Stephen, Justin, and I have decided to start a new feature that allows us to express opinions about albums that might not really inspire a full review in our heads, but we still think they deserve exposure. We are hoping to post one of these every month, just to give a rundown of some albums that have been our minds.
Whenever I write a review, I like to do a little research on the band outside of the press kit and the album. Typically this just means going google.com, typing “xxxxx band” or “xxxxx music,” and learning a thing or two about the band’s history and music. In this case, I learned that “Seabands” are an acupuncture-based remedy for motion sickness. I also took a moment to listen to some ocean based ASMR. Eventually, I was able to read a little bit more about the band, but it took some doing. So for the band name review, SEA gets a 3/10. The album gets a much better score, though.
SEA’s “The Grip of Time” is an album of throwback hard rock. For some, the idea of “throwback rock” evokes the gleeful mock sincerity of groups like The Darkness (who share a producer with SEA), but this is something different – more along the lines of The Sword or The Lord Weird Slough Feg – music born out of a genuine love for raw, powerful rock. It’s heavy riffs, guitar harmonies, pounding drums, nimble bass playing, and powerful vocals, wrapped up in a heavy rock package.
There’s really not too much more to say about “The Grip of Time.” It’s not an album of shifting dynamics – though there are quiet moments which work quite well. Nor is it an album filled with the sort of technical mastery that many prog fans look for – though the musicianship is excellent throughout. It’s an album of hard rock, heavily influenced by the NWOBHM. It’s an album with chunky riffs and blistering guitar solos. It’s an album that you should pick up today and then plug in your best speakers, open up your windows, and blast it until your neighbors complain.
If you’ve been following the site, you’ve noticed quite a bit of instrumental prog this year. Guitarist Steven DeMartini messaged the site with his recent album “One Sound from Many”, released in July. I’ve actually been pondering a review for this for some time. When I finally made the plunge, I realized that I didn’t have many things to say, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Steven, hailing from California, is a fantastic guitarist. This album displays his variety of skills, especially his finger work, but you will find plenty of heavier material here, too. His style is definitely a cross between prog rock and prog metal. I specifically like the way that Steven layers his guitars. While playing a more distorted, heavier lick; he will layer in a more atmospheric portion that provides lots of contrast. So, it is actually a very enjoyable experience to hear his music.
Additionally, the album does have this very spiritual, story-telling atmosphere, despite being totally instrumental. The album opens with a suite called “The Span Between”, and I think this is strongest part of the album. “Distance” is a great opener with lots of finger work and a catchy “chorus”, if you want to call it that, “Thought” is probably my favorite song and has this ponderous, urgent feeling that I really enjoy, and then “Time” is the climax of this three part song, and it is appropriately awesome.
The rest of the album doesn’t make as much sense to me as the first three tracks. Most of the tracks are just impressive instrumentals that don’t feel as purposeful as the first part of the album, though I do think these tracks were older songs he simply added to this album. I also really like the final track, “Away Forward”, which has lots of melody and this feel of determination and finality to it.
All in all, “One Sound from Many” is a solid album that starts out with a very interesting suite, but then I find the following three tracks to be somewhat lacking in personality, though played very well. The album ends off on a high point with a short, but very sweet track with an atmospheric ending. Steven has a great ear for layers and melody and rhythm, so I’ll definitely be following him to see what he creates.
I happened across Resistor’s Underground thanks to progstreaming.nl and was immediately pulled into the gritty textures of the the album’s orchestration and lyrical content. This record is thematically similar to Genesis’ Lamb and musically draws from the likes of 90’s Crimson and Caress of Steel era Rush. The straightforward grunge elements, melded with driving metal and accented by unusual stringed and woodwind instruments, create a high-energy sound and maintain a level of intensity throughout the album’s dynamic variation.
Released January 1st, Underground is Resistor’s seventh DIY album. Its lyrics recount the story of an imprisoned amnesiac in an underground prison where killers and activists have their memories erased and are abandoned to their own devices. These dark overtones are richly reflected in the album’s heavy orchestration, layered with overdubs of vocals and raw guitars.
Some memorable tracks are the album opener, “Arrival,” which calls back to Crimson’s “Thrak,” and “Killers and Activists,” which maintains a frenetic paranoia of sloppy guitars and rapid lyrics. “Running Into Walls” is a personal favorite, featuring some great electric violin and guitar work, along with some meter variation and a Gentle Giant-esque vocal segment. I also love the sneaky funk groove on “Atonement,” and the ambitious scope of the album’s 24-minute epic, “Halls of Home.”
Resistor is surely one of those albums that incite debate about whether or not it can truly be called “prog.” The record isn’t without its orchestrated quirks – unconventional structures that altogether keep it squarely out of the “pop” category. However, with the exception of longer-than-average tracks (including one epic-length piece), some cool instrumentation, and an overarching concept, it merely keeps a foot in the door of the progressive music, flirting with a post-grunge/rock fame of reference as well as modern progressive metal.
Regardless of its classification, however, this is an enjoyable and memorable album worth investing in – for an intriguing story told via the roaring mantle of rock-n-roll.
Find SEA online:
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Find Resistor online: