Rocket Scientists - Revolution Road

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Think Tank Media
Catalog Number: TTMD-1050
Format: CD
Total Time: 101:21:00

Sometimes things move in such strange and unexpected ways, but in the end it turns out good. Especially musicians know things do not always go as planned. When after two studio recordings, the LA based prog outfit Rocket Scientists went to Europe to perform, and released a live album after that, they evolved into a band. But after the release of Oblivion Days in 1999, it became very quiet. Of course they were very busy with numerous other projects, like solo work by Erik Norlander, Lana Lane and Don Schiff. Still there were plans to record another RS album, but when was uncertain.

The "when" started to get clearer, when Mark McCrite started working on ideas for his second solo release (his debut solo album Getting To The Point dates back to 2000). Unfortunately he was very busy for Line 6 and in 2002, he handed some ideas on to Erik Norlander, who suggested these might be interesting for a new Rocket Scientists album. After that it still took about 4 years to finish the album, but just as a good Scotch, it is absolutely worth the wait.

After having listened to the album non-stop for a few days, I can safely say I think this is the best album these guys have ever recorded. And it is a pretty impressive album, as it contains two of these silver discs with a total of one hour, forty-one minutes and twenty-one seconds of music. This may seem long, but when you listen to the album yourself, you will find this album is so captivating, this time will fly by.?

Since it is a double album, you might think it is a concept album, but that is not the case. All songs kind of stand on their own, and each has their own angle or take on the music. Some songs have this distinct singer/songwriter touch, maybe the hallmark of Mark McCrite, while others have this real prog feeling, with lots of vintage synthesizers sounds. This time around NS/Stick maestro Don Schiff also contributed two songs and his instrument is fully utilized on the album, even more than on any other recording.

The album sounds very balanced, in the sense that everything fits - musical arrangements, vocal lines, use of instruments. It is known that Rocket Scientists value good compositions and they have definitely outdone themselves here. The fact that it is a balanced album, does not mean it is a dull album or has boring moments. On the contrary, the fact that each song has its own unique approach, makes every song a discovery. A significant difference to its predecessor, Oblivion Days, is the lack of the heavy rhythm guitars, which gave Oblivion Days that prog-metal feel. This lack is a great improvement! Don't worry: they still know how to rock! Mark still gets into a heavy guitar riff, like on "Sky Is Falling," a song that was published on the band's MySpace page months before the release of the album, or on "Revolution Road," the epic title track, or on the heavy "Eden Burns." And Erik lets his synthesizers soar from time to time, but it never gets messy or chaotic.

The great Rocket Scientists tradition, started in 1993 on Earthbound, is honored here: "Ptolemy" is an instrumental track based on a famous scientist, this time an ancient Egyptian one. Revolution Road also knows two covers: "Gypsy," a cover of the Moody Blues track, and "UFO S.H.A.D.O. Theme," a sci-fi series theme from the 70s. All other tracks are brand new, although some parts had been recorded years ago! It was originally intended that Shaun Guerin would be the fourth RS member, but unfortunately he passed away in 2003. A year before that, he performed the song "Better View" with RS live and this was recorded; the band was able to use that part for the studio album. The drums on this song were completed by drum legend Simon Philips. Drums for all other tracks were played by Gregg Bissonette, who worked with Erik and Lana Lane on prior albums.

Now I gracefully admit Mark McCrite is my favorite vocalist ever since I first heard him sing. But now he shares lead vocal duties on 6 songs with David Scott McBee. Mr. McBee and his band Shock Opera opened for the Erik Norlander Trio one night and that caused Erik to ask him to participate on this album. And he has done a hell of a good job! Since he sings in more hard-rock oriented bands, he adds a heavy dimension to the vocal parts, but, of course, it very much fits the epic nature of the music of Rocket Scientists. I would definitely love to see this guy sing live! Another nice touch is the use of a live accordion on "Enjoy The Weather." This really gives the song some more depth, warmth and the feeling you are in a small, cozy caf? somewhere in France :-)

Those of you who have read more of my reviews know I can ramble on quite a bit. Two reasons for that. First of all, I always find it very hard to put to words what I feel when I listen to really amazing albums. And secondly, I tend to get over-enthusiastic when I hear such great albums. Words will never do justice to an album such as Revolution Road. You really have to listen to the album yourself, to explore all the beauty it has to offer. And you can take my word for it: This album has so many musical surprises for you! No metal, but in the progressive / classic / melodic / symphonic rock genre all the more.

For me, Revolution Road is the best album I heard this year and maybe even in the past few years. I think it is time that the world realizes what a fantastic group of musicians Rocket Scientists are and what beautiful music they bring us. I sincerely hope everyone who reads this, will make sure he or she gets a legal copy of the album (we have to support the artists that depend on their music to live) and enjoy Revolution Road. No doubt they will wholeheartedly agree with my review, which based upon the music I am right now listening to, is still way too short ... LOL

Disc One: Look Up (0:45) / Sky Is Falling (5:26) / Dream In Red (6:29) / Better View (5:59) / Outside These Painted Walls (5:03) / Revolution Road (7:41) / Forever Nights (5:40) / Ptolemy (5:49) / Gypsy (Of A Strange And Distant Time) (4:02) / Savor Every Moment (4:33)

Disc Two: Castles Fall (5:27) / UFO S.H.A.D.O. Theme (3:34) / Enjoy The Weather (8:50) / Pay Your Dues (5:12) / Eden Burns (4:08) / Hold That Thought (3:25) / House Of Cards (5:43) / After The Revolution (13:02)

Erik Norlander - keyboards
Mark McCrite - guitars, vocals; bass (2:3)
Don Schiff - NS/Stick; Chapman Stick (2:6)
David McBee - vocals (1:2, 3, 6; 2:4, 5, 7)
Gregg Bissonette - drums (ex. 1:4)
Greg Phelps - accordion (3)
Simon Philips - drums (intro/outro 1:4)
Shaun Guerin - drums (1:4)

Earthbound (1993)
Brutal Architecture (1995)
Earth Below And Sky Above - Live In Europe And America (1997)
Oblivion Days (1999)
Revolution Road (2006)
Looking Backward (box set) (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 18th 2006
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 13450
Language: english


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