Random album reviews

Jer

My sins are many
Spawned from the 365 Albums In One Year thread, where @The Dissident achieved glorious success while @Diesel 11 suffered shameful failure, this is a thread for posting any random album reviews you’d like to share, or for posting links to album reviews in other topic threads.

Reviews of Iron Maiden albums are probably better suited to the appropriate section of the Song and Album Commentaries forums. Reviews of Maiden-related solo albums and side projects might fit best in the appropriate section of the Solo/Side Project Discussion forums, but would probably merit a link here as well.
 

Jer

My sins are many
Some reviews of mine:
For those unfamiliar with how I rate things, this is my scale:

10. (Nearly) Flawless
9. Excellent
8. Great
7. Good
6. OK
5. Meh
4. Kinda stinky
3. Bad
2. Horrible
1. (Nearly) Meritless

Some albums have weighted averages that scale ratings based on song length. In cases where weighted averages appear, I consider those numbers to be my final album rating.
 
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Jer

My sins are many
In the wake of Neil Peart’s death, like many people I’ve found myself listening to more Rush. I thought it might be fun to listen through all of their original studio albums, especially the 70s ones that I haven’t spent as much time with. Feel free to join me if you’re interested.

Full disclosure, I’m more of an 80s Rush fan, though I like most of their later albums and some of their earlier ones.



Rush - Rush (1974)
  • Finding My Way - A simple but busy riff lays the foundation while Geddy busts out his best Robert Plant impersonation. This breaks into a pleasant melodic verse, pre-chorus, and abbreviated chorus. Nice interplay between the guitar and bass, which will become a hallmark of the band’s sound. The “ooh yeahs” and “ooh babes” are kind of jarring when you’re used to Geddy’s more thoughtful delivery from later albums. The song works through an interesting bridge and interlude, revisiting the intro and the verse riff before wrapping up. Very good, I think I would round this up to an 8/10.
  • Need Some Love - An uptempo bluesy rocker with a calmer chorus. The verse is pretty good, but the chorus is nothing special. At least the guitar parts stay interesting. 6/10.
  • Take A Friend - We fade in on a raw cacophony of notes before breaking into a midtempo groove. A melodious verse and chorus with some nice vocal harmonies carry us into a decent extended solo. More verse and chorus riffing lead back to the guitar part from the opening before fading away. John Rutsey’s ho-hum drum fills make me eager to move on to the Peart era. Solidly good, 7/10.
  • Here Again - A slower groove leads into an OK bluesy verse. Ew, Geddy whiffs a few of the higher notes earlier on. This plods on for a while before reaching a not-very-successful pre-chorus. Oh wait, was that supposed to be the chorus? A boring first solo develops into something significantly better over time. More forgettable chorus and a so-so solo put this one out of its misery. A very mixed bag, 5/10.
  • What You’re Doing - A thick, bluesy riff trades off with another Zeppelinesque vocal from Geddy. A simple descending breakdown leads back into the vocal tradeoff, then a busy but OK solo. More pedestrian drum fills from Rutsey. One more round of descending breakdown and vocals before a big rock ending. Decent, but nothing special. 6/10.
  • In The Mood - A bluesy riff and cowbell break into some really insipid lyrics. The vocal melodies are OK, and the chorus borders on being catchy if you can ignore the words. A serviceable solo leads back into the chorus. Another round of cowbell through chorus and this one is put to bed. The terrible lyrics get this one rounded down to a 5/10.
  • Before And After - Ringing guitar tones ease into a gentle groove with hints of “The Spirit Of Radio”. After some noodling this breaks into a heavier bluesy number where Geddy continues his Robert Plant worship. An OK extended solo rolls back into the vocals, followed by another solo rolling back into the vocals. Is the chorus really just “yeah, yeah, yeah”? I guess so. Catchy enough to earn a 6/10.
  • Working Man - A classic riff underpins a catchy verse and pre-chorus. Not a big fan of the plodding guitar that supports the very brief chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, followed by an OK solo and chorus, before the song breaks into a cool series of extended solos and interludes. Minutes later we return to the verse, wrapping up with a few rounds of the chorus, a slowing-tempo riff, and another big rock ending. Lots to like here, and I think it does enough to round it up to an 8/10.
Average: 6.4/10
Weighted: 6.4/10

A pretty good debut effort with a few highlights and some filler. The Led Zeppelin worship is strong here, but you can hear hints of the guitar & bass interplay that would help to define the band’s sound in later years.

The raw and direct feel of this album is refreshing, and quite different from a lot of the music the band was about to create. Geddy also has a lot of passion in his voice here, something he was often accused of lacking once he started singing Peart’s lyrics — but the “ooh yeahs” were not a good sound for him, and I’m glad he moved away from them on later albums.

John Rutsey’s drumming was serviceable here, but nothing more than that. And the lyrics ranged from merely OK to downright embarrassing. Thankfully they picked up Neil Peart before the next album, which began the band’s transformation...
 
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Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Fly By Night (1975)
  • Anthem - A busy roller coaster of a riff eventually gives way to an ascending guitar & bass call and response. Neil Peart’s drumming is immediately noticeable. Softer ringing guitars carry us through a melodious verse and pre-chorus to an epic, echoing chorus. More call & response leads into some sparse, booming chords that mirror the chorus. Another round of verse through chorus and we get a pretty good extended solo. One final round of vocals and more sparse chords close out the track. Punchier and more complex than the debut, this track is a great sign of things to come. Almost excellent, probably merits rounding up to a 9/10.
  • Best I Can - A straightforward rocker more in line with the sound of the debut, but elevated by better drumming. The vocal parts aren’t very memorable, with Geddy doing some weird channeling of an AC/DC vibe. Nice solo section, though. 6/10.
  • Beneath, Between & Behind - An ascending harmonized riff drives a somewhat awkward verse into a more bombastic chorus. A decent interlude leads into a variant verse, then back to the chorus before a brief outro. Some interesting ideas here, but it doesn’t fully come together for me. 6/10.
  • By-Tor & The Snow Dog - This jumps right into an upbeat, melodic verse with nice instrumentation. The chorus is kind of a shouty mess. Another verse and chorus leads into a cool extended interlude with a “conversation” between the guitar and bass. This eventually leads to a more rhythmic interlude with extended drum fills before coming to a complete halt, slowly returning with soft bass and guitar swells. This develops into a great extended bluesy solo before rolling back around to the verse and chorus and a not-so-big rock ending. Lots of great stuff here with only the chorus holding it back a bit. 8/10.
  • Fly By Night - A bright, catchy riff with bouncy bass buffets a great verse and a strong chorus. Another round of verse through chorus leads into a great solo. Another taste of the chorus breaks into a compelling softer bridge that builds back into the chorus to close things out. Short and to the point, but everything is executed with flair. Excellent, 9/10.
  • Making Memories - A somewhat awkward acoustic groove supports an OK verse. This breaks into a more melodious chorus with prominent bass. The verse returns with more of a rock groove, giving way to an OK solo. Another chorus leads into some vocal riffing and guitar soloing that ends the track. A mixed bag that leans toward the positive. 6/10.
  • Rivendell - A soft acoustic melody accompanies an equally soft vocal. Starts to gain some momentum about halfway through, then backslides again. Pleasant enough, but doesn’t really go anywhere. 6/10.
  • In The End - Another acoustic opening leads into another soft vocal that isn’t fully successful. A bit later this breaks into a slow rock groove with some vocal riffing that serves as a disconnected verse and chorus. A decent extended solo leads into a brief bridge before returning to the slow groove and scattershot vocals. A return to the soft intro with a toned down electric feel brings this track to a close. The music here works, but the vocals are more questionable. More OK filler. 6/10.
Average: 7.0/10
Weighted: 7.1/10

A mixed bag, with a little more than half the tracks being pleasant filler, but the rest being great to excellent. “Anthem” and “Fly By Night” are classics for good reason, and “By-Tor & The Snow Dog” was a nice surprise too.

This album has one foot in Lee & Lifeson’s roots, and the other in their prog rock future with Peart. Neil’s lyrics (in most songs) and rhythms assert themselves pretty clearly here, and are a breath of fresh air for the band. A harbinger of things to come.
 
