Fireworks

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Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 03, 2015    
 
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One for those who like their Prog to stray into Art Rock territories.

The debut from this San Francisco-based band wouldn't be one to file under easy listening. Essentially a duo, they've roped in outside musicians to expand to a four-piece on this album. They're a Progressive Rock band that mix up heavy riffs and quieter, more reflective acoustic numbers. Production wise it has very raw but clear sound and comes across like a band playing live in the studio.

The guitar has a naked sound, be it electric or acoustic, and has a discordant tone more redolent of nineties bands like Alice In Chains than the sweeter guitar sound of a lot of 1970s and 1980s Prog. 'Candlelight' has a meditative vibe that connects with its lyrics. 'Traveler' includes the kind of bass solo, courtesy of guesting legend Stu Hamm, that hasn't been heard on record since the 1970s. It's the kind of song that is really a track to show off their musicianship, with those snappy time changes Prog bands love.

On 'Annabel Lee', which is based on the Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name, the sombre vocal brings the right Gothic seriousness to the piece. Interestingly, there's a cover of 1990s band Blind Melon's 'St. Andrews Fall'. Not the most obvious choice of a cover but that works in its favour. Played acoustically, it's more concise in terms of song-writing and clearly stands out as having been written outside the band.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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'Riddle Of The Sphinx' is an eight minute epic Prog Rock track that ticks all the boxes that lovers of prime 1970s Prog could want; indicative of the whole record, it takes itself very seriously. The closer 'If There's Time' confirms that the band sound best when operating in an acoustic mode, although this track also includes a well-phrased guitar solo.

Mid-album track, the Progressive Metal attack of 'The Road' works less well, its clash of guitars and drums threatens to fall off the rails and Wade Greenwood's vocals here are an acquired taste. He likes to sing high which is fine on the acoustic numbers but on the heavier tracks it grates a little as his delivery feels like caterwauling after a couple of tracks.

This is one for those who like their Prog to stray into Art Rock territories, who don't mind hearing a band, warts and all, rather than the lush air brushed production sound a lot of Prog bands strive for.

Duncan Jamieson

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