Random album reviews

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner
Tai Shan is such a beautiful song.
Hold Your Fire was my alltime favorite Rush album a few decades ago, now it´s around 5 or 6.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
As I begin to finish up Rush, I figure I should begin another more progressive band...


The Yes Album - Yes
Format: CD/Digital

Rush's major influencers Yes released their third album The Yes Album in 1971, the first of two albums released that year from the british progressive rockers. Released on my birthday, although many years prior to me being born. The album like many Yes albums is full of longer and progressive tracks, this one features two tracks which are suites of other tracks compiled together. Yours Is No Disgrace opens up the album, the albums longest track and from the get go the bass and drum work are in the forefront, the keyboards and guitars soon have their time to shine as well. The vocals feature lead singer Jon Anderson along with the rest of the band on backing vocals from the start, from the Yes tracks I've heard thus far I'm not always sold on his vocals, but not in a way of dislike more in a just not quite hitting the spot. The musicianship however of Yes is where I find they shine, the track has very theatrical feel to it and it definetely fits the catagorization of progressive rock and art rock. With long drawn out instrumental passages the track is quite a pleasent one, and despite the track being one long singular composition it has distinct different movements throughout the track. The Clap is an instrumental piece, given how the bands songs have so much room for instrumental passages I wonder why they would put an instrumental on the album but here we are, an acoustic guitar piece which is one third of the length of the previous track, it does a good job filling time on this side of the record, sandwiched between two longer tracks, it is enjoyable but I don't really see the point of it being on the album. Starship Trooper the first of the albums two suites, this one is in three sections. This track features some stellar vocals from Jon Anderson, his lighter tone and ethereal delivery makes the track have a really mystical feel to it, based on the book of the same name. The track feels like it would be a trip, very atmospheric with various different musical elements. I think Jon should be higher in the mix but wow is this track phenomenal. The three components fit together nicely and the first third of the track works incredibly well as a single for the album. One minor grip is I feel a reprise of the chorus would have fit really well at the end of the song.

I've Seen All Good People, once again is multiple tracks put together, the first of which subtitled Your Move features tons of chess analogies a game which I love and the themes of the track fit in really well with these analogies. The intro is a little much, but it makes for the connection between the two segments of the track, the track is mostly acoustic for the Your Move component, another single from the album it remains incredibly pleasent throughout. The album doesn't feel like it has been over twenty minutes of listening the tracks don't feel their length and they are all easy to listen to thus far. While the first half of the track is pretty darn great, the back half's lyrics are quite repetiative, musically it is good, but there could have been some changes in the lyrics to fit along with this upbeat and fun component of the track. It feels like a continuation of the previous component but is a lot more different from it than the components of Starship Trooper were from eachother. A Venture fades in with some keyboards, the track is a fable probably the weakest track thus far on the album, it is pleasent but doesn't feel like a track worth revisiting. Perpetual Change closes out the album, another 9 minute track, opening with a solo section, the verses are slow with minimal accompanyment. I don't know why but the second verse has a Sweet Caroline feel to it. A really mellow track for the most part with some highs and lows in terms of energy level, the instrumental segment starting around the five and half minute mark is pretty great and the energy stays with that into the next verse.

Yours Is No Disgrace - 8.5/10
The Clap - 8/10
Starship Trooper - 10/10
I've Seen All Good People - 9/10
A Venture - 7.5/10
Perpetual Change - 8.5/10

Adjusted 88%
Overall 86%
4 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Grace Under Pressure - Rush
Format: CD/Digital

Rush's tenth album kicks off with the whooshing of winds before the lead single from the album comes in, synth heavy, the 80s pop feel is strong with this track, the track has all the elements that could make for an incredible Rush track, but it falls short to me, I think there is a little too much emphasis put upon the synths which holds back this track from making that leap from good to great. It is a good intro but not amazing. Afterimage increases in tempo a track about a friend of Neil's who died in a motorcycle accident, this track feels a little more together than the previous track and it has the sentimental feeling that a tribute should have but also feels very true to the band at the same time. It could be much stronger with less synth and more guitar but it is what it is. Red Sector A is a track about concentration camps, Geddy is amazing vocally on this track and the band utilizes the synths perfectly in this haunting midtempo track. The imagry of the worka and death camps, the energy on the chorus feels like a glimmer of hope coming through darkness. Emotionally delivered and phenomenal from start to finish. The Enemy Within picks up the tempo again, the chorus is the tracks highlights, the album thus far has felt very different from their 70s work and it doesn't feel super similar to their 90s work either, instead it remains its own identity. It works quite well but makes for a bit of a different expeirience. Probably the most unique album they have in that regard and with only two left to listen to I don't see that changing.

