Random album reviews

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Black Clouds And Silver Linings - Dream Theater

Rumbling thunder opens up the massive opening track A Nightmare To Remember comes into action very quickly after the thunder stops, an aged James comes in strong and his vocals are lower but much more clear than the lower vocals on Awake. The car crash imagry makes the track very clear as to what it is written about although the lyrics fit in so many other ways. Petrucci delivers some stellar guitar work throughout the track with Portnoy relentlessly hammering at his drums. James' deliver of the Hopelessly drifting, bathing in beautiful agony is sublime. What a wonderful chorus. The complexity and the sheer emotion throughout this track makes in so clear why they have brought it back into the setlist, an absolute monster of a track and a brilliant opening track for the album. Portnoy, Petrucci and Rudess deliver on some stellar solos, the track feels dark and painful throughout. I love it although the more growling style is something I could have lived without, but it does fit the song's tone and message to end on this darker and heavier note. A Rite Of Passage is up next, and like the previous track it wastes not time getting down to buissness. Rudess' keyboards are quite strong throughout this track and the track as a whole screams for orchestral backing. Punchy with an epic feel to it A Rite Of Passage may not be as long as some of the other tracks here but it captures a strong and brutal approach incredibly well within its 9 minute runtime. James sounds great throughout and the backing vocal harmonies were also great. Wither slows down and holy shit has the band caught lightning in a bottle with this incredible ballad. While the song doesn't really have something which outright stands out as something to really dive into it really is the highlight as it is a perfect sum of its parts. The final component of the twelve part suit comes in, The Shattered Fortress it takes the approach back to being, Portnoy delivers a storm of drums in the first segment which is absolutely brilliant. The solo section following Restraint is absolutely brilliant Petrucci's guitar absolutely wails on his axe. Recieve calms down a bit taking a more tranquil approach Portnoy takes on vocals, for the spoken word section or at least I think that is him, the ending to Recieve isn't the strongest as it segues into the final part of the suite with Responsible which begins with an extended solo from Petrucci much like how Restraint ended, and the short vocal section is incredibly powerful and really comes full circle from what I assume the start of Mike's journey would have been with someone helping him get started on his journey. The Best Of Times opens with the ticking of a clock and then some violin comes in along side the pianos of Rudess before a calm acoustic guitar comes in and the track continues along its slow introduction until the 3 minute mark where the tempo shifts drastically and the entire back kicks into action, James sings in a way that really feels like it belongs in a lighter type of music on the opening verse, not a complaint it just felt quite commercial in a sense and it really is a great sounding delivery. There is a feeling of fondness delivered in his tone and the song upon some searching was dedicated to Mike's father so the fondness makes sense being a song looking back upon the times spent with a loved one who has passed away. Rudess does a great job delivering some excellent keyboard fills throughout the track. Another brilliant track start to finish. The outro of this track just absolutely soars. The Count Of Tuscany closes out the album, the longest track taking up over 25% of the albums length. It features a building introduction which is a wonderful instrumental passage, it does shift at bit around the 3 minute mark becoming more circuis like before suddenly shifting into a direct rocking approach, James once again sounds really strong upon his entry. The more rasp? filled vocals don't really suit the music to me, the track feels its length in spots but at the same feels quite engaging. Cutting down the length slightly would have been a good choice. As a whole I think the track is fairly good but not really on par with the other 5 tracks of the album. The synthy segment really could have been cut it just goes on too long, when the whole band is involved the song is pretty good but it just doesn't need to be this long or bloated.

A Nightmare To Remember - 10/10
A Rite Of Passage - 9.5/10
Wither - 10/10
The Shattered Fortress - 9.5/10
The Best Of Times - 10/10
The Count Of Tuscany - 8/10

Overall 95%
Adjusted 93%
4.5 Stars


That was a magnificent trip Wither is easily the strongest track for me but wow is this album high quality. From what I can tell this is a major difference between most people for this album and myself but I quite enjoyed this album.
 