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Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Caress Of Steel (1975)
  • Bastille Day - A simple uptempo riff with percussive accents breaks into an ascending rock groove. This leads into a shouty verse that gives way to a great chorus melody. Another round of verse through chorus and we get a quick breakdown followed by a calmer interlude with droning guitar, then a somewhat messy and directionless solo. A final round of verse and chorus, and an extended multi-part interlude carries us out, finishing with a nice harmonized guitar part. This song has some weaknesses, but the chorus is great and the rest does enough to earn a 7/10.
  • I Think I’m Going Bald - A midtempo rock groove underpins a so-so verse and a pretty bad pre-chorus and chorus. I’d assumed that Geddy wrote the bad lyrics here, but nope, this was Neil. Ouch. The bridge is OK, as is the guitar solo. Another run through this mess and we get another OK extended solo to finish it off. The vocals and lyrics are mostly bad here, but the music is good enough to salvage a 5/10.
  • Lakeside Park - A bright electric riff accompanied by assertive bass supports a solid verse. This shifts into a dreamier, melodious feel for the chorus. A brief interlude leads back into the verse, then a staccato guitar solo before returning to the chorus. A longer interlude folds into a calm vocal bridge and another interlude that builds into a heavier outro. Lots to like here, a strong 7/10.
  • The Necromancer - The band’s first epic-length track begins with soft narration and atmospherics. This leads into some extended noodling, including backward guitar. A haunting verse and some nice soloing eventually gives way to more narration, then some sparse rhythmic bursts and a less appealing vocal. Another pretty good extended solo leads into a heavier interlude, which devolves into some thick distorted bass and a less focused extended solo. This abruptly gives way to clean arpeggios and more narration, followed by a soft groove and a nice vocal. (Oh hey, this is apparently a sequel to “By-Tor & The Snow Dog”.) A nice solo carries this to a close. This song has some very nice parts and some unfocused bits. The narration is cringey, and I don’t think the song really earns its run length, but on balance it’s OK. 6/10.
  • The Fountain Of Lamneth - Apparently the 12-minute epic that preceded this one wasn’t long enough, so we’re strapping in for a full 20 minutes this time! A nice acoustic intro supports a decent vocal...and suddenly we’re electric and heavier. A brief urgent vocal and we fall back to a softer groove and a nice vocal melody. Another round of the heavier and softer sections, then a brief touch on the heavier guitar, and full stop. A drum solo and random bursts of guitar and vocals, and another full stop. A clean arpeggiated riff fades in, leading to an OK vocal part. Another round of this breaks into a heavier section with shouty vocals. A return to the clean riff, and then we get a nice extended electric solo before another full stop. Now an acoustic part accompanies a pretty good vocal. This builds into a soft groove. A return to the acoustic bit with some guitar swells, and this eventually develops into a different soft groove before an acoustic denouement. Another full stop, and then we’re in a midtempo groove with an OK vocal that develops into something a bit heavier with a better vocal. A second round of this, and things fade out again. Now we return to the heavier/softer pattern from the beginning of the song for a couple of cycles and an OK solo. Then we’re suddenly back to an acoustic bit with a nice vocal and a final swell to close things out. Well, that was self-indulgent. Yes, there are six distinct subsections of the song, but none of them work as standalone songs, and they don’t make for a very cohesive whole, either. The good parts are outnumbered by the so-so and unnecessary parts, and this lack of a solid foundation leads me to round the song down to a 5/10. I’m sure someone’s brandishing a pitchfork right about now.
Average: 6.0/10
Weighted: 5.7/10

As the band starts to lean harder into progressive rock they experience some growing pains, letting their ambition outpace their execution on the longer tracks.

“Bastille Day” and “Lakeside Park” are strong, but “I Think I’m Going Bald” borders on being a dud, and the two epics that represent over 2/3 of the album’s running time collapse a bit under their own weight. But the band will soon find their sea legs in the prog rock ocean.
 
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Jer

My sins are many


Rush - 2112 (1976)
  • 2112 - After closing the previous album with a 20+ minute epic, the band decides to kick off their next album with another 20+ minute epic! Hey, why not. Synthy atmospherics are joined by a sparse riff that soon breaks into an uptempo groove with distant “ahs”. This gives way to a slower paced interlude that builds into a heavier riff before breaking into a nice extended solo. This leads into an uptempo interlude with acoustic backup, and a nod to the finale of the 1812 Overture, followed by a big explosion. A soft vocal breaks into a midtempo groove with an aggressive verse vocal. This kicks up a notch into the catchy chorus of “The Temples Of Syrinx”. Another round of verse and chorus and an acoustic bit takes us to a full stop. The sounds of water and a slightly out of tune clean guitar set the stage for a soft vocal about the main character discovering a guitar for the first time. The tempo picks up on the guitar and vocal before settling back into the softer feel. Suddenly we’re going electric into a midtempo groove. This gives way to a softer verse that leads to the more aggressive chorus of “Presentation”. Another round of verse and chorus, and then we get an instrumental reprise of the chorus of “The Temples Of Syrinx” with a wah-laden extended guitar solo. A brief pause, then reverb-laden guitar backs a soft vocal. A reverb effect transitions into a heavier verse, then a chorus underpinned by another riff from “The Temples Of Syrinx”. Another verse and abbreviated chorus, then another pause. The sounds of water and a clean guitar return, accompanying another soft vocal. This kicks into a heavier verse followed by a sweet bluesy solo. Another verse, then we break into an uptempo groove that leads into an extended outro with a busy solo and a final voiceover. Well, that was miles better than “The Fountain Of Lamneth”. Everything here is good to great, and it works as a pretty cohesive suite with musical and lyrical callbacks throughout. I’ll round this up to an 8/10.
  • A Passage To Bangkok - A catchy descending riff supports a strong verse and picks up some guitar harmonies along the way. This breaks into a punchy, catchy pre-chorus before slowing it down for a memorable chorus. Another round of verse through chorus leads into a nice extended solo before returning to the chorus to close things down. Very strong, almost great, though the weird Asian accents at a couple of spots in the song are a bit jarring. 7/10.
  • The Twilight Zone - A melodic lead gives way to a soft groove for the verse and pre-chorus before slowing things down for a tepid chorus. A reprise of the intro, then another round of verse through chorus (this time with creepy whispers), and we get a pretty good extended solo that ends the track. Pleasant enough, but nothing special. 6/10.
  • Lessons - A peppy acoustic groove leads into a catchy verse. This breaks into a questionable pre-chorus and a pretty ugly aborted chorus with a miniature guitar solo. Another round of verse through “chorus”, and then we get a better extended guitar solo that slowly fades away. There’s half of a good song here, but the rest is mediocre to bad. On balance I’ll give it a 5/10.
  • Tears - A gentle 12-string supports a soft verse and pre-chorus. Another round of verse and pre-chorus and then we get an OK chorus with synth orchestration. A gentle interlude, then we get another round of verse through chorus leading into an extended outro. More decent filler, 6/10.
  • Something For Nothing - Acoustic and clean guitars are joined by complementary bass and percussion. A solid verse is punctuated by a couple of heavier guitar breaks before switching into a more aggressive pre-chorus and an unfortunately weak chorus with odd phrasing. A strong extended guitar solo folds back into the chorus. A pretty good bridge leads into an OK interlude, then back into that weak chorus to close things out. A mixed bag that gets more right than it gets wrong. 6/10.
Average: 6.3/10
Weighted: 7.1/10

The band finally nails a progressive epic, and the entire first half of the album’s running time is good to great — but then they succumb to a string of filler tracks again, which brings down the second half.

Peart’s varied and intentionally busy percussion style really announces itself here, and the interplay between Lee’s bass and Lifeson’s guitar continues to mature. We keep seeing flickers of greatness in these early works, but the best is yet to come.
 
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Jer

My sins are many


Rush - A Farewell To Kings (1977)
  • A Farewell To Kings - A medieval acoustic opening is joined by soft synths, eventually cutting into a midtempo electric groove. This breaks into a peppier verse, a pretty good pre-chorus, and a strong chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get an extended bass-driven interlude with busy percussion and an erratic guitar solo. A slightly gentler break, and then we get a short solo before returning to the chorus a couple of times. A lyrical foreshadowing of “Closer To The Heart” leads into a brief two-part outro. Good stuff, 7/10.
  • Xanadu - The album’s first epic opens to soft guitar swells and percussive accents over a chorus of chirping birds. After a couple of minutes a plaintive guitar lead appears, carrying us into an extended interlude with great drum fills. This breaks into a busier groove, then a synth-accented interlude with more awesome drumming. Things slow down a bit, leading into a pleasant verse, a much punchier pre-chorus, and a soft, single-word chorus. A brief synth break leads into a great verse 2. A reprise of an earlier interlude loops back to the pre-chorus and chorus, carrying through verse 2 again. A strong extended solo section comes back to the plaintive guitar lead and a softer outro with a variety of melodic and rhythmic percussion before a big rock ending. Complex, multi-layered excellence. 9/10.
  • Closer To The Heart - A fast-paced acoustic intro leads into a catchy and immediate verse and chorus. A strong solo with percussive accents leads into a heavier version of the intro and a quick verse and chorus before fading out over some extended vocal chorus riffing. This last part with the vocals feels a bit forced, but the rest of this is great. 8/10.
  • Cinderella Man - A brief intro breaks into an acoustic-backed groove, then a solid verse, a less successful pre-chorus 1 and 2 with awkward phrasing, and a more appealing chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get an interlude with great interplay between guitar, bass, and drums under a somewhat bizarre guitar solo. A return to the chorus, then an extended breakdown revisiting earlier riffs in the song closes things down. Lots of strong elements here with a few bits holding it back. I’ll round this up to a 7/10.
  • Madrigal - A piercing synth lead with clean guitar support leads into a soft, appealing verse and what I guess is the chorus. Another run through the verse and chorus, and an extended interlude takes us out. Straightforward and executed well, though the chorus sounds more like a pre-chorus. Still good enough to round up to a 7/10.
  • Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage - The album’s second epic opens with spacey synths and voiceover, then the sound of rocket engines and tolling bells. An odd-rhythm bass line slowly fades in, eventually joined by drums, then guitar. A couple of rhythmic breakdowns lead into a busy interlude, followed by an extended mid-paced groove. A synth lead joins in, eventually building up to an abrupt stop. A soft verse appears, kicking into a heavier pre-chorus. A brief break, then an uptempo groove carries us through a melodic long-form chorus. A vocal bridge leads into a sparse wah-laden solo, which gives way to a soft guitar interlude, occasionally punctuated by bass and drums. This breaks into a driving instrumental, ultimately returning to the busy interlude from earlier in the song. An unpleasantly screechy vocal conveys the entry into the black hole, then sparse ringing guitar closes out the track. Lots of great material here with a few slightly less successful bits. 8/10.
Average: 7.7/10
Weighted: 8.0/10

Now that’s more like it. The band finally delivers an album with two great epics, a few strong shorter songs, and no filler. The musicianship is top notch for most of the running time, with lots of great interplay between the instruments and some interesting song structures.

While Rush put out some great songs before this, I think this is their first great album — with many more to look forward to.
 
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Really enjoying these Rush reviews, Jer. Over the holidays (coincidentally, before Peart's passing) I had started making an effort to go through their catalogue systematically (the three "Sector" box sets had been sitting around, gathering dust). Always good to get some detailed, thoughtful feedback. Rush is one of those bands (Judas Priest being another good example) where I know a number of their songs, without really having a good understanding of most of their albums.

