itself. The lead vocals are more soulful on the track. The piano adds a classical element in certain places on the song. The rest of the song is a straight away hard rock song.
Travelers starts out with a sound effect of a clock tower both ringing and tick toking giving the track a subtle sense of urgency with the listener. The lyrical content talks about time and how humans have used it in both our lives and our travels. About the 1:05 mark the track explodes into a heavy wall of sound with a big guitar and bass/drum section. The lead vocals keep getting stronger with every song and Travelers serves as a great example of them. Much in the tradition of hard rock there are towering guitar solo’s serving as transitions within the song.
Man For All Seasons begins in a very traditional folky renaissance chord progression much like what would of been heard in the 16th century Europe. It gives the appearance that a king has returned home to his castle and kingdom. This track takes away a lot from Gary Hughes early work with 2003’s Once And Future King Parts 1&2. The folky passage in soon joined by a straight away hard rock chord progression passage. The lyrical content even speaks of a a era ruled by King Henry. The twin lead guitar and the stringed section gives the song some extra fire. The track maintains a very steady and progressive melodic metal chord progression. This track builds layer upon layers subtlety and gradually. Both twin lead guitar’s very fluently back off one another in their solo’s as if they are communicating back and forth.
In My Dreams starts out with a thunderous rhythm section that meets the senses of the listener immediately. There is also a noticeable method to the madness with the open intro. This track has a lot of the AOR elements you would find in a film to a 1980’s soundtrack. Lyrically it is a risque style love story perhaps by a adolescent with a hard crush on a girl or full grown adult woman for that matter. The twin lead guitar solo’s really play off one another giving the stringed portion of the track a deeper level of fullness.
The Wild King Of Winter opens up very atmospheric with steady keyboards and lush guitars to form a semi electric/semi acoustic landscape allowing for the listener to be enveloped within the song. It soon takes off with a blistering straight ahead dark heavy guitar. This is one of those tracks that make Gothica darker than the last few previous TEN albums. The heavy instrumental portion gives the listener the appearance that there is this great conflict about to happen or is in progress. The riffs are also straight away galloping riffs that remind much of early NWOBHM sound. The thunderous rhythm section remains pretty consistent throughout the song providing both heaviness and depth.
Paragon lyrically talks about virtue or the lack thereof. This track is another one of those with lyrical content that put ‘Adult’ into Adult Oriented Rock or AOR. The opening starts with a beautiful piano in harmony with a isolated vocal that opens the story up for the listener. This song can be looked upon as a power ballad with some heavy elements within the guitars and full rhythm section, all that can be heard very well. With all the erotica and love elements there is still a darker under layer in the song.
Welcome To The Freakshow starts out like you might expect it, a total circus. The opening is as if the listener becomes a audience member in the town circus. This would be a adult circus. Once again there are some heavy erotica elements. This track here is also a great testament of how Gary Hughes & TEN can tell several stories within the album construct. Although there may be a common theme present every song has its own uniquely written, recorded and melodiously articulated story. Welcome To The Freakshow is a perfect example to this. The song even gets a little bluesy and gritty the further along it goes.
La – Luna Dra -cu – la opens up with a heavy chord progressive passage with big rhythm guitars in harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. The twin lead guitars continue to add depths and layers. It also opens with very dark elements which are appropriate due to the very nature of the title. Some of the lyrical content is reminiscent of a Bram Stoker novel meets a Boris Karloff film. The guitar solo’s are a bit nasty yet groove laden. This track is also more into the melodic heavy metal genre. The band pulls no punches and spares no expense being intentionally heavy on this one. There is still a erotic tone through the song as well.
Into Darkness opens up with a sound effect much like a film projector inside a cinema. The track opens up musically with a beautiful piano of Darrel Treece Birch. This song is a all out heavy power rock ballad. It soon picks up and takes various twists and turns into heavier dimensions and breaks and comes back to the power ballad element. The vocals are isolated perfectly as to allow the story to harmoniously be articulated towards its target audience. The beautiful twin lead guitar solo’s really stand out in the production as well.
