Freewill - Progressive Regression


Year of Release: 1998
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: E 9801
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:38:00

Out of the last batch of discs I've gotten, I've spent the most time with this one, and it will probably be the shortest review of them all. That's because I still don't know how to describe this disc; not because of greatness or uniqueness, but because for some reason comparable bands don't stick out immediately for me to pick out, or maybe they have so many influences I can't nail them down.

Don't let the name of the band fool you ... it's not what it appears. I'd like to be able to say that the band is a direct descendant of you-know-who, but it's not the case. I've tried like hell to pick out Rush in the sound, but I'm not hearing it. So who does the band sound like? I don't know. The best I can do is maybe a power version of a combination of many bands; maybe a small ounce of Rush, some Divine Regale circa Ocean Mind, and after that I lose the comparisons. I'm pretty much giving up on the sound at this point.

THE STYLE:

It's not going to do anyone any good to go into this because of the lack of influences, but I will say that the disc is very progressive. What the "regressive" means in the title I'm not sure of, but it certainly sounds modern to me. If they are referring to some of the small Rush influences from yesteryear, then I'll buy that. Other than that, this is a very modern sounding disc. The disc itself is 74:00 long[*]; when was the last time you saw an indy band put out a long one like that? The song lengths average from 7:00 to 12:00. There are many strange song structures, although not overly complex. The band tries to maintain some semblance of melodies that you can follow, but they mix it up along the way. I'd say that the song structure actually changes more than the tempos do. It's almost as if they write 2-3 songs within each song. It works very well indeed. They have no problem in the songwriting dept. The interesting thing is that I think the bands' intent is to add power to the prog, but due to the poor production, they only succeed at half of the intent. You know it's power / prog from the music, but not from the production aspect. Twin guitar runs abound here, because there are twin guitars driving the sound all of the way. No searing, soaring twin leads, but plenty of double structured guitar sounds here. There are VERY little keyboards here, maybe the occasional string here and there, but that's about it. Lots of quiet intro passages, leading in to the heavier parts start most of the songs.

THE BAND:

Tom Clark must be the brainchild of the band; he plays drums, keyboards, and all vocals. There are 2 guitarists, and they use "guest" bass players who obviously aren't in the band at this point. The band is credited with the writing, producing, mixing, etc etc. ... Nothing in the way of virtuosity stands out here, although I'm sure that Clark is mucho talented playing drums in a prog metal band and having to do the keys and vox as well. I'd pay a lot of money to see him do this in a live setting. All players are good, average musicians and I didn't hear one aspect of the playing that stood out. Everything in the talent division seems to be on an even par.

THE VOCALS:

The only singer I can think of that sounds like Tom Clark would be the guy from Pavlovs Dogs. Don't get all excited yet, it's in tonal quality only, not in range or emotion. If he could sing a bit higher, I think the tone would really match that singer, but Tom pretty much stays in one range, and doesn't push it in the emotional dept either. He has a nice, pleasant voice, but he doesn't make great use of it, and seems to be content in the sound of his voice rather than the style. Other times, he can be heard going slightly out of key, and this makes the disc sound like it was recorded in one take only.

THE PRODUCTION:

This is the weak part of the disc and should be the deciding factor for most. The drums are so tinny and weak, you'd never know this was supposed to be power metal except for the style of the music. There is practically no bass in the sound, and no matter how you crank this one, it comes up sounding tin can. The vocals are recorded au naturel, with little or no effects, and it sounds like it was recorded in a hurry. The guitars are clear, but with little or no punch to the sound. Just about every aspect of the recording of this disc is pushed back in the mix, making it sound like it was recorded in someone's garage. With more bass, more guitar punch, (hey, there's two of em), and better drum sound, it would greatly enhance the disc. As it is, I find it hard to listen to.

THE COMMENTS:

For an indy band, the writing is excellent and the songs are nice and long and progressive. However, you can hear the amateur recording, and there are lots of places you can hear the vocals going out of key, or maybe the drums and the vocal lines just slightly out of sync, as if they didn't have a chance to go back and fix the mistake. This disc sounds rushed as hell, and given the talent of the band, I hope that they continue and get the time and money they need to make it sound right. Just to admire songwriting, isn't enough however, and I surmise that anyone who grabs this disc won't be playing too much after a few listens, as it starts to sound monotone because of the poor sound. I can't recommend this disc as a purchase, I'd hear it first before buying.

[* not sure where the other 13 minutes come from... times add up to 61:38... hidden track perhaps? -ed.]


Tracklisting:
Indifference (6:50) / Escape To Daylight (9:02) / The Storm (6:53) / Unmasked (10:45) / Erase The Memory (8:58) / Sheltered Life (6:55) / Progressive Regression (12:15)

Musicians:
Tom Clark - vocals, keyboards, and drums
Chad Heyroth - guitars
Paul Bakalars- guitars
Jason Peck - bass

Discography:
Progressive Regression (1998)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Hits: 1899
Language: english

  

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