One point on the rating system (not so much directed at you, as a number of people on this site and elsewhere use this approach) - a simple average probably works fine for straightforward rock/pop, but it's probably deceptive for bands with a big range in song lengths. For example, for 2112, you rated the 20-minute title track 8/10, and everything else between 5/10 and 7/10 (all in the range of 3-4 minutes). So the average for the album is 38/6 = 6.3. But even though I agree the second half of the album is underwhelming, I think the rating is too low. Half the album is 8/10, and the other half is (on average) 6/10. So the album is probably something like 7/10. Obviously this is a pain to calculate, but it's (possibly) more meaningful in certain situations.

Like I said, that point isn't directed at you in particular, and it doesn't really matter when people are reviewing, say, Motorhead or AC/DC albums. But it can misleading for Rush and a bunch of prog-oriented bands.
 

Jer

My sins are many
Really enjoying these Rush reviews, Jer.
Thanks!
a simple average probably works fine for straightforward rock/pop, but it's probably deceptive for bands with a big range in song lengths.
I had been thinking about this too, for the same reason. The radical difference in song lengths makes the distinction meaningful. Maybe I’ll go back and do a weighted average of these albums as well and see how different the numbers are — 2112 would get a boost and Caress Of Steel would take a hit, for sure.

Thanks for the feedback!
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too
One point on the rating system (not so much directed at you, as a number of people on this site and elsewhere use this approach) - a simple average probably works fine for straightforward rock/pop, but it's probably deceptive for bands with a big range in song lengths. For example, for 2112, you rated the 20-minute title track 8/10, and everything else between 5/10 and 7/10 (all in the range of 3-4 minutes). So the average for the album is 38/6 = 6.3. But even though I agree the second half of the album is underwhelming, I think the rating is too low. Half the album is 8/10, and the other half is (on average) 6/10. So the album is probably something like 7/10. Obviously this is a pain to calculate, but it's (possibly) more meaningful in certain situations.

Like I said, that point isn't directed at you in particular, and it doesn't really matter when people are reviewing, say, Motorhead or AC/DC albums. But it can misleading for Rush and a bunch of prog-oriented bands.
That's a great idea, I wonder why I've never thought of this myself.
 

Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Hemispheres (1978)
  • Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres - Percussive bursts from the band break into a synth-accented groove, then a military march, then back to a softer groove with ringing guitar. This leads into a busier rhythm that’s occasionally broken up by softer sections. A softer section with guitar harmonies and drum & bass punctuation builds into a brighter interlude. This leads into an OK initial vocal and a screechier and more awkward follow-up vocal. A multi-part interlude with ringing guitar and synth accents leads to a full stop. The busier rhythm from before returns, supporting a strong verse, then a solid pre-chorus over the softer sections. A rhythmic breakdown, then we break into a bright, uptempo extended chorus. A strong extended solo leads into another round of verse through chorus. We then get a reprise of the multi-part interlude from before, with some new variations. A brief melodic guitar lead takes us into a new verse 1 and 2. The vocals are sometimes a bit histrionic here. Another round of verse 1 and 2, and after a brief bass-driven interlude we get a nice melodic vocal bridge, then a quick breakdown to another full stop. Distant guitar and synth with echoes of “Cygnus X-1 Book I” lead into a soft, distant vocal explaining that when you go through a black hole it apparently takes you to Mt. Olympus. OK, then! This eventually breaks into a new verse 1 and 2, then an uptempo interlude that leads into a big rock ending. A final acoustic passage with a great vocal closes out the track. Another grand, coherent epic from the band. Most of this is great, with only a few weaker components. 8/10.
  • Circumstances - A heavy midtempo groove leads into an OK verse, a better pre-chorus 1 and OK pre-chorus 2, and a good chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get a soft interlude with synth and melodic percussion. This breaks into a more uptempo interlude with ringing guitar that folds back into the chorus before a quick outro. Solid stuff overall, 7/10.
  • The Trees - A pleasant acoustic intro with a great vocal builds into a heavier verse and chorus. We then we get a soft interlude with a synth lead and melodic percussion. This slowly builds into a bass-driven groove and a pretty good guitar solo, followed by a series of rhythmic breakdowns, then a final verse to close things down. Great music with nice allegorical lyrics on social status, also intimately familiar to anyone who played Rock Band 2. 8/10.
  • La Villa Strangiato - An acoustic flamenco intro gives way to a clean guitar lead with synth accents. A busy rhythm fades in, eventually breaking into a heavier tradeoff riff that serves as a verse. A melodic guitar lead takes the place of a chorus. Another round of “verse” and “chorus” and we get an extended interlude that calms things down with some guitar swells and extended noodling that develops into a great guitar solo. A muted melodic section follows that kicks it up a notch, then incorporates a section of Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse”, which will sound familiar to most people. A quick bass solo and series of rhythmic breakdowns leads into another exotic guitar solo that incorporates a warped version of the “chorus”. Another interlude loops back around to “Powerhouse”, then another couple rounds of “verse” and “chorus”, another hint of “Powerhouse”, and a quick outro to shut it down. Excellent, 9/10.
Average: 8.0/10
Weighted: 8.2/10

Rush closes out the 1970s with another great album, including another 18+ minute epic and their first instrumental, which clocks in at just under 10 minutes.

The band is firing on all cylinders here, delivering peak 70s prog rock — but soon they’ll find themselves motivated to keep their songs more succinct, which will bring them even greater success.
 

Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Permanent Waves (1980)
  • The Spirit Of Radio - A busy roller coaster of a riff evokes the image of radio waves traveling through the air. The rhythm section works its way in and builds into an ascending groove before falling back into a pair of bright, catchy verses with ringing guitar. The opening riff returns to underpin a strong pre-chorus, then a more rocking chorus. Another pre-chorus leads into an extended guitar and synth interlude, then a reprise of the intro. This falls into a brief reggae-ish section with lyrical allusions to Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence”, followed by a strong guitar solo and a piano-accented interlude before a brief outro. Killer song, almost perfect but for some minor sloppiness in the guitar playing. Still superb enough to round this up to a 10/10.
  • Freewill - A descending guitar lead breaks into a bright groove with synth backing and assertive bass. This supports an awkwardly phrased verse before switching into a fantastic pre-chorus with a calmer feel. This leads into a strong, catchy chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then a brief rhythmic breakdown leads into a somewhat bizarre extended guitar solo. This folds back into a higher-pitched version of the pre-chorus, then one final chorus before an instrumental outro. Most of this is excellent, with only the verse phrasing and the odd solo holding it back a bit. I’ll round it up to a 9/10.
  • Jacob’s Ladder - Bass and synth are joined by marching percussion and arpeggiated clean guitar. This supports an ominous verse that leads into an extended interlude with an ascending guitar lead. This breaks into a strong solo before returning to the ascending lead. A long rhythmic instrumental follows, supported by thick synth pads. This eventually falls away, leaving a spacey synth lead. This is joined by a brief vocal, then slowly supplanted by a melodic guitar lead, building into another extended interlude. A rhythmic breakdown leads into a final vocal outro. A great moody track that’s almost an instrumental, earning a robust 8/10.
  • Entre Nous - A bright, ringing riff and spacey synths lead into a solid verse groove. This breaks into a calm, catchy chorus with acoustic backing. Another verse with nice percussive switch-ups, then another chorus, and we get a nice extended melodic interlude with guitar and synth leads. Another round of verse and chorus closes things down. Lots of great stuff here, with only the verse being a little weaker. Still does enough to earn an 8/10.
  • Different Strings - Acoustic guitar buffets a calm, catchy verse and a somewhat less successful pre-chorus and chorus. This leads into an extended calm interlude. A variant round of verse through chorus rolls into an extended outro supporting a sparse guitar solo. Consistently good, but not great. 7/10.
  • Natural Science - The sound of flowing water and bird calls leads into a series of acoustic verses with distant vocals. A more urgent clean guitar riff breaks into a new verse with awkward phrasing. The guitar picks up, then some sound effects transition abruptly into a different riff supporting effect-laden vocals. This leads into a melodic interlude with a synth lead before another round of the same, this time breaking into an extended guitar solo before returning to the verse with awkward phrasing. Another interlude takes us into a couple rounds of a melodic chorus, then a somewhat wanky solo, and another chorus. A series of rhythmic interludes breaks into a new verse, then an extended outro that gives way to the sound of ocean waves. Lots of cool elements and structure here, but some parts are a little less successful. 7/10 overall.
Average: 8.2/10
Weighted: 8.1/10

Another great album. Rush tightens up their delivery here, leading with a killer 1-2 punch at the start of the record (including my first 10/10 song for the band!) while keeping the quality high throughout.

Though the song lengths are starting to trend downward, the level of musicianship and the amount of interplay between the instruments is only going up. This is also the first album where Geddy’s vocals never sound histrionic. These are two key turning points in the maturing of the band, leading into what I would consider to be their golden age.
 