KidInTheDark666

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

Black Clouds And Silver Linings - Dream Theater

Rumbling thunder opens up the massive opening track A Nightmare To Remember comes into action very quickly after the thunder stops, an aged James comes in strong and his vocals are lower but much more clear than the lower vocals on Awake. The car crash imagry makes the track very clear as to what it is written about although the lyrics fit in so many other ways. Petrucci delivers some stellar guitar work throughout the track with Portnoy relentlessly hammering at his drums. James' deliver of the Hopelessly drifting, bathing in beautiful agony is sublime. What a wonderful chorus. The complexity and the sheer emotion throughout this track makes in so clear why they have brought it back into the setlist, an absolute monster of a track and a brilliant opening track for the album. Portnoy, Petrucci and Rudess deliver on some stellar solos, the track feels dark and painful throughout. I love it although the more growling style is something I could have lived without, but it does fit the song's tone and message to end on this darker and heavier note. A Rite Of Passage is up next, and like the previous track it wastes not time getting down to buissness. Rudess' keyboards are quite strong throughout this track and the track as a whole screams for orchestral backing. Punchy with an epic feel to it A Rite Of Passage may not be as long as some of the other tracks here but it captures a strong and brutal approach incredibly well within its 9 minute runtime. James sounds great throughout and the backing vocal harmonies were also great. Wither slows down and holy shit has the band caught lightning in a bottle with this incredible ballad. While the song doesn't really have something which outright stands out as something to really dive into it really is the highlight as it is a perfect sum of its parts. The final component of the twelve part suit comes in, The Shattered Fortress it takes the approach back to being, Portnoy delivers a storm of drums in the first segment which is absolutely brilliant. The solo section following Restraint is absolutely brilliant Petrucci's guitar absolutely wails on his axe. Recieve calms down a bit taking a more tranquil approach Portnoy takes on vocals, for the spoken word section or at least I think that is him, the ending to Recieve isn't the strongest as it segues into the final part of the suite with Responsible which begins with an extended solo from Petrucci much like how Restraint ended, and the short vocal section is incredibly powerful and really comes full circle from what I assume the start of Mike's journey would have been with someone helping him get started on his journey. The Best Of Times opens with the ticking of a clock and then some violin comes in along side the pianos of Rudess before a calm acoustic guitar comes in and the track continues along its slow introduction until the 3 minute mark where the tempo shifts drastically and the entire back kicks into action, James sings in a way that really feels like it belongs in a lighter type of music on the opening verse, not a complaint it just felt quite commercial in a sense and it really is a great sounding delivery. There is a feeling of fondness delivered in his tone and the song upon some searching was dedicated to Mike's father so the fondness makes sense being a song looking back upon the times spent with a loved one who has passed away. Rudess does a great job delivering some excellent keyboard fills throughout the track. Another brilliant track start to finish. The outro of this track just absolutely soars. The Count Of Tuscany closes out the album, the longest track taking up over 25% of the albums length. It features a building introduction which is a wonderful instrumental passage, it does shift at bit around the 3 minute mark becoming more circuis like before suddenly shifting into a direct rocking approach, James once again sounds really strong upon his entry. The more rasp? filled vocals don't really suit the music to me, the track feels its length in spots but at the same feels quite engaging. Cutting down the length slightly would have been a good choice. As a whole I think the track is fairly good but not really on par with the other 5 tracks of the album. The synthy segment really could have been cut it just goes on too long, when the whole band is involved the song is pretty good but it just doesn't need to be this long or bloated.

A Nightmare To Remember - 10/10
A Rite Of Passage - 9.5/10
Wither - 10/10
The Shattered Fortress - 9.5/10
The Best Of Times - 10/10
The Count Of Tuscany - 8/10

Overall 95%
Adjusted 93%
4.5 Stars


That was a magnificent trip Wither is easily the strongest track for me but wow is this album high quality. From what I can tell this is a major difference between most people for this album and myself but I quite enjoyed this album.
Welcome to the Black Clouds fanclub! I think that this one might be their most underrated album (this and its predecessor don't get that much love). Funnily enough, you rated my favorite song as your least favorite but this review was a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

I don't know what's coming next but I predict that Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is going to blow your mind.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Welcome to the Black Clouds fanclub! I think that this one might be their most underrated album (this and its predecessor don't get that much love). Funnily enough, you rated my favorite song as your least favorite but this review was a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

I don't know what's coming next but I predict that Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is going to blow your mind.

