Explorer's Club - Age Of Impact

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9021-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:29:00

It goes without saying that the playing on this album is excellent - solos abound, plenty of opportunities for the instrumentalists to shine. Because this is Trent Gardner's baby, so to speak, his indelible lyrical, structural, and vocal style are very much in evidence. You can't help thinking of his own band Magellan, no more evident than in the first track. Gardner's style has been refined since Magellan debuted with Hour of Restoration.

Explorer's Club is more than just a Trent Gardner side project - in a way, this is a "supergroup" effort, a supergroup that features Bret Douglas, Matt Bradley, James LeBrie, D.C. Cooper , Terry Bozzio, Billy Sheehan, John Petrucci, Steve Howe, James Murphy, Frederick Clarke, Derek Sherinan, Matt Guillory, Michael Bemesderfer and Wayne Gardner.

It's the instrumental sections and solos that take flight here; Petrucci's playing shows far more verve and energy than Dream Theater's last studio release (equal to, perhaps, his Liquid Tension Experiment workouts). Steve Howe plays a beautiful acoustic solo during the interlude of "Impact 4-Time Enough."

Lyrically this is an overwhelming pessimistic album - one last shred of optimism remains in a defiant stand that keeps asserting itself, even at the end. Of course, that shred gets the last word, so maybe it's not so pessimistic after all. It is, however, overlong. It's an idea stretched out for more than fifty minutes. Short by today's CD-length standards, but seems more like an excuse to allow everyone an opportunity to solo? Or take their turn at the mike. There are enough textures to keep it interesting. The Howe solo - which actually is part of an extended multi-artist solo with Gardner, Sheehan, and Bemesderfer all getting their chance - is one the more sedate and lyrical moments on what is mostly bombastic prog-metal.

Mind you, I realize it's a hallmark of classic prog to have multi-part suites - variations on a theme, and the like. That is true here to, it's just that there doesn't seem to be any progress, one idea restated in various ways.

Overall, I'd recommend Age of Impact, especially if you are a fan of any of these artists. I am, and I want to like it so much more than I do. Perhaps not on constant replay, but certainly not tossed in the discard bin. [You don't even have a discard bin - ED.]

Impact 1 - Fate Speaks (16:00) / Impact 2 - Fading Fast (8:45) / Impact 3 - No Returning (8:20) / Impact 4 - Time Enough (9:15) / Impact 5 - Last Call (11:10)

Terry Bozzio - drums
Billy Sheehan - bass
Trent Gardner - keyboards, trombone
Wayne Gardner - electric and acoustic guitars, additional bass
Bret Douglas, Matt Bradley, James LaBrie, D.C. Cooper, Trent Gardner - vocals
John Petrucci, James Murphy, Frederick Clarke, Steve Howe - guitars
Derek Sherinian, Matt Guillory - keyboards
Michael Bemesderfer - flute and wind controller
Brad Kaiser - additional midi programming

Age of Impact (1998)
Raising The Mammoth (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin VA

Added: April 10th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1433
Language: english


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