Released: 2002, Insideout
“For the 12 days of Christmas, Satan brought to me, twelve progressive bands and some headphones under my tree”!! What better time of year to stay indoors with the headphones on listening to Prog? ‘Tis the festive season after all…. and sometimes sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate and listening to death metal bands screaming about eating babies just doesn’t cut it. This month we bring reviews on Blue Oyster Cult, Enchant, Explorers Club, The Jelly Jam, Jughead, Jordan Rudess, Magellan, Planet X, RPWL, Spock’s Beard, Threshold and Ty Tabor. After hearing some of the dozen mellower bands in this months Progressive Music feature you may be motivated to stay inside for the next three months and practice! Happy Holidays!!
I recently reviewed the Planet X Live album and down graded it from a 4 to a 3.5 based on the fact that I felt it was premature, and pretentious. (Click here for a review) I have no qualms assigning back that half mark and add another half for this studio album!!
The band it seems has embraced their true calling and now the promotional campaign suggests they are the most dangerous musicians on the planet and they want to make the sickest music possible. Damn if that is not a pretty ambitious statement bordering on ego, but…ya can’t argue with the facts!! This CD is over the top insane prog-metal! This is the album that critics and non-fans will hold up and say, this is incredible talent on display but lacks any semblance of a traditional song. Well, that is the point.
The three culprits responsible for this majestic glory fest are Tony MacAlpine (Guitar) , Virgil Donati (drums) and Derek Sherinian (keys) with three gust bassists sprinkled throughout. Interestingly enough Donati writes the bulk of the material which follows a sci-fi theme much as I predicted. The realm of the future really is the only appropriate image and theme the band could have embraced. Fantasy or political imagery and themes just would not work.
I was fortunate to meet briefly with Derek Sherinian as he passed through town a few months back and he very generously gave me a very advance copy of this disc. I have been sitting on it, trying to digest this monumental work and now courtesy of the InsideOut (http://www.insideoutmusic.com
) I have the gorgeous digi-pak version! The quality is top notch with a purple outer-space look with a very nice layout and eye-catching design. Even the construction and paper quality is amazing. Very futuristic and cool.
This disc has ten songs and oddly enough they are all short, almost all of them are about six minutes in length, which is short by progressive rock standards. Keeping a shorter length seems to have worked because with a longer song the tune has room to breath, contract and expand, whereas with these songs the ideas are crammed into a tight little space giving them a sense of urgency. Some of the songs come across as frantic, which is the point when you are claiming to make the sickest music possible! The opening track is probably the most traditional and radio friendly song with a slight Rush vibe. This is the part where I say these guys are incredibly talented performers. This thing is one giant musical orgasm and solo shred fest where all instruments are set to “maximum stun”. Fantastic! The band have accepted what they are, embraced it, perfected and have created what is likely to be one of the most critically acclaimed prog CD’s this year, along with the Spock’s Beard but for very different reasons. You can visit the website at http://www.xplanetx.com.