I'm a sucker for power ballads so Wither was right up my alley. Good to note, I will have to load that one up with the next batch. Have 5 more to go through and I think I'll be revisiting Distance Over Time since I listened to it the one time when it came out and wasn't a fan of it.
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too
I'm a sucker for power ballads so Wither was right up my alley. Good to note, I will have to load that one up with the next batch. Have 5 more to go through and I think I'll be revisiting Distance Over Time since I listened to it the one time when it came out and wasn't a fan of it.
Yeah, Distance Over Time is a bottom 5 album of theirs imo. A Dramatic Turn of Events is really the only must-listen album they released since Portnoy left, imo.
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too
@The Dissident Btw, there's this special edition of Black Clouds and Silver Linings that has some pretty juicy covers on it, including To Tame A Land and a fantastic cover of Stargazer. They are better than the covers on ACOS, I recommend checking them out.
 

Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Grace Under Pressure (1984)
  • Distant Early Warning - Synth effects break into a laid-back groove with sparse guitar chords. A descending synth riff bookends a catchy verse on top of this groove before breaking into a great uptempo chorus. Another round of gradually building verses leads back into the chorus, then an extended melodic interlude that flirts with being a guitar solo. The descending synth riff leads back into the chorus and an extended outro. Great song, a robust 8/10.
  • Afterimage - An uptempo synth groove is joined by a catchy verse. This breaks into a funkier pre-chorus with synth accents, then a strong chorus. A variant verse leads back through the pre-chorus and chorus, giving way to an extended synth-laden interlude with guitar accents, then a melodic guitar-driven instrumental. Another round of verse, abbreviated pre-chorus, and chorus, and a quick rhythmic breakdown leads into a synth tone outro. Another great track, 8/10.
  • Red Sector A - A pulsing beat supports ringing guitar chords in an odd melody. This leads into a catchy, melancholy verse. A synth and guitar tradeoff underlines a great pre-chorus, breaking into an excellent chorus. Another round of pre-chorus and chorus, then we cut immediately back to the verse before breaking into an epic harmonic-laden guitar instrumental. We return to the chorus, then another verse, before a reprise of the intro shuts things down. Love the odd song structure and guitar choices, and all of the vocal parts are great. Excellent song, 9/10.
  • The Enemy Within - Ringing guitar with percussive accents breaks into a strong galloping verse. This leads into a bright chorus and a soothing synth interlude. Another round of verse, chorus, and interlude leads into a strong extended bridge, then a variant chorus. Another synth interlude breaks into the verse groove and fades into the distance. Good stuff, a strong 7/10.
  • The Body Electric - A marching beat is joined by prominent bass and guitar accents. This builds into a foreshadowing of the chorus groove before falling into a melodious, marching verse, then delivering the actual chorus (“1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1...”), which is a lot catchier than you’d think. Another round of verse and chorus, then we get a strong bridge and guitar solo with aggressive bass. Another chorus, then we return to the bridge before an extended uptempo outro. Another great one, 8/10.
  • Kid Gloves - Odd-tempo ringing guitars are joined by building rhythm support, flowing into a bright verse and a more driving pre-chorus before breaking into an OK chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get a pretty cool guitar solo. A variant pre-chorus returns to the chorus before an extended interlude and a quick final breakdown. Some great parts with some weaker elements, 7/10 overall.
  • Red Lenses - A half-spoken verse kicks this off, breaking into a mid-tempo groove. This cuts into a somewhat awkward synth-driven chorus with busy guitars. Another verse, chorus, and verse, then we get an extended synth and guitar interlude. A variant bass and drum driven chorus leads back into the verse, which evolves into vocal riffing that fades away. The awkward chorus is a sore spot, but the rest of the song is strong enough to salvage a 7/10.
  • Between The Wheels - Dark synths are joined by ominous guitars and a pulsing beat to drive a solid verse. This breaks into a brighter uptempo pre-chorus, then a strong synth-drenched chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get a solid guitar solo and a final chorus. A reprise of the intro with extra guitar noodling forms the basis of an extended outro. Good stuff, a strong 7/10.
Average: 7.6/10
Weighted: 7.6/10

This is a consistently strong album, with half the material being great to excellent, and the other half being solidly good. The band continues their synth-forward approach while still delivering virtuosic performances on the other instruments.