The Body Electric continues on the trend of being unique but not super amazing, the chorus feels pretty uninsipired lyrically, the band has released 10 albums in the span of 11 years so I can get them running lower on ideas for tracks but this just doesn't do it too much for me. Kid Gloves, opens with some more prominent guitar work than we have seen up till this point on the album, a definite step up from the previous track. Poppy and upbeat the track feels fun. Red Lense comes in with a statement from Geddy it is one of the more unique tracks of the album, I'm sure upon some relistens this album will warm up to me but this track isn't quite clicking for me right now. Between The Wheels begins with a sense of urgency from the keyboards, the albums closing track, this is a track about being passed by in the game of life. It is one of the strongest tracks on the album. A tasteful guitar solo from Alex is featured here and emphasized by the synth work.

Distant Early Warning - 7.5/10
Afterimage - 8/10
Red Sector A - 10/10
The Enemy Within (Part I Of Fear) - 8/10
The Body Electric - 7/10
Kid Gloves - 8/10
Red Lense - 7.5/10
Between The Wheels 8.5/10

Adjusted 80%
Overall 80%
3 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Relayer - Yes
Format: CD/Digital

Yes's seventh album, like a few of their albums this ones track listing is incredibly short, 3 songs, one twenty minute epic with two nine minute tracks on the opposing side. Clocking in at 40 minutes the album sits at a reasonable runtime with the potential of being incredibly high quality and enjoyable or easily in the oppposite direction. The Gates Of Delirium is the first track, one of the bands more popular epics from what I can tell, begins calmly building up in atmosphere, with some eclectic instrumental work throughout the introduction, the track is about a battle and the insturmental component leans into this theme quite well, the vocals have a rather folky and story telling tone to them, it really feels like someone telling a legend of days gone by. Epic is a word which I will use to describe the overall feel of the track. With interdispersed instrumental passages the first 8 minutes of the track tell the tales of War and Peace, in a brilliant composition, my only wish for the band as a whole would be for a heavier sound but by the same token the songs are brilliantly composed and performed in a rather accessible sound especially considering this came out in 1974. The instrumental passage like other Yes mid-track instrumentals doesn't feel out of place even with the extended time and is a brilliant one at that. Synths everywhere with Steve Howe delivering some brilliant guitar licks, with twists and turns throughout the track is phenomenal and amazingly composed. The closing segment has been released as a single it is called Soon, this tender ballad is a soothing end to the ferocious instrumental passage and the track as a whole, it closes off the song with a message of hope. A perfect composition.

Sound Chaser is up next, this version of the track is the nine minute version however there is a short 3 minute rendition released as a single, it comes in with a call and answer introduction, between the precussion and the guitars. The track's vocals are a bit low int he mix off the start, the delivery is much quicker than I've heard thus far from the band, although that isn't saying too much. The instrumental of this track is mesmorizing in some places, with an extended solo at the 3 minute mark from Howe whom soon is joined by Patrick Moraz providing a fair bit of atmospheric emphasis on his keyboards, the solo slows down and becomes very tranquil with the rhythm section adding an air of danger in the background with their brilliant atmospheric accompanyment. With 3 minutes remaining in the track it shifts into an upbeat foot tapping instrumental, this track screams live experimentation, the track itself feels like the band is just letting flow what is in their heads. The Cha Cha Cha's are a little unnecessary and the track as a whole is quite good and would have been better without them. To Be Over closes out the album, the track is easily the most mellow one on the album, it is another track dominated by longer instrumental passages it has a bit of a The Rain Song feel to it in places being that it is light and calm throughout and quite a beautiful track. The only real downside is the vocals are all covered with a lot of backing vocals I think they would have been stronger without the massive amount of backing on them. A stellar album, I don't know how often I will revisit the tracks due to their length but they are incredible nonetheless.

