Anyone even remotely into the progressive side of heavy metal will probably have heard of Inside Out Music. One of the premier progressive record labels, Inside Out is home to some of the most talented musicians and songwriters in all of music, let alone heavy metal. WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE is the band’s second full sampler, covering 15 of their top bands, ranging from the very well known (Symphony X, Devin Townsend), to the more obscure (California Guitar Trio, Conspiracy). The nice thing about progressive music is that it allows for a lot of bands to play totally original music, and yet share a number of the same common threads. Basically, you can tell that each and every band on here, good or bad, is a perfect example of what Inside Out Music is all about.
The disc starts with some of the best bands in the business right now: OSI, Symphony X, and Evergrey. Clearly the three crown jewels on the label, each band weaves strong melodies throughout their prog, with OSI being the most light-hearted and bouncy of the three, Symphony X the heaviest, and Evergrey somewhere in between (but much more somber). Truly, their “Recreation Day” is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year.
As the album moves along we get more hard rock based prog songs in the form of Steve Hackett and Conspiracy, both bands placing a heavier emphasis on catchy hooks and melodies than heaviness. Both bands come to the table with good songs, though I could do without the quasi-rap on “Conspiracy”.
Following these two is the fourth fantastic band on the roster, Arjen Lucasson’s Star One. I missed out on the group’s SPACE METAL from last year, but the sheer brilliance of “High Moon” has me convinced that I should check the disc out. Awesome stuff.
Threshold’s “Phenomenon” is a very Dream Theater-esque heavy prog machine, with hints of the previously heard Symphony X. Also damn good.
From here the sampler takes a slight dip in quality, as tracks 8 – 11 don’t stand up to the preceding songs. I don’t know what it is, and I know that a lot of people love this guy, but I just don’t get what the big deal with Devin Townsend is. I appreciate is work ethic and his dedication to his music, but all of the songs I’ve heard that aren’t on CITY have just not impressed me at all. So it goes with his contribution to this disc, “Storm”. Derek Sherinian contributes a decent heavy instrumental, and the California Guitar Trio’s “Dancing Ann” is a nice bouncy guitar dance, but neither leaves much of a mark. The less said about The Flower Kings the better.
Enchant’s swirling prog is next, saving the last half of the album with extremely high quality music. The Jelly Jam and Spock’s Beard close out the disc with two more good tracks, though neither matches up to the first three songs.
Overall this is an excellent overview of Inside Out Music, showcasing a number of bands that deserve much more exposure, as well as highlighting what a quality label IOM is.
1) OSI - OSI
2) Symphony X – The Wicked
3) Evergrey – Recreation Day
4) Steve Hackett – Brand New (edit)
5) Conspiracy - Conspiracy
6) Star One – High Moon
7) Threshold – Phenomenon
8) The Devin Townsend Band – Storm
9) Derek Sherinian – Axis of Evil
10) California Guitar Trio – Dancing Ann
11) The Flower Kings – Monkey Business
12) Enchant – Sinking Sand
13) The Jelly Jam – Nature’s Girl
14) Spock’s Beard – The Bottom Line