This album is a sentimental favorite of mine that I come back to a lot, and I’m a little surprised that it didn’t rate higher overall. It still rounds up to greatness, though. :)
 

Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Power Windows (1985)
  • The Big Money - Reverb-soaked guitar is joined by drums and synth, soon giving way to a synth and bass interlude. This breaks into a catchy verse and pre-chorus with assertive bass before falling into a calmer chorus 1 and 2. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get an extended interlude with gentle guitar and busy drums, breaking into a strong guitar solo. Chorus 2 folds back into the verse and pre-chorus, then a reprise of the intro leads into a rhythmic outro. Great stuff, 8/10.
  • Grand Designs - A synth riff with guitar and drum accents leads into a vocal intro, then a bright verse with ringing guitar. A peppier pre-chorus 1 breaks into brief guitar harmonics and a short pre-chorus 2, then a synth riff carries us through an abbreviated chorus. Another round of verse and pre-chorus breaks into a chorus with richer synths, then a pretty good guitar solo with a strong bass line. This returns to the chorus, then an extended bridge before a final rhythmic outro. Really good, probably merits rounding up to an 8/10.
  • Manhattan Project - Marching drums with bass accents break into a soupy synth interlude, then a series of catchy verses punctuated by guitar and synths. A ringing guitar lead picks up the pace, leading into a memorable extended chorus. This cuts into another verse, then right back to the chorus, then immediately into a variant verse. This leads into an orchestrated interlude, then back to a series of choruses before a reprise of the opening elements brings things to an end. Another great track, 8/10.
  • Marathon - A rising guitar lead with synth accompaniment breaks into a bass-heavy verse groove. This cuts into a great pre-chorus before cycling around to the chorus and pre-chorus again, finally blossoming into an excellent chorus. A brief interlude, then another round of verse through chorus. This breaks into an extended instrumental with great interplay between the guitar and drums and a sweet guitar solo. A synth-laden bridge builds back up into that glorious chorus before slowly fading away. I love the juxtaposition of triumphant music with lyrics about chronically losing. Excellent song, 9/10.
  • Territories - Drums and a synth lead are joined by guitar and bells. This breaks into a catchy guitar lead that drives an appealing verse. The guitar kicks it up a notch, leading into a catchy pre-chorus and a drum-driven chorus. A variant verse with vocal harmonies flows into the pre-chorus and chorus, then a great bridge. A brief interlude returns to the chorus, then a bright guitar solo, before fading away on a bass-driven outro. Really great track, I think I’ll have to round it up to 9/10.
  • Middletown Dreams - A synth and bass groove leads into a gentle verse and an excellent synth-drenched chorus. A peppier version of the verse breaks into an uptempo synth riff supporting a strong bridge 1. This flows back into the chorus, then a great guitar solo and a strong bridge 2. A quick breakdown cuts back into that great chorus, then an extended outro with vocal riffing. Another really great track, gotta round this one up to 9/10 as well.
  • Emotion Detector - A ringing synth lead with marching drums breaks into a synth and guitar riff, then a solid bass-driven verse, and a big synth-laden chorus. Another round of verse and chorus, then we get a great guitar solo with really aggressive bass that gives way to synth accompaniment. A series of variant choruses leads to a quick denouement. This song starts off pretty good, but develops into something great by the end. 8/10.
  • Mystic Rhythms - Peart’s natural and synthetic beats are joined by bass and synth. Clean guitar accompanies a great verse, breaking into an epic synth-drenched chorus. Another round of verse and hypnotic chorus breaks into a rising guitar lead, then a bass-driven interlude with reversed guitar and synth. This leads back to an even more epic version of the chorus before a reprise of the intro slowly takes us into the distance. Fantastic, 10/10.
Average: 8.6/10
Weighted: 8.7/10

What an excellent album this is — the pinnacle of their synth-heavy period, IMO. With nothing rating below an 8/10, this album is more consistent than Moving Pictures and lands at a comparable overall rating.

If you like big reverb, warm synths, and epic choruses, then this could very well be your favorite Rush album. It was my personal favorite for many years, and it might still be in the end...
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Octavarium - Dream Theater
Format: CD/Digital