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Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Moving Pictures (1981)
  • Tom Sawyer - A synth tone and a sparse beat introduce a brief verse 1. This breaks into an ascending riff underpinning a great, catchy verse 2. A brief bass-driven interlude falls back into a memorable, half-spoken pre-chorus before giving way to a calmer synth-laden chorus. Another verse 1 and a synth lead carries us through a melodic interlude and into an extended guitar solo with prominent bass support. A reprise of the ascending riff rolls back into the pre-chorus and chorus. Another taste of verse 1 and an extended synth-led outro closes things down. Superb from start to finish, this is arguably the band’s best-known song, and for good reason. 10/10.
  • Red Barchetta - Soft guitar harmonics are joined by synth, drum, and bass, breaking into a pleasant groove. A catchy verse gains some percussive accents, then breaks into a heavier rhythm before cutting into a great pre-chorus and chorus. Another hint of harmonics and another verse, then the car revvs its engine, building into a punchy two-part bridge and a great guitar solo. A reprise of the pre-chorus riff rolls back into another round of verse through chorus, returning to the opening harmonics and some bass riffing for the denouement. Another superb track, 10/10.
  • YYZ - The band belts out the Toronto airport’s call sign in Morse code on all three instruments in succession, then a quick breakdown leads into the main “verse” groove. This cuts into a brighter two-part “pre-chorus”, then a tradeoff “chorus” with lots of variations and mini-solos on different instruments before breaking into an extended guitar solo punctuated with sounds of breaking glass. A descending guitar lead falls back into a slower synth-laden interlude. Another round of “verse” through “pre-chorus”, then a brief reprise of the Morse code intro wraps things up. An excellent instrumental, 9/10.
  • Limelight - A catchy riff gains some drum accents before breaking into a catchy groove. An excellent pair of verses gives way to a stellar chorus 1 and a great chorus 2. A variant pair of verses rolls back through chorus 1 and 2 before breaking into an extended calm guitar solo that finishes on a high crescendo, fading back into the choruses before a rhythmic outro and a big rock ending. Another jaw-droppingly great track. 10/10.
  • The Camera Eye - The sounds of the city herald the final 10+ minute epic in the band’s catalogue. A synth lead is joined by marching drums and guitar accents, eventually breaking into a heavier rhythm. This fades away into synth effects, then a new synth lead builds into a more uptempo groove. A brief odd-rhythm riff breaks into a bright verse. A return to the odd-rhythm riff and uptempo groove eventually leads into a pre-chorus 1 and 2 and a trailing vocal that I guess is the chorus. A brief interlude returns to the uptempo groove, then another round of verse through the pre-choruses. This cuts into a strong extended guitar solo before reprising pre-chorus 2 and the chorus, leading into a long, effect-laden outro. Great stuff, a robust 8/10.
  • Witch Hunt - Creepy effects slowly build into a slow verse groove with percussive accents. This breaks into a brighter feel for a solid pre-chorus and a rich, synth-laden chorus. Another verse and chorus lead into an extended instrumental outro. While this track is probably not a Chinese hoax, it is still a bit weaker than the ones preceding it. Sad! 7/10.
  • Vital Signs - A fast-paced synth lead is accompanied by sparse guitars and busy bass to underpin a solid verse. This breaks into a decent pre-chorus and a so-so reggae-influenced chorus. Another round of verse through chorus leads into a brief bass interlude, then some extended vocal chorus riffing to close things out. Definitely the weakest track on the album for me, but the music is good enough to round it up to a 7/10.
Average: 8.7/10
Weighted: 8.6/10

The first half of this album is just amazing, chock-full of stone cold classics — but then the quality starts to taper off a bit. I almost wish they’d left the last two tracks off the album to maintain its purity.

This album sees Lee’s synths promoted to a co-equal instrument in the band, a position they will remain in for most of the decade to come. Between this change and the shorter song lengths, some fans felt the band had started to sell out here, while others felt they were finally hitting their stride. You can put me firmly in the second camp.
 

Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Signals (1982)
  • Subdivisions - Pulsing warm synth pads flow back and forth between major and minor keys. This eventually rolls back around to support a great pair of melancholy verses before breaking into an excellent chorus 1 and 2. This flows into a great synth-led melodic interlude. Another round of verses and chorus 1 leads into another synth interlude, then a great guitar solo with prominent bass before returning for chorus 2 and an extended synth-led outro. Peart puts on a drum clinic throughout the entire track, constantly changing up his complex rhythms to great effect. Superb, 10/10.
  • The Analog Kid - An upbeat, busy guitar riff breaks into an equally upbeat bass riff to drive a peppy verse. This falls back into a more relaxed, catchy chorus bathed in synths. Another round of verse through chorus leads into an extended vocal bridge, then an aggressive guitar solo on top a strangely calm synth groove. A brief interlude and bridge reprise leads into an extended outro. Great stuff, a robust 8/10.
  • Chemistry - Big synths and a guitar foreshadow the chorus melody. A brief guitar solo falls back into a decent midtempo verse and synth-led pre-chorus, then a sparse chorus. A reprise of the guitar solo, then another round of verse through chorus and we get a great new guitar solo before a brief reprise of the chorus melody to end the song. Some great parts and some decent ones, 7/10 overall.
  • Digital Man - A drum fill breaks into a bright bass-driven groove. This falls into an OK verse with some cool bass/vocal interplay. A calmer feel supports a pretty good pre-chorus. Another round of verse and pre-chorus breaks into a so-so chorus. An interlude loosely based on the verse groove leads into a pretty good guitar solo with busy drums and synth support. Another round of pre-chorus and chorus fades away with some vocal riffing. A number of good elements here, but the relative weakness of the verses and chorus round this down to a 6/10.
  • The Weapon - A drum beat is joined by synth and plaintive guitar, folding into an OK verse and an awkward pre-chorus 1 and 2 before breaking into a much catchier multi-part chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then a calmer synth and drum interlude is eventually joined by a strong extended guitar solo. We return to a partial chorus, then an extended softer outro to close things down. Lots of great stuff in this song, but the verse and pre-choruses are a bit icky. Probably does just enough to round it up to a 7/10.
  • New World Man - A synth lead is joined by a calm groove for a strong verse and pre-chorus. Things are kicked up a notch for a heavier chorus 1 and 2. Another round of verse through choruses, then a brief interlude leads into a variant chorus 1 and chorus 2 before an abrupt fade-out. Consistently strong, but not quite great. 7/10.
  • Losing It - A melancholy synth lead breaks into an odd-rhythm verse and a minimal pre-chorus. A decent guitar lead rolls back into the verse and pre-chorus, then a so-so multi-part chorus. A cool atmospheric guitar solo with prominent drumming follows, which bleeds into a synth-driven interlude, then a melodic guitar lead. This returns to the final part of the chorus before quickly fading out. This feels a bit choppy and unfinished, but there’s probably enough value here to round it up to a 6/10.
  • Countdown - Engine noise and voiceover are buffeted by a pulsing synth rhythm and guitar accents. This leads into a solid verse. A brief build-up returns to the verse, then a brighter interlude breaks into an extended chorus. A catchy synth lead flows into another interlude, then more verses as engines and voiceover convey the image of a rocket launch. Another chorus returns to the catchy synth lead, which develops into a full-on synth solo, then an extended outro underneath more voiceover. Another strong track that doesn’t quite reach greatness. 7/10.
Average: 7.3/10
Weighted: 7.2/10

A slight stumble on an otherwise amazing roll for the band, Signals is merely a good album rather than a great one. “Subdivisions” is an all-time classic, but weaker elements pop up in most of the other tracks, including a couple of cases where tracks felt half-baked, or abruptly faded off instead of finishing organically.