Paragon (Bonus Mix) – Japanese Version Only this track is a more user audience friendly version that is only on the Japanese version. It is also edited down considerably from the album version to be radio friendly also. There is more heavy keyboard atmospheres present here as well.
TEN’s Gothica is the perfect album for their return to Frontiers Records srl. There is a little bit of every element the band has utilized over its 20+ years in the business. Once again Gary Hughes surrounds himself with some of the top musicians in the world to carry out such fantastic vision. Gothica also proves that melodic heavy metal and AOR can also have a darker heavier appeal to attract a much larger audience. TEN’s Gothica gets a 5/5for staying true to their vision and values their fans and audience members have come to expect.
The Samurai Of Prog are definitely a modern ‘Progressive Rock Enigma’. There is a uncanny ability among its members to celebrate progressive rocks’ past while appealing to a modern more current audience with more contemporary elements that make for their unique sound. Last year in 2016 I was introduced to this Progressive Rock Enigma by Marty Dorfman at House Of Prog. It turned out to be one of the best introductions I have had with a pure progressive rock band in the past 20 years. What I heard defied some of my expectations as to what a progressive rock band could do.
When Steve Unruh sent me the promotion copy of Lost And Found I was floored by the physical presentation of the packaging. It was at that moment I noticed that this band was very different from where their contemporaries were and are. It may of been a CD , however it certainly opened in the way a gatefold would with a vinyl experience. The individual disc’s even had their very own sleeves within the fold out jacket as a whole. The very detail in their packaging and physical representation translated very well into the music itself. My review for The Samurai Of Prog Lost And Found can be found HERE
Where Lost And Found was older music dusted off the shelf and reworked, re-recorded and remastered, On We Sail is a album of all brand new material. On We Sail on the surface gives you the appearance that it might be a conceptual work, however the 9 songs on the album are more set to a common theme or thread throughout the album. Once again Marco Bernard, Steve Unruh and Kimmo Porsti have gathered together a all star cast ensemble of world class musicians as noted above in the ‘Guest Musician’s’ roster. On We Sail also sees the band bring both its progressive rock influences such as Jethro Tull ,Gentle Giant, Yes, Camel, Caravan, Renaissance on the early end. On the modern end there are influences from 1980’s Neo Progressive Rock with the likes of Marillion, IQ, Galahad, Pallas, Pendragon and Enchant.
The Samurai of Prog seem to know what they want in album art and never shy away from recruiting top artists in the progressive rock art genre. One name that has remained synonymous with The Samurai Of Prog has been Ed Unitsky. I remember when I reviewed Lost And Found last year how utterly accurate Ed Unitsky captured both the band’d personality and their personalities in relationship to the music on the double album. Ed Unitsky is easily in the same conversation with the likes of Roger Dean and Storm Thorgerson as one of the definitive progressive rock album artists of the past 50 years. Once again Ed Unitsky has captured the personality and mood of The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail perfectly like he always has. The packaging is almost too gorgeous to open.
When you open The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail it is a 6 panel digipak style with the exception that the plastic tray has been replaced with a very fine mini jacket sleeve much in the tradition of a vinyl album. When you remove the CD it even share the same spirit and tradition of a vinyl release in a otherwise digitally handicapped musical atmosphere. With the lyrical content on the album having a heavy nautical theme throughout it, Ed Unitsky has perfectly and tastefully captured that in a moment in time that will help preserve the albums integrity and eventual legacy.
The Common Nautical Thread
The listener does not have to look into it too much to realize that The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail has a common theme through it. This is a heavy nautical theme. Although there is not a main concept, each song is a representation of what the band want to convey to the listener. The listener also hears something new or something different with every listen due to the multiple instruments and melodic layers. Let us now journey into The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail with a track to track analysis.