The Gates Of Delirium - 10/10
Sound Chaser - 9/10
To Be Over - 9.5/10

Adjusted 97%
Overall 95%
5 Stars
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Signals - Rush
Format: CD/Digital

Following the success of Moving Pictures, Rush moves onto their ninth album, the first of the synth age of the band, having found the commercial success with their previous album and their subsequent live album, in otherwords Rush went full 80s. Subdivisions opens up the album, one of the tracks most frequently played from the record. It begins with the synths which one would expect in todays day and age to hear on the 80s albums from the band however I could see this being a major shock to fans of the band at the time to have this much emphasis on them. The track speaks to societal pressure with fear of being cast out for not following what the percieved normal is. A very powerful statement to have their first truly synth based track be a song of such nature, I think it is a brilliant choice for an opener for that fact alone. A fun and more relaxed track, while conveying a powerful message and the synths are handled really well. The Analog Kid, follows up, the track shifts back to a more guitar oriented sound, good energy and a smart choice of a follow up, showing that the band hadn't abandoned their guitar oriented sound, Geddy almost sounds too clean on the vocals which is something I've found with the other 80s albums lately in some places he just sounds a little too pristine. A really good 1-2 punch. Chemistry comes up next, this track was written by all 3 members and is the last song to credit anyone but Neil for lyrics in the bands catalog. Speaking to the nature of Chemistry as an area of study and the comparrision to the chemistry between people and the contrast of the different meanings. I really like the synth and guitar based introduction, it feels like if it was longer it could have been a cool concert intro. The chorus and prechorus aren't the strongest, in all honestly the lyrics for this track aren't the strongest as a whole. Instrumentally quite strong but it falls short from their high standard.

Digital Man one of the albums longer tracks comes in next to close off the first half of the album. A science fiction inspiried track with a dystopia future being featured in the land where this Digital Man lives. It references back to the albums opening track, the musical component sounds pretty solid and the song as a whole is a definite step back up from the previous one, it is a pretty good track as a whole package but it suffers from the bands musical direction making it lighter than it could have been with say two or three albums ago's musical approach. The Weapon (Part II Of Fear) opens the second half of the album. This rendition of Fear is focused on fear being used as a weapon against the person whom is experiencing the fear. It comes in with another stompable introduction beat. Not a ton of energy in the track, Geddy sings in a way which I feel would have him raising his eyebrows to hit the notes like he does in live videos of some older tracks. It doesn't do a lot for me. But the instrumental passage is quite good.

New World Man, from a title perspective it continues upon the trend of different ages of life, the shortest track on the album, the final song composed for the album and its first single. It is a midpaced track, with a lot of synth being used as one would expect, the bass work is also fairly prominent here. The chorus has a fair bit of energy to it. Not a really good track. Losing It, is a ballad of sorts, featuring a violin solo, the track is about losing the prowess of talents with age and getting frustrated by it. I feel this was a fitting song choice for their final tour in which the track had its debut. A beautiful track. Countdown closes out the album, the band wrote the track about watching the Columbia shuttle launch , intermixed into the track are the sounds of shuttle dispatch, Geddy jumps between instruments between the verse and the chorus' the track is a nice way to honour astronauts, it isn't my favourite track of the album but it does have some cool moments throughout.

Subdivisions - 9/10
The Analog Kid - 9/10
Chemistry - 7.5/10
Digital Man - 8/10

The Weapon (Part II of Fear) - 7.5/10
New World Man - 7/10
Losing It - 9/10
Countdown - 8.5/10

Adjusted 82%
Overall 81%
3.5 Stars


I plan on finishing up with Power Windows either tomorrow or Friday, likely will do another Yes album inbetween, we will see how I feel when it comes to sit down for another record.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Breaking The Chains - Dokken
Format: CD/Digital

Dokken's debut album opens up with its Title Track, it comes in midtempo with some catchy riffs right off the bat from George Lynch, the vocals of Don Dokken come in clear and very melodic as one can expect from him, he is incredibly recognizable, a decent opening track it doesn't have a ton of energy, which considering the band was young and starting, isn't a good sign when your opening to your album isn't super strong. The vocals are well produced and done nicely. I just think it could be much better at a quicker tempo. In The Middle continues on this mid tempo approach, once again there are some good vocals from Don although that is more that they are easy to listen to and are super melodic in nature, and less that they are dynamic. The track is a step in the wrong direction, a nice solo doesn't save it. Felony opens with a bass guitar intro, the track is more in line with the opener quality wise, it isn't the most original track but it has a nice groove as built by the very prominent bass work. I Can't See You comes in with a bit of a foot tappin riff, then Don comes in singing. It feels like something is holding it back another okay track. Live To Rock (Rock To Live) has a bit more energy than the others on this half of the album, the chorus is okay, but on it Don sounds like Jeff Keith from Tesla especially on the part where he sings the title. The solo from Lynch is great and deserves a stronger track to belong to.

