Presto Ballet - 'Relic Of The Modern World' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 21, 2013    
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It may be stylistically retro but it's certainly music of the highest order.

Anyone reading my reviews of Presto Ballet’s previous three albums and their most recent EP will know that I have a very soft spot for their wonderfully retro style of Rock. Indeed, it was main man Kurdt Vanderhoof’s (guitars) vision that he would create music that harked back to the days when the likes of Kansas, Styx, Rush, Yes etc. ruled the airwaves. Using authentic analogue instrumentation from the era he and his cohorts create the sounds and feel of those heady times, the artwork is also of that period as is the length of the album, a concise forty minutes. There has been a change in personnel since the EP (‘Love What You’ve Done With the Place’) in that vocalist Ronny Monroe’s commitments with Trans-Siberian Orchestra mean he’s no longer available; he has been replaced by Chuck Campbell who appears to have little or no pedigree that I can find, but he’s tailor made for the role as his voice fits neatly into the band’s ethos.

From the opening acoustic guitar refrain of ‘The Chemical Age’ and the following synth interlude it’s evident that you’re in Pomp heaven and the memories come flooding back. It gets even better as a Rush vibe comes to the fore, reminding me of ‘Red Barchetta’, whilst the bridge and chorus lean towards Styx. Campbell’s vocals, on this track, are slightly different to Monroe’s, having a Geddy Lee (Rush) tinge to them albeit with greater vibrato; but they are just right for the material he is asked to deliver and he’s no one-trick pony. The track is underpinned by a glorious Hammond organ and it fair romps along exuding melody as it goes. The synth and guitar solos are sublime whilst the drumming of Chris G would do justice to Portnoy (Dream Theater) or Peart (Rush).

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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‘Watching the Radio’ has a heavy riff before a different groove takes over and an Argent (‘Hold Your Head Up’) style Hammond drives the tune forward. Lyrically the song reflects the era before MTV when people valued music rather than treating it as background or disposable. ‘Broken Toys’ features a staccato piano refrain which is supplemented by Hammond and a gritty guitar. I’m not fond of Kerry Shacklett’s (keyboards) ‘Prelude to Farewell’ a short instrumental that can’t decide whether it’s a serious classical piece or a frivolous silent movie soundtrack. The title track is an epic at nineteen minutes in length and it covers all the Pomp/Prog bases from the opening instrumental passage that features more delightful Hammond work, classic synth refrains, very impressive vocal arrangements and some tasty dual guitar sections. After the opening salvo there’s a guitar section redolent of Queensryche before the vocals arrive and Starcastle come to mind; later a well placed classical and piano led section provides another flavour to the piece.

So, it may be stylistically retro but it’s certainly music of the highest order.

Gary Marshall

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