Album number 8 opens up with a lengthier track known as The Root Of All Evil. Having an almost millitary feel to the introduction the track has drumming which sounds like gun shots. James sounds strong from the get go and Petrucci delivers a captivating riff pulling the listener into the track. Another track within the 12 part suite written by Portnoy and the track really. A rather accessible track considering it is from the 12 part suite which have thus far been on the heavier side of things. Petrucci delivers on his solo and the track is one catchy track from start to finish, killer lyrics and amazing vocals throughout a great album starter. The track closes off with the sounds of wildlife as it transitions into The Answer Lies Within, which brings the piano to the forefront on the introduction, slowly building with some acoustic guitars James comes in singing softly on what appears to be growing into a power ballad of sorts, hearing his breathing adds a little to the emotion behind his delivery, an incredible converyed quite well. There are a few moments where the song feels like it is about to explode with energy and power but it stays subdued. Brilliant. This is shaping up to be another amazing album, and quite frankly I'm so annoyed with myself that I didn't dive into Dream Theater sooner. These Walls opens in a way which feels like we are about to get hit with a heavy track, growling guitar sounds lead into a an onslaught of keyboards, bass, drums and guitar. Before it all slows down and the band pulls back a little, the verses sound amazing but the chorus is a little weaker. I feel like this song is a reference to Pink Floyd's The Wall it fits the themes of self imposed isolation and the feeling of being trapped within ones own head, the orchestration behind the track is quite nice while not overshadowing the band infront of it. I quite like the thought the band put into the album thus far, I read somewhere that they were trying to strip back and focus on the musical side of things for this album and it really is paying off although I haven't found an "older" album from them that I don't like in some capacity at this point. I Walk Beside You, the tempo increases and the track takes on a much more commercial feel to it. James' voice soars over the band and he nails this track really well. It misses something to be considered perfect but wow. What a great listen the first half of the album has been! Panic Attack shifts away from the commercial length and approach returning to a more metal and progressive style, the open vocals are delivered in a short fashion. Petrucci, Myung, and Portnoy are delivering a stellar instrumental performance behind the verses, furious rocking and while the vocal delivery is strong it just lacks the smoothness which could have made this song another absolutely killer track. James' does get slightly better in some sections delivery wise. Another strong solo section, which is amplified by a keyboard and guitar harmony component ensues towards the end of the track. Overall a good track just not one that I will likely revisit for a while. Never Enough comes in once again from the ending of the previous track which is something the band has done quite well with throughout the album, each track is distinct but still feels like a continuation of the general theme. Portnoy's drums signal the true start of the track. James slightly shifts towards a more enjoyable delivery especially in his tone of voice, still the phrasing is a little short feeling but as a whole it is far more enjoyable. Myung gets a little solo section in this track which is a nice spotlight for him to have, his keys sounding extra synth like throughout before Petrucci takes his solo. Sacrificed Sons begins the bringing songs truely back to the lengthier size, over 10 minutes in length beginning with some news reports and chatter all regarding 9/11. James wrote the lyrics on this track and he comes in softly again, his voice crystal clear. A cry out against the actions taken on that fateful day. The delivery of the lyrical passages is great and tasteful. Instrumentally the track is another prime example of how great Dream Theater as a whole are with extended band jams and solos, each member getting a time to shine while not going too long or feeling out of place. Octavarium closes out the album a 24 minute epic the track builds slowly at first which frankly it has the time to do that. The sprawling instrumental opening takes many twists and turns featuring some flutes the track really doesn't feel like it has been this long thus far and the musicianship is excellent. James comes in around the 6 minute mark singing mystically. As the first section of this 5 part track closes out James vocals really kick into action, growing higher and full of power. And with that a distinct change occurs as part two of the track comes in, slowing down a little. Petrucci delivers some beautiful guitar work throughout the track. Part 3: Full Circle is a very clear tribute being done for the bands influences, there are references to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and The Who among others. The intervals section references the previous songs on the album which really ties it all together. A pretty darn strong track thus far, it is a little long but I suspect it will grow on me as a whole. It closes out the album quite well bringing it all full circle. This would have been a trip to have seen live.


The Root Of All Evil - 10/10
The Answer Lies Within - 10/10
These Walls - 9/10
I Walk Beside You - 9.5/10
Panic Attack - 8/10
Never Enough - 8/10
Sacrificed Sons - 9/10
Octavarium - 9/10

Overall 91%
Adjusted 90%
4 Stars


Another great album from a band I should have listened to far sooner.
 

Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Hold Your Fire (1987)
  • Force Ten - Sound effects and a synth jackhammer lead into a bass riff that drives verse 1, giving way to a catchy verse 2 and pre-chorus. This breaks into a calmer, synthy chorus. Another round of verses, then an even synthier pre-chorus, and another chorus accompanied by a twisting title vocal. This breaks into an interlude with synth and guitar stingers. A reprise of verse 1 leads directly into the chorus, then another verse 1 before a quick synth jackhammer outro. A great track with a little something extra. I’ll round it up to 9/10.
  • Time Stand Still - Clean ringing guitar that foreshadows the chorus breaks into a melodious midtempo verse. This leads into a calm, synthy chorus 1 with guest vocals by Aimee Mann before breaking into an excellent chorus 2 with nice harmonies between Lee and Mann. Another round of verse and choruses leads into a pleasant interlude with distant female vocals. This returns to a variant chorus 1 and regular chorus 2 before a quick ending. I didn’t realize just how great this track was — maybe I was turned off by the terrible music video for it, or maybe the lyrics have gained more resonance as I‘ve gotten older; but upon relistening, this is a superb song that I can’t really find any weaknesses with. 10/10.
  • Open Secrets - A bass and synth intro with percussive accents breaks into a brief guitar and synth interlude, then an OK verse. Another interlude leads into what I guess is the chorus, which isn’t very memorable. Another verse and chorus leads into a calm interlude and bridge, then a pretty good guitar solo. Another brief interlude returns to the chorus, then an extended instrumental with busy synths and bass. Hmm, that wasn’t very good, and the synths and lyrics veered into cheese at times. OK song, 6/10.
  • Second Nature - Electric piano underpins a calm verse, leading into a synth and drum driven chorus 1, then a heavier chorus 2. This returns to the verse with some uncharacteristically weak lyrics, flowing into the choruses. This leads into an interlude with some really cheesy synth work before returning to a variant chorus 1. Some more questionable synths drive the song to a close. Hmm, that was a pretty weak power ballad. 6/10.
  • Prime Mover - A bass-driven intro is joined by distant vocals and the rest of the band, breaking into a calmer verse. This kicks up into a heavier version of the verse, then a solid chorus. A brief bass solo leads back into the verse with an embarrassing synth stinger, then another chorus. Another brief interlude gives way to a calmer bridge that kicks up into a heavier version of itself, then a calmer variant chorus that slowly builds up into an extended outro with vocal riffing. Pretty good song overall, but nothing special. 7/10.
  • Lock And Key - A very serious-sounding synth intro with a brief foreshadowing of the chorus breaks into a cheesy synth groove that falls into a pretty good verse. This breaks into a heavier pre-chorus and a reasonably catchy chorus with some awkward phrasing. A rhythmic bridge leads back to the pre-chorus and chorus. Wow, these synths on the chorus are a bit twee. This leads into a heavy guitar interlude with a brief solo. A couple rounds of the chorus leads into another bridge and an extended instrumental outro that fades out abruptly. This is a mixed bag, with some great parts and some cringey bits. Overall it probably does enough to earn a 7/10.
  • Mission - A soft synth rhythm supports a lone vocal revealing this to be the stealth title track. This breaks into a bright, uptempo verse groove that leads into a nice synth-laden chorus with guitar accents. Another round of verse and chorus, then we break into an extended instrumental with a brief guitar solo and some melodic percussion. This returns to a variant chorus, then a guitar and synth outro closes things down. Great song, 8/10.
  • Turn The Page - A bass intro breaks into a peppy verse groove with some awkward vocal delivery. This blossoms into a strong pre-chorus and a catchy, synth-drenched chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then a reprise of the bass intro breaks into a pretty good guitar solo. This returns for a few rounds of a variant chorus before a long echo serves as an outro. Lots of great parts here, but the questionable verse forces me to round this down to a 7/10.
  • Tai Shan - Asian flute and light percussion support a pleasant verse. This transitions a bit awkwardly into an OK pre-chorus and chorus. Effervescent guitar joins the verse, leading into the pre-chorus and very synthy chorus. This leads into a variant pre-chorus and chorus before the verse rhythm fades into the distance. Some nice parts and some forgettable bits. 6/10.
  • High Water - A drum and synth intro breaks into a bright groove with some more cheesy synths. A subtle techno feel underlies the verses. The intensity kicks up a bit for what is apparently the chorus. A bass-heavy pre-chorus returns to the tepid chorus, now with glass breaking sounds. A pretty good extended guitar solo follows, then a return to the pre-chorus and a variant chorus before a quick ending. Some nice parts, but not very memorable. 6/10.
Average: 7.2/10
Weighted: 7.2/10

This album was a slight misfire, with a few great tracks and a fair amount of filler. Rush’s use of synths also seemed to jump the shark on this release, veering from the lush feel on previous albums to some frequently cheesy major key earsores on this one. Maybe they realized this in the end, since the band majorly dialed back the use of synths after this record.