Many people cite Signals as their favorite Rush album, and I’ve never really understood this point of view. It’s one of their most synth-heavy albums for sure, but the songwriting is much better on the albums surrounding it, IMO.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Ratings Out Of 10.
  1. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son - Iron Maiden- 83%
  2. Burn - Deep Purple - 79%
  3. Boston - Boston - 90%
  4. Snakebite EP - Whitesnake 74%
  5. Dreamboat Annie - Heart -71%
  6. The Game - Queen - 79%
  7. Little Queen - Heart - 76%
  8. Screaming For Vengeance - Judas Priest - 80%
  9. Cultosaurus Erectus - Blue Oyster Cult - 81%
  10. High N Dry - Def Leppard - 84%
  11. I Love Rock N Roll - Joan Jett - 65%
  12. 1987 - Whitesnake - 86%
  13. Foreigner - Foreigner - 81%
  14. Long Live Rock and Roll - Rainbow - 88%
  15. Sheer Heart Attack - Queen - 79%
  16. A Night At The Opera - Queen - 84%
  17. Living The Dream - Slash Ft Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators - 90%
  18. Resurrection - Michael Schenker Fest - 78%
  19. 4 - Foreigner - 87%
  20. Aerosmith - Aerosmith - 84%
  21. Ride The Lightning - Metallica - 84%
  22. Destroyer - Kiss - 77%
  23. Rubber Soul - The Beatles - 76%
  24. Slide It In - Whitesnake - 90%
  25. Escape - Journey - 85%
  26. Machine Head - Deep Purple - 84%
  27. The Mob Rules - Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell - 84%
  28. Slippery When Wet - Bon Jovi - 88%
  29. Rage For Order - Queensryche - 79%
  30. Come An' Get It - Whitesnake - 77%
  31. Turbo - Judas Priest - 83%
  32. Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd - 80%
  33. Powerage - AC/DC - 82%
  34. Halestorm - Halestorm - 77%
  35. Who's Next - The Who - 79%
  36. Damn The Torpedoes - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - 75%
  37. Out of The Blue - ELO - 76%
  38. Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow - Rainbow - 84%
  39. In Rock - Deep Purple - 84%
  40. Secret Treaties - Blue Oyster Cult - 81%
  41. The Verdict - Queensryche - 81%
  42. Rising - Rainbow - 93%
  43. Lights Out - UFO - 85%
  44. Moonglow - Avantasia - 80%
  45. Lovedrive - Scorpions - 98%
  46. The Strange Case of... - Halestorm - 90%
  47. Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin - 86%
  48. Vol 4. - Black Sabbath - 85%
  49. Second Skin - The Mayfield Four - 91%
  50. Rocks - Aerosmith - 80%
  51. Head Games - Foreigner - 83%
  52. Prequelle - Ghost - 87%
  53. From The Fires - Greta Van Fleet - 83%
  54. Phenomenon - UFO - 78%
  55. Departure - Journey - 77%
  56. Bat Out Of Hell - Meat Loaf - 95%
  57. Rust In Peace - Megadeth - 81%
  58. Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath - 94%
  59. Don't Look Back - Boston - 82%
  60. Virgin Killer - Scorpions - 84%
  61. Shout At The Devil - Motley Crue - 78%
  62. Pyromania - Def Leppard - 86%
  63. Double Vision - Foreigner - 82%
  64. Somewhere In Time - Iron Maiden - 93%
  65. Appetite For Destruction - Guns N' Roses - 92%
  66. Force It - UFO - 87%
  67. News Of The World - Queen - 81%
  68. Vicious - Halestorm - 85%
  69. Holy Diver - Dio - 89%
  70. No Heavy Petting - UFO - 79%
  71. One Day Remains - Alter Bridge - 91%
  72. British Steel - Judas Priest - 81%
  73. Rainier Fog - Alice In Chains - 84%
  74. Dehumanizer - Black Sabbath - 87%
  75. Reckless - Bryan Adams - 84%
  76. Lovehunter - Whitesnake - 86%
  77. Blackbird - Alter Bridge - 91%
  78. Girls Girls Girls - Motley Crue - 72%
  79. Master Of Reality - Black Sabbath - 85%
  80. GNR Lies - Guns N Roses - 86%
  81. Into The Wild Life - Halestorm - 75%
  82. AB III - Alter Bridge - 91%
  83. Obsession - UFO - 75%
  84. Fortress - Alter Bridge - 91%
  85. Paranoid - Black Sabbath - 86%
  86. Blackout - Scorpions - 94%
  87. The Book Of Souls - Iron Maiden - 91%
  88. Firepower - Judas Priest - 88%
  89. The Last Hero - Alter Bridge - 89%
  90. Back In Black - AC/DC - 85%
  91. Frontiers - Journey - 78%
  92. Fallen - Evanescence - 91%
  93. Use Your Illusion I - Guns N Roses - 86%
  94. Use Your Illusion II - Guns N Roses - 86%
  95. Third Stage - Boston - 82%
  96. Led Zeppelin III - Led Zeppelin - 85%
  97. The Number Of The Beast - Iron Maiden - 92%
  98. Operation: Mindcrime - Queensryche - 94%
  99. Let There Be Rock - AC/DC - 92%
  100. Love At First Sting - Scorpions - 90%
  101. Chinese Democracy - Guns N Roses - 82%
  102. Sad Wings Of Destiny - Judas Priest - 77%
  103. Perfect Strangers - Deep Purple - 86%
  104. Bon Jovi - Bon Jovi - 83%
  105. Meliora - Ghost - 81%
  106. Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden - 87%
  107. Last In Line - Dio - 81%
  108. Houses Of The Holy - Led Zeppelin - 93%
  109. Van Halen - Van Halen - 81%
  110. Painkiller - Judas Priest - 85%
  111. Perfect Timing - McAuley Schenker Group - 79%
  112. Too Fast For Love - Motley Crue - 76%
  113. ...And Justice For All - Metallica - 84%
  114. In Trance - Scorpions - 96%
  115. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin - 91%
  116. Killers - Iron Maiden - 82%
  117. Evanescence - Evanescence - 90%
  118. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath - 81%
  119. Toys In The Attic - Aerosmith - 81%
  120. Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather Judas Priest- 82%
  121. Highway To Hell - AC/DC - 90%
  122. Heaven Tonight - Cheap Trick - 82%
  123. Wheels Of Fire (In The Studio) - Cream - 78%
  124. Dirt - Alice In Chains - 86%
  125. Metal Health - Quiet Riot - 83%
  126. A Matter Of Life And Death - Iron Maiden - 94%
  127. Physical Graffiti - Led Zeppelin - 87%
  128. Dr. Feelgood - Motley Crue - 85%
  129. Skid Row - Skid Row - 81%
  130. Hysteria - Def Leppard - 90%
  131. The Works - Queen - 85%
  132. Trouble - Whitesnake - 75%
  133. Fly To The Rainbow - Scorpions - 84%
  134. New Jersey - Bon Jovi - 87%
  135. Strangers In The Night - UFO - 93%
  136. Carry Fire - Robert Plant - 78%
  137. The Metal Opera Part 1 - Avantasia - 82%
  138. Jar Of Flies - Alice In Chains - 84%
  139. Stained Class - Judas Priest - 83%
  140. Overkill - Motorhead - 78%
  141. A Farewell To Kings - Rush - 86%
  142. Animal Magnetism - Scorpions - 83%
  143. Piece Of Mind - Iron Maiden - 89%
  144. Coda - Led Zeppelin - 78%
  145. Nevermind - Nirvana - 85%
  146. Apocalyptic Love - Slash ft. Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators - 87%
  147. Fireball - Deep Purple - 79%
  148. On Through The Night - Def Leppard - 79%
  149. Powerslave - Iron Maiden - 93%
  150. Keep The Faith - Bon Jovi - 89%
  151. Hemispheres - Rush - 88%
  152. Revolution Radio - Green Day - 84%
  153. Taken By Force - Scorpions - 88%
  154. On Stage - Rainbow - 88%
  155. Sin After Sin - Judas Priest - 84%
  156. Presence - Led Zeppelin - 86%
  157. For Those About To Rock - AC/DC - 82%
  158. Ghostlights - Avantasia - 86%
  159. Distance Over Time - Dream Theater - 82%
  160. High Voltage - AC/DC - 74%
  161. Open Up And Say... Ah - Poison - 77%
  162. In Through The Out Door - Led Zeppelin - 80%
  163. World Wide Live - Scorpions - 95%
  164. Green River - Creedence Clearwater Revival - 82%
  165. Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin - 86%
  166. Anthem Of The Peaceful Army - Greta Van Fleet - 86%
  167. Dream Evil - Dio - 84%
  168. Ten - Pearl Jam - 86%
  169. No Prayer For The Dying - Iron Maiden - 83%
  170. 2112 - Rush - 92%
  171. Defenders Of The Faith - Judas Priest - 81%
  172. Year Of The Tiger - Myles Kennedy - 85%
  173. The Headless Children - W.A.S.P. - 90%
  174. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Black Sabbath - 82%
  175. Quadraphenia - The Who - 88%
  176. World On Fire - Slash Ft Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators - 89%
  177. Lonesome Crow - Scorpions - 75%
  178. The Song Remains The Same - Led Zeppelin - 86%
  179. Tokyo Tapes - Scorpions - 91%
  180. Moving Pictures - Rush - 83%
  181. These Days - Bon Jovi - 79%
  182. The Metal Opera Part II - Avantasia - 80%
  183. Live After Death - Iron Maiden - 97%
  184. Animals - Pink Floyd - 77%
  185. The Principle Of Moments - Robert Plant - 77%
  186. Ready An' Willing - Whitesnake - 81%
  187. Live Evil - Black Sabbath - 87%
  188. Bat Out Of Hell II: Back To Hell - Meat Loaf - 85%
  189. Empire - Queensryche - 87%
  190. Welcome To My Nightmare - Alice Cooper - 81%
  191. Slip Of The Tongue - Whitesnake - 81%
  192. The Crimson Idol - W.A.S.P. - 92%
  193. Light Me Up - The Pretty Reckless - 77%
  194. The Devil You Know - Heaven And Hell - 86%
  195. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC - 77%
  196. Hollywood Vampires - Hollywood Vampires - 80%
  197. Tommy - The Who - 83%
  198. If You Want Blood - AC/DC -87%
  199. Slash - Slash - 86%
  200. Brave New World - Iron Maiden - 90%
  201. M.S.G - McAuley Schenker Group - 79%
  202. Saints An' Sinners - Whitesnake - 80%
  203. The Open Door - Evanescence - 81%
  204. A Dying Machine - Tremonti - 81%
  205. Pump - Aerosmith - 83%
  206. Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones - 76%
  207. The Razors Edge - AC/DC - 75%
  208. Queensryche (EP) - Queensryche - 93%
  209. '74 Jailbreak - AC/DC - 79%
  210. The Dance Of Death - Iron Maiden - 85%
  211. 1984 - Van Halen - 76%
  212. W.A.S.P. - W.A.S.P. - 86%
  213. The Great War - Sabaton - 83%
  214. Killer - Alice Cooper - 76%
  215. Facelift - Alice In Chains - 82%
  216. Humanity: Hour 1 - Scorpions - 83%
  217. A Day At The Races - Queen - 79%
  218. Blizzard Of Ozz - Ozzy Osbourne - 81%
  219. Live At Royal Albert Hall - Alter Bridge - 96%
  220. Savage Amusement - Scorpions - 79%
  221. The Last Command - W.A.S.P. - 80%
  222. 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit - Bon Jovi - 85%
  223. Sacred Heart - Dio - 78%
  224. Permanent Waves - Rush - 84%
  225. Cuts Like A Knife - Bryan Adams - 79%