Nightrider opens up the second half of the album, the drums get a more prominent role in the mix, the bass has that 80s synth bass feel to it, I feel this track has a lot of potential to be a really enjoyable live track but it just misses the mark in the studio. Seven Thunders has a riff which feels a little like The Wickerman, however the similarities end there, another just okay track. Young Girls has another riff that feels super familliar, it is generic 80s cookie cutter, girls drive me crazy track. Stick To Your Guns is the final studio track on the album with the albums closer being a live recording of a track. This track is the first that has really pulled me in on the album. There is a punch to this track, although it doesn't live up to the highlights of the follow up album, this is easily the best track thus far. The chorus is okay but the verses are much stronger. Opening up with a solo Paris Is Burning is the only track on the album exceeding 4 minutes, the solo ends and the rest of the band begin to enter. A pretty good uptempo track.

Breaking The Chains - 8/10
In The Middle - 7/10
Felony - 8/10
I Can't See You - 7.5/10
Live To Rock (Rock To live) - 8/10
Nightrider - 8/10
Seven Thunders - 7.5/10
Young Girls - 7.5/10
Stick To Your Guns - 8.5/10
Paris Is Burning - 8.510

Adjusted 79%
Overall 79%
3 Stars
 
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Jer

My sins are many
Breaking The Chains - 8/10
In The Middle - 7/10
Felony - 8/10
I Can't See You - 7.5/10
Live To Rock (Rock To live) - 8/10
Nightrider - 8/10
Seven Thunders - 7.5/10
Young Girls - 7.5/10
Stick To Your Guns - 8.5/10
Paris Is Burning - 8.510

Adjusted 79%
Overall 79%
This is a pretty charitable review. The only things I ever listen to from this album anymore are the title track, “Paris Is Burning”, and maybe “Nightrider”.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
This is a pretty charitable review. The only things I ever listen to from this album anymore are the title track, “Paris Is Burning”, and maybe “Nightrider”.

I really should shift to an out of 5 rating system (It would likely give more accurate ratings)... because the way I see a 7 is more like a 2/5. I won't be revisiting this album much if at all.
 

Jer

My sins are many
I really should shift to an out of 5 rating system (It would likely give more accurate ratings)... because the way I see a 7 is more like a 2/5. I won't be revisiting this album much if at all.
Yeah, don’t be afraid of using the full range. School grade scoring means you’ll never go below a 6/10, so you’re just artificially constraining the usable range. Though using the full range like I do means you have to explain to people like @Collin why a 6.5/10 is still pretty good, so maybe stars are easier to understand.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Yeah, don’t be afraid of using the full range. School grade scoring means you’ll never go below a 6/10, so you’re just artificially constraining the usable range. Though using the full range like I do means you have to explain to people like @Collin why a 6.5/10 is still pretty good, so maybe stars are easier to understand.

Yea shifting to a 1-5 range will likely happen, just need to figure if I'm going to bother going back through 425 albums to adjust the scores accordingly. But in doing so I could add in the adjusted scores so it could be beneficial. Just lots of work. Plus shifting to the full range would make for much more work.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
And on this day of Alex Lifeson's birth I complete the studio albums


Power Windows - Rush
Format: CD/Digital

Rush's eleventh album and the final one in this series of reviews is Power Windows the album spawned 5 singles, which begs the question, why do so many 80s and early 90s albums have so many singles it leaves less room for the more artisic deep cuts. Oh well we will see what this album has in store for us. The Big Money opens it all up, it hits hard off the start, the synths are still present here but they seem properly integrated into the bands sound at this point with the previous two albums having worked out most of the kinks in terms of their integration, the sound is catchy, and there is a harder edge to it than the aforementioned albums before. The songs title is repeated a lot during the verses of the track which does feel a little unoriginal, but the actual point of this is clear it is showing the impact of money on a persons life. The synth filled solo section is great and a prime example of Rush's members talents as musicians. I enjoyed this track more than the entire debut from Dokken. Following up the opener is Grand Designs the sound quality of this album is really nice and enjoyable and the it doesn't pull me in as much as the opener but it still has the trademark introspective lyrics written by Neil. Manhattan Project comes in with a very distinct darker atmosphere from the start and naturally so the song is about the infamous race to the atomic bomb, this track is another great example of how synths and guitar can be intermixed to create masterful composition, the track tells the stories very well.

