Year of Release: 1996
Label: Now And Then Records
Catalog Number: NTHEN 31
Total Time: 00:00:00
Thanks to the efforts of my fellow proggers, Clive and Dotte, I finally have this disc in my hands ... couldn't have done it without them ... thanks guys ... :O)
The bottom line of this disc: It's an AOR version of Dream Theater ... sounds a little strange, but I have to admit, this is the closest band that sounds like Dream Theater that is NOT a metal band ... If it still sounds confusing, then it must be prog rock?? Well, again, try to imagine what Dream Theater would sound like playing Awake without the heavy crunch and flashy keyboard solos, and you have The Quest ... I still can't figure out why I like this disc so much, especially when there is so much AOR music out there to choose from ... one reason could the similarities to DT, the other could be the beautiful melodies this band puts out, then again it might be the keyboard-driven sound they have ... whatever it is, it works well ...
Much in the same style as Dream Theater's Awake only without the heavy crunch, and the soaring keys ... instead, the band mixes the guitar with the keyboards to create a more mellow, yet beautiful sound rather than two separate instruments that stand out on their own ... Thus, I have to say that this band is keyboard driven because of the heavy use of background keys, and the guitar is complemented with the keyboard, much as with Royal Hunt, where you know its a keyboard-driven sound but you can still hear the guitar playing along side of the massive sound ... I will keep making reference to Awake because its the first thing that popped into my head when I heard this band ... this is just the AOR version of that disc, and a beauty it is ... lots of the disc has just the keyboard and singer going at it together, and both are beautiful sounding ... there are lots of slow, piano-intros with the singer taking over, and then it kicks in to the song. You get the feeling that each song is going to be a ballad and then all of a sudden the melodies kick in. It's very well done ... A lot of the themes have to do with life and death, and I get the feeling that someone close to a member of this band died, leaving them with lots of empty, unanswered questions about life in general ... some of it can be quite cheesy, but then again it is AOR, and we have accepted this with the genre ... fortunately, the beauty of the music takes your mind quickly off this aspect of the music...
This sounded excellent on tape ... it sounded outstanding on disc ... the recording is pristine, and every single instrument reaches out and grabs you and pulls you right into the music ... even the small cymbal taps along the way can be heard, along with every single word that is being sung ... just an outstanding job ... I did notice quite the separation in my speakers as well, in that someone was VERY conscious about where and how every instrument was to be placed and heard at particular times ...
Quite simply, it's James LaBrie ... well, his name is Steve Murray*, but you would swear all the way that it was James LaBrie singing in a band before he joined Dream Theater ... Steve has the luck to have been blessed with a voice almost identical to LaBrie's, and has opted to even imitate the gasping breaths that LaBrie uses after most of his words ... LaBrie fans know what I mean when I say this ... the major difference is, that Murray chooses to stay in the mid-range of his blessed voice, and does not once scream throughout the disc ... I would imagine that he could go as high as anyone out there if he had to, but I am also guessing that doing so would take away from the beauty of their music, and when you combine a voice like his with the emotional, pristine beauty of this music, it makes for quite the combination ... Murray also plays saxophone on a couple of cuts, adding to the atmosphere of the music ...
Vocals, guitar, keyboard, drums, bass ... the usual complement of players, except that here it is the keyboard player who stands out the most ... while not used as a soloist, it is his sounds of pianos and synths that create the background for this beautiful sound they have ... the guitarist is quite adequate for this band, although he has very few solos throughout the disc, so it is hard to tell exactly what style he is ... however, his playing along the side of the keyboard player meshes well, and I have noticed that lots of bands are using this approach to their music ... it seems to take away from the usual melody, chorus, solo back to melody style that has plagued music for so long ... and, I haven't mentioned it yet, but this band does get quite progressive at times ... and it is those times that remind me exactly of Dream Theater's Awake ... if you put John Petrucci in front of this band, lots of these songs could end up on Awake ... don't get me wrong, it's just the song structures that I am referring to when I say this ... there is plenty of power missing from this disc to make it a DT disc, but the structures are really the same throughout the disc ... this band chooses to remain a bit laid back instead of crank it up ... this could be quite the prog metal disc if were this way ... the drummer is not a heavy hitter, nor does he need to be for the type of music he is playing with ... and the bass keeps right along with him, as the whole band creates a great mesh of sound rather than have a stand alone instrument that hits you first ...
Overall, if you don't like AOR music, or are looking for any sense of power, this disc will not do it for you ... however, if you are looking for some great prog / AOR melodies, with a great keyboard-driven sound, that resembles a DT Awake sound at times, this disc will do it for you ... Keep in mind, the power level will be turned way down, but there is no denying that this is beautiful music ... as I understand it, the band no longer exists, and I have never seen the disc for sale anywhere ... if you are a sucker for great singers, and gorgeous keyboard-driven songs, this will really please you ... remember DT's "Wait For Sleep"??? Lots of that to be found here ... this is a real treat, and its nice to see bands making music like this, that really covers quite a few genres of music, and manages to remain so beautiful in the process ...
[*After some intense research, here's what I've ascertained about The Quest. At first I thought that this was their first album and that Do You Believe was their second, but that is not the case. So... what started out as what I thought to be correction to Larry's review (some 6 years later) is actually just some interesting tidbits. The original vocalist, Andy Shaw, left the band to join Say, where he replaced Steve Murray on vocals. Later Shaw left Say, Murray returned. Shaw left The Quest again to join 2 Die 4, and then left 2 Die 4 to rejoin The Quest. In the meantime, while Shaw as with 2 Die 4, The Quest secured a deal with Now And Then Records, and recorded their debut, Do You Believewith David Shaun Owens on vocals. By the time the second album was recorded, Shaw had come and gone. And replacing him? Steve Murray, who recorded this album, Change with the band. I should credit Rock Detector as the source for the facts here in this footnote (and TrendFabrik for some additional info). -ed. 8/05]
Change / Inner Room / Turn Away / To Breathe / Afterlife II (For Those You Leave) / Stand / Afterlife I (For Those Left Behind) / Do You Believe / Beyond The Brave / Epitaph
Steve Murray - vocals
Andy Bennet - guitar
Pete Dunn - bass
Graham Woodcock - keyboards
Andy Coffey - drums
Do You Believe (1994)
Genre: Melodic Rock-AOR