Rush frequently talked about this album as the one where they finally felt they’d “arrived”, whatever that means. If they meant popularity or songwriting maturity, then I’d probably pick Moving Pictures or Power Windows for that honor instead.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner

Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence - Dream Theater - Disc 1
Format: CD/Digital

Disc 1:
Fading in from the outro of Finally Free from Scenes from a Memory The Glass Prison opens up the bands 6th album and introduces the audience to the first component of the twelve part suite. Portnoy thunders on his drums quite aggressively brining them to the forefront over Petrucci's soloing. James delivers a distorted vocal performance towards the end of the first part he really gets into a more strong style of delivery. Part two comes in becoming a midpaced stomp with a fair bit of anger behind the vocals. The track has some moments where it really shines but as a whole this track isn't the strongest opener Dream Theater have presented, it feels disjointed in parts and while each member does good work throughout the track doesn't become a strong sum of its parts at least not upon this first listen. Long bloated and inconsistent. Blind Faith is up next a clean vocal delviery and some more melencholy music signals that this longer track could potentially be a heart wrenching experience. Clearly about disillusionment with religion and the idea that maybe blind faith isn't the right idea. The chorus is a little shaky but as a whole the track is a massive step forwards from the opener. The extended instrumental section is amazing especially the last few bars before vocals come back into play. Misunderstood comes in calm once again, the track is quite slow for the majority of the first 4 minutes however it does explode into a more upbeat and dynamic track with the second chorus. An interesting guitar solo from Petrucci which from what I have read was played backwards and included on the track, a cool way of doing it. The Great Debate is the final lengthier track on the album, coming in with some news discussions regarding stem cell research, the track slowly builds behind the passages, James comes in at the 3 minute mark and sings incredibly distorted but thankfully that soon is removed as a whole a rather strong track with some powerful imagry and stances placed towards the controversial topic. Disc 1 closes off with Disapear, haunting vocals from James introduce the track so soft, full of pain and longing. And melencholy the track remains, chilling emotions are delived throughout the vocals

The Glass Prison -7.5/10
Blind Faith - 9/10
Misunderstood - 8/10
The Great Debate - 9/10
Disapear -9.5/10

Overall 86
Adjusted 85%
3.5 Stars


I will do disc 2 and include them as a whole album as well later just don't have the time at the moment.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Oh boy, this is their best opener imo. Absolutely crushing kick ass song.
Definitely looking forward to the disc 2 though, it should be a bit more of your taste.
Glass Prison and Blind Faith are both 10/10 songs. And Top 10 Overall DT songs.

I think I will be revisiting disc 1 fairly soon, I really wasn't feeling it today once I actually got into the album. Disc 2 hopefully will happen before the weekend if not it will be sometime between fri-mon. Blind Faith was pretty darn good. I can say though of their albums this being the 2nd lowest thus far at 85/86% is really incredible in terms of their consistency
 