On We Sail Music – Kerry Schaklett Lyrics & Vocal Melodies – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin , Kerry Schacklett – Keyboards, Srdjan Brankovic – Electric Guitars
This one opens up with a beautifully done vintage style synth with modern neo progressive rock elements. Soon the deep rhythm section of bass and drums adds to the deepening layers the band utilizes through out the song and the album. Soon heavy melodies of violin come into the mix. The instrumental melodies really jump out with brief breaks to allow the composition to breathe. Soon a Gentle Giant style vocal comes in perfect harmony and melody with the instrumental backdrop. The violin enters in and soon provides even more layers to the song. The instrumental solo’s are very deeply rooted a more neo progressive mindset. The guitar solo’s really allow the track to gel with this heavily stringed section composition. Some of the guitar work reminds me a lot of Steve Howe meets Ronnie Stolt of the Flower Kings.
Elements Of Life
Music – Octavio Stampalia Lyrics – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin/Flute , Octavio Stampalia – Keyboards , Ruben Alvarez – Electric & Acoustic Guitars
This one has a very unique isolated flute to open up the track. The isolated flute reminding me more of Camel with a little bit of Jethro Tull in it. The flute also adding a more classical music imprint. Soon the song takes a more lush orchestral direction before the deeper warmer bass comes in both as a melodic and rhythmic instrument. The track itself has a deep classical musical aesthetic throughout it. On the instrumental portion of this the band provides for a great soundtrack to the various weather elements of the human experience. This is perfectly matched in harmony with the lyrical content of the song. Like Fire, Wind, Water, Earth the band explores all these within the melody in relationship between the instrumental and lyrical content. Part of this reminds me of parts of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. The deep Rickenbacker bass adds a deep Earth like tone to the rhythm section. The guitar solo’s do a great job in conveying the wind elements. The keyboards have a heavy Dixie Dreg’s style to them.
Music – Luca Scherani Lyrics – Pikko Salhi & Kev Moore Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass, Kimmo Porsti – Drums/Percussion & Backing Vocals , Steve Unruh – Violin/Vocals/Flute , Luca Scherani – Keyboards , Ruben Alvarez – Electric Guitar , Michelle Young – Vocals
If you like Annie Halsam and Renaissance you will like this. Michelle Young stands out as a true treasure on vocals. She sings with a very sultry yet soulful voice. The opening of this track sets up much in the tradition of Renaissance’s Mother Russia. The guitars have a heavy Floydian influence about them. The opening top this is very stringed section driven with obvious emphasis on guitar’s , violins, and keyboards interchanging and weaving like a beautiful web. It is matched in melody and harmony with both rhythm sections and beautifully orchestrated feminine vocals. This is a track that also places a great emphasis on time signatures and chord progressions. There is also beautiful exchange of both male and female vocals. The backing vocals are very heavily symphonic in their nature. There are some nice breaks in between vocal lines allowing the track to breathe so the listener can take in its full intended purpose.
Music – David Meyers Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass, Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Violin/Flute , David Meyers – Keyboards , Jacques Friedmann – Electric Guitar
This open up with a very atmospheric keyboard orchestration that is soon picked up in melody with a subtle and brilliant bass line from Marco Bernard. It soon takes a more fusion funk chord progression with the gentle style of the flute accentuating the instrumental melody. The electric guitar opens this one up into a deeper layer of a atmospheric track. The way this was tracked you can tell they had some fun with this instrumental. It all comes together like they played it live as a unified band in the studio. This is one of those tracks that appears to have been minimal effort with the pay off of maximum distribution. The piano allows a classical element to be present in the song as well.
Music – Sean Timms Lyrics & Some Vocal Melodies – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Violin/Vocals/Flute , Sean Timms – Keyboards , Mark Trueack – Vocals , Jacob Holm Lupo – Electric Guitars , Ruben Alverez – Electric Guitar Solo
This opens with a beautifully guitar led passage that is enhanced with the subtle sound of the flute and immediate vocals. It is a perfect set up for a great story. There are great melodies and layers of violins and flutes along with the guitar and keyboard stringed sections. This has a very heavy Celtic/Folk atmosphere about it much like a element of World influences. The rhythm section really anchors this allowing every other instrument involved their ‘Day In The Sun’ if you will. I also feel at times elements of Camel and Caravan peaking through the melodic veil. Steve Unruh has such a highly distinctive flute that has become a major staple in the discography of The Samurai Of Prog. I like the way the track isolates the piano and vocals around the 5:30 mark. The vocals are very Southern Empire meets IQ. This is also a very uplifting song lyrically wise. The band also has a very astute ability to let every song breathe where all the instruments shine through and this song is a perfect example of it.