  226. Desolation Boulevard - Sweet - 84%
  227. Unleashed In The East - Judas Priest - 89%
  228. Down To Earth - Rainbow - 79%
  229. Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones - 79%
  230. The Final Frontier - Iron Maiden - 83%
  231. Permanent Vacation - Aerosmith - 83%
  232. Breakfast In America - Supertramp - 75%
  233. Slave To The Grind - Skid Row - 85%
  234. Redeemer Of Souls - Judas Priest - 78%
  235. Golgotha - W.A.S.P. - 90%
  236. Infesstissumam - Ghost - 67%
  237. Balls To Picasso - Bruce Dickinson - 79%
  238. Return To Forever - Scorpions - 85%
  239. Lost Whispers - Evanescence - 78%
  240. Neon Knights: 30 Years Of Heaven And Hell - Heaven And Hell - 94%
  241. Save Yourself - McAuley Schenker Group - 81%
  242. Daughtry - Daughtry - 81%
  243. Flight 666 - Iron Maiden - 96%
  244. Rocka Rolla - Judas Priest - 70%
  245. Theatre Of Pain - Motley Crue - 75%
  246. The Cars - The Cars - 71%
  247. The Wicked Symphony - Avantasia - 84%
  248. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars - David Bowie - 78%
  249. Live At Hammersmith - Whitesnake - 83%
  250. Queen - Queen - 86%
  251. Sting In The Tail - Scorpions - 80%
  252. The Sound Of Madness - Shinedown - 77%
  253. Live At Ritz - Guns N Roses - 95%
  254. Inside The Electric Circus - 82%
  255. Surviving The North - Grizzlyhawk - 76%
  256. Fear Of The Dark - Iron Maiden - 80%
  257. Point Of Entry - Judas Priest - 82%
  258. Queen II - Queen - 78%
  259. Stay Hungry - Twisted Sister - 75%
  260. Contraband - Velvet Revolver - 83%
  261. The Warning - Queensryche - 87%
  262. Metallica - Metallica - 83%
  263. Jazz - Queen - 81%
  264. Walk The Sky - Alter Bridge - 91%
  265. The Chemical Wedding - Bruce Dickinson - 87%
  266. Fly By Night - Rush - 82%
  267. Adrenalize - Def Leppard - 77%
  268. Live Killers - Queen - 90%
  269. Night Songs - Cinderella - 78%
  270. Angel Of Retribution - Judas Priest - 87%
  271. Rush - Rush - 80%
  272. Live At Leeds - The Who - 80%
  273. Dying For The World - W.A.S.P. - 83%
  274. Pure Instinct - Scorpions - 78%
  275. Caress Of Steel - Rush - 75%
  276. Dookie - Green Day - 77%
  277. Rock Or Bust - AC/DC - 71%
  278. A Kind Of Magic - Queen - 83%
  279. The Scarecrow - Avantasia - 80%
  280. Crazy World - Scorpions - 86%
  281. Forevermore - Whitesnake - 76%
  282. Long Cold Winter - Cinderella - 82%
  283. Draw The Line - Aerosmith -77%
  284. Straight Between The Eyes - Rainbow - 82%
  285. Spectres - Blue Oyster Cult - 76%
  286. Maiden England 88' - Iron Maiden - 94%
  287. Made In Japan - Deep Purple - 90%
  288. Strange Highways - Dio - 86%
  289. Ram It Down - Judas Priest - 84%
  290. Condition Human - Queensryche - 77%
  291. Innuendo - Queen - 83%
  292. Virtual XI - Iron Maiden - 80%
  293. Unbreakable - Scorpions - 77%
  294. Master Of Puppets - Metallica - 91%
  295. AC/DC Live! - AC/DC - 92%
  296. Face The Heat - Scorpions - 81%
  297. Going To Hell - The Pretty Reckless - 79%
  298. Meanwhile In Burbank - Stone Sour - 92%
  299. Priest... Live! - Judas Priest - 88%
  300. The X Factor - Iron Maiden - 78%
  301. Live At The Rainbow '74 The Queen II Tour - Queen - 93%
  302. Hotel California - Eagles - 82%
  303. The Mystery Of Time - Avantasia - 86%
  304. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John - 84%
  305. The Miracle - Queen - 77%
  306. Acoustica - Scorpions - 91%
  307. True Rockers - Monster Truck - 78%
  308. B Sides + Rarities - Alter Bridge - 78%
  309. Fly On The Wall - AC/DC - 79%
  310. Meanwhile In Paris - Streetheart - 82%
  311. Rock In Rio - Iron Maiden - 98%
  312. Dairy Of A Madman - Ozzy Osbourne - 84%
  313. Zeno - Zeno Roth - 83%
  314. Kill 'Em All - Metallica - 73%
  315. Promised Land - Queensryche - 79%
  316. Live At Rainbow '74 The Sheer Heart Attack Tour - 89%
  317. Come What(ever) May - Stone Sour - 87%
  318. The Purple Album - Whitesnake - 85%
  319. ReIdolized (The Soundtrack Of The Crimson Idol) - W.A.S.P. - 92%
  320. Billion Dollar Babies - Alice Cooper - 89%
  321. Temple Of The Dog - Temple Of The Dog - 92%
  322. Lock Up The Wolves - Dio - 86%
  323. Black Gives Way To Blue - Alice In Chains - 81%
  324. Audio Secrecy - Stone Sour - 85%
  325. Rumours - Fleetwood Mac - 85%
  326. Live In The Heart Of The City - Whitesnake - 85%
  327. Love At First Sting: Live At Madison Square Garden - Scorpions - 97%
  328. Blackstar - David Bowie - 76%
  329. Death On The Road - Iron Maiden - 90%
  330. Black Ice - AC/DC - 77%
  331. Live In Tokyo 1984 - Queensryche - 92%
  332. The Spaghetti Incident - Guns N Roses - 77%
  333. Clockwork Angels - Rush - 93%
  334. Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory - Dream Theater - 96%
  335. Kiss - Kiss - 83%
  336. The Devil Put The Dinosaurs Here - Alice In Chains - 86%
  337. Born In The USA - Bruce Springsteen - 77%
  338. A Night At The Odeon - Queen - 91%
  339. All The Worlds A Stage - Rush - 90%
  340. Dressed To Kill - Kiss - 80%
  341. Maiden Japan - Iron Maiden - 88%
  342. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd - 89%
  343. Mechanical Resonance - Tesla - 82%
  344. American Idiot - Green Day - 83%
  345. MTV Unplugged In Athens - Scorpions - 85%
  346. The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter - Iron Maiden - 96%
  347. Finding The Sacred Heart - Dio - 85%
  348. Alice In Chains - Alice In Chains - 77%
  349. inFinite - Deep Purple - 83%
  350. Flesh And Blood - Whitesnake - 77%
  351. Live At O2 - Alter Bridge - 95%
  352. 13 - Black Sabbath - 78%
  353. Live Era '87-'93 - Guns N Roses - 91%
  354. Feedback - Rush - 85%
  355. Unplugged - Alice In Chains - 87%
  356. The Neon God: Part 1 - The Rise - W.A.S.P. - 89%
  357. The Neon God: Part 2 - The Demise - W.A.S.P. - 86%
  358. Living The Dream Tour - Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators - 94%
  359. Live In Munich - Rainbow - 91%
  360. The Wall - Pink Floyd - 87%
  361. Audioslave - Audioslave - 81%
  362. Crimson Glory - Crimson Glory - 90%
  363. En Vivo - Iron Maiden - 95%
  364. Images And Words - Dream Theater - 95%
  365. Celebration Day - Led Zeppelin - 95%
  366. A Change Of Seasons - Dream Theater - 92%
  367. Train Of Thought - Dream Theater - 90%
  368. Awake - Dream Theater - 89%
  369. Black Clouds And Silver Linings - Dream Theater - 93%
  370. Octavarium - Dream Theater - 90%
  371. Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence - Dream Theater - 88%
  372. Systematic Chaos - Dream Theater - 91%
  373. Ordinary Man - Ozzy Osbourne - 81%
  374. Falling Into Infinity - Dream Theater - 82%
  375. A Dramatic Turn Of Events - Dream Theater - 92%
  376. Dream Theater - Dream Theater - 85%
  377. Psychotic Symphony - Sons Of Apollo - 83%
  378. Vicious (Stripped) - Halestorm - 87%
  379. MMXX - Sons Of Apollo - 85%
  380. Let It Bleed - The Rolling Stones - 82%
  381. Dominator - W.A.S.P. - 87%
  382. The Dark Saga - Iced Earth - 84%
  383. Helldorado - W.A.S.P. - 75%
  384. Accident Of Birth - Bruce Dickinson - 87%
  385. Out Of The Cellar - Ratt - 77%
  386. Angel Of Babylon - Avantasia - 85%
  387. Bebe Le Strange - Heart -81%
  388. Master Of The Moon - Dio - 77%
  389. Dog & Butterfly - Heart - 86%
  390. Superunknown - Soundgarden -84%
  391. Presto - Rush - 82%
  392. Eye II Eye - Scorpions - 69%
  393. Nostradamus - Judas Priest - 76%
  394. Roll The Bones - Rush - 78%
  395. Private Audition - Heart - 75%
  396. When Dream And Day Unite - Dream Theater -79%
  397. Killing The Dragon - Dio - 82%
  398. Headless Cross - Black Sabbath - 93%
  399. Vapor Trails Remixed - Rush - 79%
  400. How The West Was Won - Led Zeppelin - 88%
  401. Peace Sells... But Who's Buying - Megadeth - 79%
  402. Never Say Die! - Black Sabbath - 77%
  403. Passionworks - Heart - 79%
  404. Seventh Star - Black Sabbath - 89%
  405. Heart - Heart - 78%
  406. Exit... Stage Left - Rush - 90%
  407. Black And Blue - The Rolling Stones - 78%
  408. Tooth And Nail - Dokken - 88%
  409. Technical Ecstasy - Black Sabbath - 83%
  410. Born Again - Black Sabbath - 88%
  411. Counterparts - Rush - 79%
  412. Whoosh! - Deep Purple - 82%
  413. Transcendance - Crimson Glory - 92%
  414. Sap - Alice In Chains - 80%
  415. Snakes & Arrows - Rush - 83%
  416. ReImagined - Halestorm - 86%
  417. Test For Echo - Rush - 72%
  418. Babylon - W.A.S.P. - 88%
  419. Hold Your Fire - Rush - 80%
  420. The Yes Album - Yes - 88%
  421. Grace Under Pressure - Rush - 80%
  422. Relayer - Yes - 97%
  423. Signals - Rush - 82%
  424. Breaking The Chains - Dokken - 79%
  425. Power Windows - Rush - 87%
Out Of 5:
  1. Close To The Edge - Yes - 97%
  2. Difficult To Cure - Rainbow - 83%
  3. The Eternal Idol - Black Sabbath - 89%
  4. Stranger In Us All - Rainbow - 79%
  5. Assault Attack - Michael Schenker Group - 91%
  6. Sabotage - Black Sabbath - 85%
  7. 90125 - Yes - 83%
  8. Unholy Terror - W.A.S.P. - 84%
  9. Fragile - Yes - 87%
  10. The Astonishing - Dream Theater - 60%
  11. Bent Out Of Shape - Rainbow - 83%
  12. Flick Of The Switch - AC/DC - 74%
  13. Tales From Topographic Oceans - Yes - 85%
  14. The Revolution By Night - Blue Oyster Cult - 78%
  15. Under Lock And Key - Dokken - 89%
  16. Ressurection - Halford - 86%
  17. Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I - Helloween - 89%
  18. Madman Across The Water - Elton John - 90%
  19. The Ferrymen - The Ferrymen - 80%
  20. Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II - Helloween - 92%
  21. Bad Animals - Heart - 68%
  22. Yes - Yes - 80%
  23. Kiss Alive! - Kiss - 86%
  24. Time And A Word - Yes - 75%
  25. Fire Of Unknown Origin - Blue Oyster Cult - 73%
  26. War Of Words - Fight - 74%
  27. Stormbringer - Deep Purple - 89%
  28. Walk The Sky 2.0 - Alter Bridge - 82%
  29. Eliminator - ZZ Top - 80%
  30. Ballbreaker - AC/DC - 77%
  31. Power Up - AC/DC - 77%