Jer

My sins are many


Rush - Presto (1989)
  • Show Don’t Tell - A soft rhythm breaks into a funky guitar riff. This gives way to a melodious midtempo verse with ringing guitar. The funky riff returns for the pre-chorus before breaking into a sparse synth-accompanied call-and-response chorus. The verse returns, now with creepy downtuned vocals in the background, and runs through to the chorus. A rhythmic breakdown leads into a bass interlude and solo with elements of the pre-chorus, building back into the chorus and fading away. Very good, a robust 7/10.
  • Chain Lightning - Clean guitar accents lead into a bass-driven groove, ultimately falling into a catchy, multi-part verse. This builds through a heavier pre-chorus into a calm, appealing chorus. More verse, pre-chorus, and a longer chorus, then we break into a bizarre but cool guitar solo. Another verse, a longer pre-chorus, and then a supersized chorus with some nice vocal harmonies, then a heavy outro leads to a final downtuned vocal. Great song with some interesting structural choices. 8/10.
  • The Pass - A bass intro with guitar accents leads into a soft, appealing verse. The heaviness kicks up a notch for another verse and a catchy chorus 1 with ringing guitar, then a brief chorus 2. A short interlude with distant guitar swells returns to the verses and choruses, then a great heartfelt guitar solo. This builds into a great bridge, returning to the choruses to end on a stark a capella vocal. An impressive meditation on suicide, touching and even stunning in places. Excellent, 9/10.
  • War Paint - A simple riff on top of a simple beat leads into a synth and bass driven verse. This breaks into a more upbeat pre-chorus before falling back into a calm, ringing chorus. Another round of verse through chorus, then a reprise of the intro riff leads into a strong bridge and guitar solo. This returns to the chorus, building into a variant of the bridge that serves as a new chorus, carrying the song to its close. Another strong track, a robust 7/10.
  • Scars - A sudden vocal fades into a tribal rhythm supporting a memorable verse. A brief guitar break cuts into an urgent chorus. Another verse, chorus, and verse, and then the chorus goes full tribal with just vocals and drums. The rest of the instruments eventually break in, swelling to a crescendo. A final verse suddenly cuts into the chorus, falling back to just the vocals and drums before an abrupt ending. On first listen this might seem like a track that doesn’t go anywhere, but repeated listens reinforce the hypnotic, circular groove and reveal the song’s greatness. 8/10.
  • Presto - A foreshadowing of the pre-chorus falls back into a peppy acoustic verse. A brief pre-chorus flows into a sparse, dreamy chorus with interesting vocal harmonies. Another round of verse through chorus, then an uptempo bridge borrows some chorus lyrics and breaks into a cool guitar solo. This rolls through the bridge again before returning to the chorus with some call-and-response with the pre-chorus lyrics, eventually fading away. Really strong with an interesting structure, I think I should round this up to an 8/10.
  • Superconductor - An off-rhythm riff drives an off-rhythm verse. This gives way to a catchy, inviting pre-chorus before breaking into a chorus that is somehow both driving and gentle. Another round of verse through chorus, then we get a dreamy synth-driven interlude, a brief hint of the verse riff, and an extended pre-chorus. This returns to the chorus for a couple of upward modulations, driving up the intensity each time. The music from the chorus continues with some vocal riffing before a quick ending. Another really strong song with some cool choices. 7/10.
  • Anagram (For Mongo) - A pleasant synth groove foreshadowing the chorus cuts into a guitar-and-vocal verse before blossoming into a calm, catchy chorus. Another round of verse through chorus leads into a synth-driven interlude. We return to the verse, then a variant chorus that folds into the main chorus before an instrumental denouement. Great stuff, 8/10.
  • Red Tide - An electric piano intro breaks into a synth-driven interlude, then a calm verse. This kicks up a notch for the pre-chorus, then a hint of the percussive chorus 1. Another round of verse through chorus 1, then we get a hint of chorus 2. Another verse and pre-chorus, then we get a synth-driven interlude and some variations on chorus 2 before a brief and aggressive guitar solo. This bleeds into chorus 1 and 2, then a synth and guitar driven outro with vocal riffing. Lots of great parts here, I think I’ll round it up to an 8/10.
  • Hand Over Fist - Clean guitar strumming leads into the catchy chorus. A brief guitar lead breaks into a sparse verse, kicking up the heaviness for a great tension-building pre-chorus before falling back into the calmer chorus. Another verse and pre-chorus, then we get a nice guitar solo, a brief chorus, and a strong multi-part bridge. This returns to the chorus, which starts overlapping with itself in an interesting way. Some guitar noodling accompanies the chorus as it fades away. Great song, another 8/10.
  • Available Light - Electric piano drives a melancholy verse groove. This breaks into a brighter but somewhat awkward pre-chorus, then a decent attempt at an epic chorus. We return to the verse with bluesy guitar fills, then another pre-chorus and chorus. An electric organ interlude breaks into a strong guitar solo before returning to the pre-chorus and chorus. This leads into a call-and-response mash-up of the pre-chorus and chorus that fades away to end the album. A good song that isn’t everything it could have been. 7/10.
Average: 7.7/10
Weighted: 7.7/10

Rush closes out the 80s with a strong return to form, albeit in a different style. While most of their music from this decade featured prominent, in-your-face synths and a lot of exuberance, Presto was a calm breath of fresh air. Synths were relegated to a secondary role again, and the crisp, sparse, almost sterile production gave this record a more refined and mature feel. The album still rocks, but in a strangely warm and gentle way.

This is another sentimental favorite of mine, and it makes sense that it’s roughly on par with Grace Under Pressure rating-wise. Another great album overall, where even the weakest tracks are solidly good.
 
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