Melodic Revolution Records| Featured Review October 2015|
Unified Past|Shifting The Equilibrium
Label: Melodic Revolution Records
Release Year: 2015
Country: United States
Genre: Progressive Rock
Phil Naro – Vocals
Stephen Speelman – Guitars, Synths, MIDI Sequencing
Victor Tassone – Drums, Percussion
Dave Mickelson – Bass Guitar
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I would suppose that the meaning of Unified Past is up for interpretation. To me I see four journeyman musicians who have brought their collective talents and influences to the world of progressive rock. In 2015 they release their new offering titled Shifting The Equilibrium on Melodic Revolution Records. From my observation I see four guys who have brought a little bit of every decade of progressive rock in the last 45 years and put it on one recording.
When Stephen Speelman – Guitars, and I first made arrangements to get me a copy of CD to review, I honestly did not know what I was in for. After the first spin all the way through, I was very impressed. I can see why such respected publications such as Reuters, Yahoo News, Boston Globe and Bloomberg News has given this high regard. To top that off they also have received a huge billboard of advertising in Times Square in New York City. This praise has been well warranted.
I have appreciated the originality of this project both instrumentally and lyrically. This is straight up pure power progressive rock that reminds me of the days of RUSH’s Farewell To Kings, Hemispheres or 2112 to Emerson Lake and Palmer to even non progressive styles like Zebra and Triumph. There are 6 very different yet elegantly arranged tracks on Shifting The Equilibrium that clock in at a total of 56+ minutes. I will point of some highlights of each track on the album.
Erasure Principle opens up with a great percussive intro with the cymbals playing a surround mix for the listener followed by a bass drum. Soon after the track takes a crunchy progression with a hard driving rhythm guitar before being followed up by the rest of the rhythmic section. The guitar deviates to some lead to rhythm interchanged before a very clean harmonic vocal from Phil Naro comes into play. Phil Naro’s voice reminds me of a mix of one part Randy Jackson from Zebra meets one part Rik Emmett from Triumph and a final part Jon Anderson of Yes. Erasure Principle has a nice continuity of progression with various rhythmic sections, guitar solo’s and neo progressive synths all interchanging at various signatures.
Smile (In The Face Of Diversity) starts with a thunderous rhythm section and neo progressive synth in abstract harmony with one anther before settling in at the :50 mark. At the 1:29 mark the track takes a more traditional progressive metal approach much in the fusion area of say a Derek Sherinian with Planet X. This is also driven with great progressive keyboards driving the backbone. There are some proper breaks where the keyboard creates a great atmosphere for a isoalted vocal harmony before going back to straight away progressive rock time stamps. At the 5:29 mark Phil displays some semi melodic semi spoken word vocal styles. Stephen Speelman has some very tight solo’s exchanging with rhythm portions.
Etched In Stone begins with a electric acoustical guitar passage in harmony with the synth and midi programming. Once again the band employs a nice break where the vocals are isolated in harmony with the instrumental. The track takes on a good solid signature instrumentally to build harmony and melody on top one another. At the 3:00 mark the signatures going in and out wicked some very deep bottom bass progressions and guitar solo’s. The vocal atmospheres get really tight on point in Etched In Stone. This is also a track that is a delight for the rhythm enthusiast with great tight drum bass harmonies. That is also with a perfect compliment from the stringed section between guitar and synths. At about the 6:45 mark the synth provides a flute like signature as a great harmonic melodic bridge.
Peace Remains In This World opens up with a straight up power progressive passage of emotion that drives the lyrical content for the listener to follow in a groove laden manner. There is some great exchanges between the main rhythmic progression and guitar solo’s that are really catchy. At times the track takes a semi pop sensibility. This is probably the heaviest track on Shifting The Equilibrium.
Deviation From A Theme (Of Harmonic Origin) starts out with a power progressive fury. The band have definitely found their niche and identity on this one. This has some sick wicked straight away rock parts that break from time to time into a more lucid signature. There are big solo’s and heavier bass to drum progressions. The guitar takes on effects as if speaking from time to time. The guitar in this reminds me a lot of Dave Bainbridge of IONA meets John Petrucci of Dream Theater. Deviation From A Theme (Of Harmonic Origin) is the only instrumental on the album that displays the band’s instrumental prowess.
Today Is The Day starts out with a very old school progressive psychedelic vibe much like Yes’ Tales Of Topographic Oceans with some Sieges Even and Dream Theater combined elements. The keyboard atmospheres and rhythm atmospheres really gel in a tighten groove on this one. The lyrical content is one definitely influenced by Yes to Genesis. There seems to be a different instrumental with each verse and bridge at times having surround effects. In its 11:51 entirety, Today Is The Day has enough time signatures and progressions giving the listener the appearance the track is a 15:00 to 20:00 epic.
Unified Past’s Shifting The Equilibrium is on the edge of the evolution of cerebral progressive rock. Unified Past puts on both a instrumental and vocal harmonic clinic for how progressive rock is to be written, recorded, engineered and mastered. I can not wait to hear some of this in a live atmosphere. I give this a 5/5 for its spot on accuracy and thought provoking progressions.