 
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The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Train Of Thought - Dream Theater
Format: CD/Digital

Album number 7 from Dream Theater opens with a sledge hammer riff from a song called As I Am, lyrically the message is very clear, don't try to change me and accept me for who I am. Thundering and dark the track sets the tone from the start. Petrucci delviers some absolutely incredible guitar work throughout the track. Portnoy's drums are immense and James vocally delivers a dark and grittier approach than I'm familliar with thus far, it works. Not quite a perfect track but darn near close. This Dying Soul is a portion of what I have read to be the twelve part suit containing parts 4 and 5. The band wastes no time letting it become very clear that this section will continue down the darker path which As I Am started with, but holy shit are those guitar harmonies from Petrucci beautiful right off the bat. The first of 5 tracks surpassing the 10 minute mark on the album. James begins to sing in a more familliar way than the previous track and while he sounds great he is overshadowed by the absolutely amazing guitar and keyboard harmonies soaring behind him. The more distorted vocals which appear throughout the track are a little unrequired for my enjoyment but they do further the message of this twelve part suite so I guess. The chorus is powerful and emotive, the second half of the track pertains to the 5th step, is subtitled Release, it takes on a more growling style of vocals which once again both works and doesn't at the same time. Musically a dark and heavy track throughout with some killer harmonies popping up and a killer outro solo section. Endless Sacrifice comes in solemn, a soft vocal delivers a haunting message throughout the opening verse before doubling down on the heaviness as the chorus comes in with some symphonic elements backing the band, the second verse shifts back to the more calm and solemn tone. The second chorus feels more fitting than the first despite also being an upbeat delivery. The extended solo section is well done by the crew and does a good job letting each member have a chance to shine. At the 8:20ish mark there is some brutal guitar work from Petrucci which I feel does a great job signalling the beginning of a transition back into having verses in the nearish future. Honor Thy Father opens up with a brutal drum introduction from Portnoy with some strong heavy bass work added in by Myung. The song shifts once James comes in slowing down a fair but and the band really backs off for the first verse but lays out some killer connective work. That less than stellar rap style vocal delivery returns here and it just seems so out of place. Thankfully it is used far less in this track, which is for its benefit. Incredible instrumnetally once again, the band is able to remain engaging for these extended tracks throughout, the spoken word section adds some different elements to the track, I wonder if they would have that section as playback when performing live or if James would just speak the words. Rudess and Petrucci compliment eachother quite well throughout their keyboards and guitar spiraling together captivating the listener. An interesting song to say the least and another one that just falls short of perfection. Vacant is a very big change from the previous tracks in that it is one third the length of the closest track in terms of length and roughly one quarter that of most of the other tracks. Opening with some piano and violin? James sings softly and the track feels is a nice switch up from the previous heavy rockers while still being a fairly decent listen, but it does feel a little like a segue and not a fully formed track. Stream Of Conciousness comes up next, continuing from the outro of Vacant the track is an instrumental spanning just over 11 minutes in length, it soon establishes that it won't be a calmly building track shifting quite dramatically much like ones stream of conciousness does when they wake up. Petrucci delivers some really nice and catchy guitar work right off the start of the album. Rudess' keyboards take a little longer to really get going on this one but once they join in they compliment the rest of the band quite nicely. The breakdown from Petrucci at the 3:50 mark is amazing and should go on for longer than it does. The track does feel a little too long, around the 7 minute mark I started to get a little tuned out but it does shift shortly thereafter and my attention was pulled back into the track a bit more. As a whole a really good instrumental which probably could have been a whole lot better if it was split or had some vocals. In The Name Of God closes out the album a 14 minute track to end it all off, starting slow it also doesn't waste much time with a build up, Perucci, Myung, Portnoy just come in thundering together with a nice groove filled riff as they launch into the albums final track. Some very challenging lyrical points are made, a very clear overlap between our beloved For The Greater Good Of God in that regards. James draws out some words in a way which really adds emphasis to them in a rather powerful and positive way. Myung is given a time to shine taking a bit of an extended solo section his bass thundering while Rudess plays some soft keys. Another lengthy instrumental section continues to let hte band shine. James delivers some pretty strong vocals throughout the track although he isn't as impressive as some of the bands earlier work. Another nearly perfect track.

As I Am - 9.5/10
This Dying Soul - 8/10
Endless Sacrifice - 9.5/10
Honor Thy Father - 9.5/10
Vacant - 8/10
Stream Of Conciousness - 8.5/10
In The Name Of God - 9.5/10

Overall 89%
Adjusted 90%
4 Stars


While it doesn't have any songs that blew me away like Metropolis, Home or A Change Of Seasons this album does a great job throughout, heavy and a natural sounding progression from their earlier work.
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too

Train Of Thought - Dream Theater
Format: CD/Digital

Album number 7 from Dream Theater opens with a sledge hammer riff from a song called As I Am, lyrically the message is very clear, don't try to change me and accept me for who I am. Thundering and dark the track sets the tone from the start. Petrucci delviers some absolutely incredible guitar work throughout the track. Portnoy's drums are immense and James vocally delivers a dark and grittier approach than I'm familliar with thus far, it works. Not quite a perfect track but darn near close. This Dying Soul is a portion of what I have read to be the twelve part suit containing parts 4 and 5. The band wastes no time letting it become very clear that this section will continue down the darker path which As I Am started with, but holy shit are those guitar harmonies from Petrucci beautiful right off the bat. The first of 5 tracks surpassing the 10 minute mark on the album. James begins to sing in a more familliar way than the previous track and while he sounds great he is overshadowed by the absolutely amazing guitar and keyboard harmonies soaring behind him. The more distorted vocals which appear throughout the track are a little unrequired for my enjoyment but they do further the message of this twelve part suite so I guess. The chorus is powerful and emotive, the second half of the track pertains to the 5th step, is subtitled Release, it takes on a more growling style of vocals which once again both works and doesn't at the same time. Musically a dark and heavy track throughout with some killer harmonies popping up and a killer outro solo section. Endless Sacrifice comes in solemn, a soft vocal delivers a haunting message throughout the opening verse before doubling down on the heaviness as the chorus comes in with some symphonic elements backing the band, the second verse shifts back to the more calm and solemn tone. The second chorus feels more fitting than the first despite also being an upbeat delivery. The extended solo section is well done by the crew and does a good job letting each member have a chance to shine. At the 8:20ish mark there is some brutal guitar work from Petrucci which I feel does a great job signalling the beginning of a transition back into having verses in the nearish future. Honor Thy Father opens up with a brutal drum introduction from Portnoy with some strong heavy bass work added in by Myung. The song shifts once James comes in slowing down a fair but and the band really backs off for the first verse but lays out some killer connective work. That less than stellar rap style vocal delivery returns here and it just seems so out of place. Thankfully it is used far less in this track, which is for its benefit. Incredible instrumnetally once again, the band is able to remain engaging for these extended tracks throughout, the spoken word section adds some different elements to the track, I wonder if they would have that section as playback when performing live or if James would just speak the words. Rudess and Petrucci compliment eachother quite well throughout their keyboards and guitar spiraling together captivating the listener. An interesting song to say the least and another one that just falls short of perfection. Vacant is a very big change from the previous tracks in that it is one third the length of the closest track in terms of length and roughly one quarter that of most of the other tracks. Opening with some piano and violin? James sings softly and the track feels is a nice switch up from the previous heavy rockers while still being a fairly decent listen, but it does feel a little like a segue and not a fully formed track. Stream Of Conciousness comes up next, continuing from the outro of Vacant the track is an instrumental spanning just over 11 minutes in length, it soon establishes that it won't be a calmly building track shifting quite dramatically much like ones stream of conciousness does when they wake up. Petrucci delivers some really nice and catchy guitar work right off the start of the album. Rudess' keyboards take a little longer to really get going on this one but once they join in they compliment the rest of the band quite nicely. The breakdown from Petrucci at the 3:50 mark is amazing and should go on for longer than it does. The track does feel a little too long, around the 7 minute mark I started to get a little tuned out but it does shift shortly thereafter and my attention was pulled back into the track a bit more. As a whole a really good instrumental which probably could have been a whole lot better if it was split or had some vocals. In The Name Of God closes out the album a 14 minute track to end it all off, starting slow it also doesn't waste much time with a build up, Perucci, Myung, Portnoy just come in thundering together with a nice groove filled riff as they launch into the albums final track. Some very challenging lyrical points are made, a very clear overlap between our beloved For The Greater Good Of God in that regards. James draws out some words in a way which really adds emphasis to them in a rather powerful and positive way. Myung is given a time to shine taking a bit of an extended solo section his bass thundering while Rudess plays some soft keys. Another lengthy instrumental section continues to let hte band shine. James delivers some pretty strong vocals throughout the track although he isn't as impressive as some of the bands earlier work. Another nearly perfect track.