Marathon is Neil's track about living life for the album, an easily accessible track and the albums fifth and final single, it continues on the great sound quality and the messages of these tracks are relatable. Geddy sounds strong vocally throughout. Territories is the longest track of the album, it is just slightly longer than Marathon, a foot tapping track with Geddy singing with a ton of conviction throughout the track appears to be about places of living and the divide caused by separating into different districts instead of looking out for the benefit of all where instead it is groups and individuals for themselves. Middletown Dreams takes the opposite approach speaking to the power of having the divisions. Emotion Detector comes in with some bells, the track is solid but it just doesn't quite get me in fully. A rather pleasent track from start to finish. Mystic Rhythms ends the album, it comes in with an ominous tone to it. The track is midtempo and has a rather epic feel to it, this could have been really cool and mystical live (yes intended)

The Big Money - 9/10
Grand Designs - 8.5/10
Manhattan project - 9/10
Marathon - 8.5/10
Territories - 8.5/10
Middletown Dreams - 9/10
Emotion Detector - 8/10
Mystic Rhythms -9/10

Adjusted 87%
Overall 87%
4 Stars


And with that Rush has been completed.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Close To The Edge - Yes
Format: CD/Digital

Yes' fifth album, and the first in a series in which have incredibly short track listings in terms of individual songs on the record, this one features three tracks, the first side of the album being the title track with two 10 minute tracks on the second half. Close To The Edge fades in, slowly, a suite composed of 4 tracks within itself. The first 4 minutes of the track are an instrumental in which the band makes it very clear they are in the mood for experimentation, with keyboards and guitars bending and twisting their sounds as they progress through the extended introductory solos. A little trippy in places. Once the vocals begin the track becomes quite smooth, Jon Anderson's vocals shift from a to the point delivery to his more ethereal style, the latter of which is a stronger form of delivery. The backing vocals don't really do it all that well for me, Yes has a lot of potential for my enjoyment but some of their approaches just make me question things. The song transitions into its second component seemlessly so I will be treating the components as acts within a track. Following the second component there is a peaceful instrumental component which is rather atmospheric and has a fair bit of keyboards int he background, the sounds of water dripping, the vocals change signifigantly on this third component, they continue on the atmospheric feeling from before, these vocals are stellar, calm, tranquil but powerful all in one. The organ interlude is incredibly well timed with the chorus. A brilliant component! The fourth and final component begins with another instrumental passage, segueing in from the second organ interlude, and this instrumental segment is pretty stellar. The second half of this track is a pretty notable step higher in quality than the first half. A great composition.

And You And I, begins the second half of the record, begining with an acoustic guitar introduction this track also features a fairly lengthy instrumental intro. This track is a ballad of sorts, with incredible vocals from Anderson for the first little while, upon the third verse however they get a little distorted and unpleasent comparred to the other vocals he delivers before and after it. A soothing instrumental segues into the second component of this suite. The chorus is sung with incredible conviction in this component and wow does it show through, Steve Howe plays some phenomenal guitar licks and segments on this track, the track has some flaws but it is beautiful throughout and the brilliance overshadows the less stellar moments. Siberian Khatru closes out the album, coming in with a bit of a more eclectic bit of guitar work, this track has the most energy in terms of an upbeat energetic approach of all the tracks on the album, including the individual components. Overall the track is probably the most enjoyable track due to that regard, it is well composed. Beautiful guitar and keyboards, plenty of strong drum fills and just a fun energy about it. A smart choice in closer, it likely could have been a brilliant opener as well.


Close To The Edge - 4.5/5
And You And I - 5/5
Siberian Khatru - 5/5

Adjusted 97%
Overall 95%
5 Stars
 
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