The Perfect Black (Instrumental)
Music – Oliverio Lacagnina
Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass ,Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Flute/Violin/AdditionalClassic Guitar , Oliverio Lacagnina – Keyboards , Flavio Cucchi – Classical Guitar
This is a little bit darker track. It begins with a deep rhythm section along with a open atmospheric style Hammond Organ. This is a heavily stringed section based track along with a heavy wind instrument track. Its nature carries a tone about it like the captain of a ship navigating through some rough waters. The Perfect Black is a excellent title due to the unpredictable chord progressions and time signatures. The very backbone to this track is heavily classical in nature. For those who score films this track gives the listener the appearance that a symphony orchestra is playing to a set of film clips. This track also allows the listener to breathing room to absorb the adventure as they see fit instead of forcing the motion picture on the screen of the theater of the mind. The piano reminds me more of Bach or Mozart playing progressive rock. The classical guitar’s also have a heavy Latin element about them.
Music & Lyrics – Kerry Schacklett Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Volin/Flute , Kerry Schacklett – Acounstc & Electric Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals ,Brett Kull – Electric Guitar
This definitely has a very vintage Jethro Tull element about it. Much of the opening passage is in the tradition of Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick. The band does a great job in storytelling with the lyrical content. Even traditionally non progressive fans can relate to its content. The heavy Ian Anderson influenced flute of Steve Unruh is the unsung hero in this song. The drums of Kimm Porsti really allow the flute and stringed instruments the opportunity to engage the listener on many levels. This is another uplifting and positive song of childhood innocence. In general this is a very fun song that will resonate with many objective listeners.
Over Again (Instrumental)
Music – David Meyers David Meyers – Bosendorfer Grand Piano
This opens up with a baby grand piano passage about it. The piano really reminds me a lot of Beethoven meets Bach. This is a great transition instrumental that will work in live sets to give the other members of the band a brief rest period. This is also a very soothing track that allows the listener time to digest the album thus far. It also transition’s seamlessly into the final track on the album Tigers.
Music & Lyrics – Stefan Renstrom Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin/Flute , Stefan Renstrom – Keyboards/Vocoder ,Daniel Faldt – Vocals , Roberto Vitelli – Moog Taurus Pedals
This comes right in smoothly and seamlessly off Over Again. The track opens up with most its instrumental in one melodic coco phonic harmony. The opening has some very heavy piano and violin elements. It drops and then the isolated piano in harmony with isolated vocals begin to tell the story intended by the band. This track is a very traditional progressive rock track. It is heavy on the keyboards, flute and violin to add greater depth and layers that are the signature of The Samurai Of Prog. The vocals are very soulful and executed with great conviction. The vocals not only serve as a harmonic story teller, they also hit every note perfectly as they go. The transitions within the vocals are spot on perfect. The open ended guitar solo’s add a depth of great emotion about them. The rhythm section also picks this up quite nice towards the 7:00 to 8:00 minute marks.
This final track gives the listener the appearance that they have taken the album to its final destination thus finishing the beautiful melodic journey that has been The Samurai Of Prog On We Sail.
Although this was not a deliberately planned out conceptual piece it certainly felt that way. I like how the band always leave breathing room for the listener to absorb and digest every album according to their individual personalities. The Samurai Of Prog also prove there is still a market for organic uncompressed traditional progressive rock. Nothing ever seems forced to appease a record label or the industry whatsoever. They also have a intelligent awareness to incorporate newer elements that may attract a newer listener base. I am giving The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail a 5/5.