As I Am - 9.5/10
This Dying Soul - 8/10
Endless Sacrifice - 9.5/10
Honor Thy Father - 9.5/10
Vacant - 8/10
Stream Of Conciousness - 8.5/10
In The Name Of God - 9.5/10

Overall 89%
Adjusted 90%
4 Stars


While it doesn't have any songs that blew me away like Metropolis, Home or A Change Of Seasons this album does a great job throughout, heavy and a natural sounding progression from their earlier work.
This is my favorite Dream Theater album, I'm glad that you didn't smash it to the ground like some others do.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
This is my favorite Dream Theater album, I'm glad that you didn't smash it to the ground like some others do.

It has some really strong and interesting parts, and honestly for me is just missing a little something to push about half the songs into the stratosphere. I suspect Endless Sacrifice will end up being the first to fully click, although As I Am is a track which I have had in my playlist since I got the albums a month or so ago. Going to try to get through another album or two this week since my workload has been dropping as of late


EDIT: Moving this here instead of having it as part of the archive post.



A Change Of Seasons - Dream Theater
Format: CD/Digital

Released inbetween the bands third and fourth studio album comes an EP called A Change Of Seasons, the mini-album is nearly twice the length of your typical AC/DC album and features only a single new track while the remaining 4 are live covers ranging from Elton John to Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. The Title track opens up, and it is clear from the start that we are in for a bit of a trip. Shifting from acoustic to more electric on the opening instrumental component of this seven part track. Furious keyboard work is present from newcomer to the band Derek Sherinian. While Portnoy and Petrucci deliver some great performances early on. James comes in around the 4 minute mark singing softly his voice full of power as they transtion fully into part two Innocence. James' really reaches upwards throughout this section. And his vocals don't falter one bit as he does so. Each component of the song works really well individually as the song changes adding different context and feelings to it without becoming disjointed at any point. Individually I'm sure these 7 short tracks could be forgettable but together they truly come together into something bigger. Part 4 The darkest winter's introductory portion has some really strong guitar and keyboard harmonies happening before taking a darker turn then returning with a keyboard centered solo component. This section continues towards this darker and heavier apporach. It is phenomenal and doesn't feel like it is only 3 minutes in length. James returns and once again his singing is some of the best I have heard from him in my brief look into Dream Theater. Somehow he is singing softly but with so much force behind every word. Incredibly emotive. Another World is impeccable and brilliant, adding anger to the mix the song has really been going through the different emotions one feels through dealing with loss and in a very natural manner. A masterpiece start to finish.

The covers component of the EP begins with Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding by Elton John. The progressive piano based track follows its original formula, with the instrumental opening being incredibly symphonic, the raw emotion from Funeral For A Friend is present and the track is taken to a heavier realm as one would expect based on Dream Theater covering it. They took on a work of art, put their own spin on it while keeping it very close to the original. The sped up segment roughly half way through is powerful, energetic and heavy as James comes in singing with pure conviction. His vocals powerful and upbeat, sounding not too far off from Elton to my ears at least, which still being distinctly different from the Rocket Man. I was hesitant as to what to expect, seeing as the song is so very different from Dream Theater's style in terms of the tone of such a song however they nailed it, an incredible cover. The second cover track is the title track from Deep Purple's comeback album Perfect Strangers a much more natural feeling cover from a choice perspective. Derek's keyboards introduce the mid 80s rock mini-epic wonderfully. James sounds great on the high notes but something just feels a little off in terms of his delivery, I think it might be my familliarity with the original version of the track and Ian Gillan's amazing performance on that rendition. But yea his delivery of the chorus is bit weaker than the original. Portnoy pounds the drums in a way which would make Ian Paice proud and Pertrucci delivers those Blackmore riffs wonderfully. Musically a pretty darn strong cover but James just doesn't fit the song for me, although it is still quite the enjoyable listen. The Led Zeppelin Medley is up next, opening with my dads favourite Zeppelin track in The Rover, opening up in a way which honestly doesn't sound like a live recording the track thunders and very quickly segues into Achilles Last Stand another roaring track from the British Supergroup. James sings in a way that is quite reminiscent of Plant his voice soft and powerful once again. Myung's bass is quite prominent in this section and is quite notable in keeping the driving pace going strong. The song does eventually segue into the third component of the medley being the opener from Houses Of The Holy, The Song Remains The Same. As a whole the medley feels a little disjointed in terms of song selection and I think Dream Theater could have done any of the three songs justice had they done them in full but the medley is still quite fun. Another medley finish off the set, opening with In The Flesh? From The Wall building up symphonic and moody the track sets the stage based on the other tracks included in the medley for quite the spectacle assuming they figure out some smooth transitions inbetween. Carry On My Wayward Son comes up next starting with the breakdown after the opening chrous having been skipped, which based on how they handled the previous portion is probably the correct way to segue. The guitar tone is phenomenal from Petrucci. Opting to only cover the instrumental section the band segues into Bohemian Rhapsody's solo section and bridge, which James honestly sounds weak on, an incredibly hard section to cover and he falls short and the band transitions into Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin by Journey. James delivers vocally here sounding much more comfortable with the track. The band then transitions into the final two sections of the medley neither of which I'm familliar with but the band does a fairly good job with them.

A Change Of Seasons - 10/10
Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding - 10/10
Perfect Strangers - 8/10
The Rover/Achilles Last Stand/The Song Remains The Same - 8/10
The Big Medley -8.5/10

Overall 89%
Adjusted 92%
4.5 Stars


That title track is amazing
 
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The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Awake - Dream Theater
Format: CD/Digital

Awake opens up with 6:00 which begins with a drum centric opening before some half spoken half sung vocals come in talking about Christmas morning. Myung does some excellent bass work on this track putting a whole lot of groove into the track. James begins to sing more recognizably a fair bit into the track and does a pretty solid job here. An angrier approach is taken on the track and while it has some pretty good moments throughout between some keyboard and guitar harmonies the track doesn't really blow me away right off the start. Caught In A Web continues the this heavier and darker approach but James sings in a way which is more uplifting than prior and feels more fitting as a whole than the previous track, and a definete step in the right direction if you ask me. The instrumental section is pretty decent and James comes in full of rage off of it and that chorus is quite powerful following it as well. Still not amazing but better. Innocence Faded opens up with some great guitar work slowing down and James sings softly and Petrucci makes his guitar sing throughout this track and James reaches for the stars at various points vocally. Vocal harmonies are pretty good as well. Portnoy has some times to shine throughout as well putting in some nice fills between the vocals. A rather strong track as a whole and one I will be revisiting. Erotomania comes up next the first segment of the three part A Mind Beside Itself. A complex instrumental piece which once again highlights both Petrucci and Moore in their respective instruments with Portnoy and Myung rounding out the bottom half and keeping the groove going strong. Another impressive instrumental piece, clearly I've been hearing the wrong instrumentals in my listening because thus far Dream Theater has delivered some stellar ones I guess I have to give The Dance Of Eternity another chance sooner than later. Not too long and engaging Erotomania segues into Voices in a smooth fashion. Coming in hard and heavy it quickly calms down for the verse and James sings in a haunting manner, so soft and full of sorrow. He soon shifts his style to a louder and more powerful approach. The spoken segment feels fairly fitting within the track and the band grows more aggresssive throughout it before backing right off and becoming almost tranquil in a sense. The withdrawn and introverted line hits like a truck and really drives home the message being said throughout the suite. The final segment of it The Silent Man comes closes it all off acoustically from the start James' voice is front and center here. A complete shift from what I was expecting for the suite closer and it is a beautiful track. Amazing emotional and concise. The Mirror shifts right back into a heavier approach, the sole track written by Portnoy on the album. A lower vocal delivery is done by James on this track, adding a feeling of anger to the track, some passages from movies are present in this track, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons being some of the featured proffesionals. Lie segues in from The Mirror perfectly and continues with the musical themes set forth in the previous track, a very clear message is being delivered in this chorus, while I suspect it falls towards relationships it really could speak to fake friendships as well. Petrucci absolutely shredds away in a short solo section before the chorus comes back again, this one could be a grower. Lifting Shadows Off A Dream opens with a keyboard centric introduction, a more uplifting feeling track, not nearly as dark as the previous tracks have been. A brilliant song lyrically and James delivers an amazing vocal performance throughout. Powerful and uplifting. Scarred is the longest track on the album clocking in just under 11 minutes in length. It continues on the lighter feeling at first with more elegant vocal delivery from James before getting a little heavier while maintaining the powerful vocal delivery. Portnoy thunders behind this all. Another prime example of brilliant lyrical choices from the band. Space Dye Vest closes out the album, opening up a slow piano based track, more film segments are present here. James sings in his haunting style from earlier but even more emphasized here than it was before. A smart choice in album closer, very unique and a different form of darkness is present here from the dark and heavy approach from earlier instead a haunting close to a dark album.

6:00 - 7.5/10
Caught In A Web - 8/10
Innocence Faded - 9/10
I. Erotomania - 8/10
II. Voices - 9.5/10
III. The Silent Man - 10/10
The Mirror - 8/10
Lie - 8.5/10
Lifting Shadows Off A Dream - 10/10
Scarred - 10/10
Space Dye Vest - 9/10

Overall 88%
Adjusted 89%
4 Stars


A rockier start to this album but that back half was incredibly strong
 
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