Fireworks

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An album that will appeal no end to those with a penchant for the modern Prog style.

This album seems to have come in under the radar, released in March it only arrived for review in August*, which is something of a surprise when considering the marketing value of guest appearances of players with a pedigree that includes Porcupine Tree (Gavin Harrison, Richard Barbieri), Steely Dan, Toto, and Sting (Keith Carlock) amongst others.

This concept album, which is the brainchild of writer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Dale Simmons, has as its central theme the downward spiral and ultimate demise of a man due to the psychological and physical effects of a long term, self-imposed isolation; with the songs representing a sequence of events that document his thought processes and eventual deterioration. That sounds gloomy but that's not representative of the music's overall feel.

In modern parlance this is a very short album at not much over forty minutes, but that shouldn't detract from what is an album that will appeal no end to those with a penchant for the modern Prog style as epitomized by Steven Wilson and his disciples. One might feel that the style is a little too close to that of the aforementioned PT and in places Pink Floyd, both of whom seem to be influences.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Opening song 'Stolen Wings' has a definite PT vibe, particularly in the vocal delivery and drum pattern, albeit with a bit more tempo than I associate with them. The track kicks up several gears when Simmons tears off a really good guitar solo. 'Metamorph' has an easy-going start and features more fine guitar work, both electric and acoustic. As he does on the first track Carlock excels on the drums. Mid-way through it gets heavier and somewhat abstract, which loses me in terms of melody.

'Seeker's Prayer' moves into PF territory initially with the guitar work sounding exactly like Dave Gilmour, when the main part of the song arrives its back to the Wilson/PT-ish style. The shouty vocals on the chorus aren't to my taste. 'The Last Orbit' opens with really nice acoustic guitar refrains, the processed vocals work well and, in a familiar pattern, the track toughens up from time to time. It has the feel of what I'd imagine a modern PF would sound like until the guitar break which is absolutely redolent of classic Gilmour.

'Dead Reckoning' gets the blood pumping as it hurtles along before closing number 'Daylight (Silent Key)' calms things down with a decent Blues intro. A brooding start gives way to an extended guitar solo that remains relevant throughout and doesn't descend into unnecessary widdle. It ends with a melancholy piano and string arrangement that seems rather fitting.

Gary Marshall

(* this review was featured in Fireworks #72)

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