Various - Progressive Compilation I: Unearthed

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Fossil Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:28:00

A couple of the artists on Fossil Record's Progressive Compilation I: Unearthed have already been reviewed by me, they being Reindel and Inner Resonance, so I'll look first at those artists who are new to me. What plagues Defyance, who open this compilation with "From The Sky" from 1999's Time Lost (album reviewed by LarryD), plagues a few other bands on this release in that the production makes them sound very tinny. I thought it was the bands themselves, but when everything switches about halfway through, I'm leaning more towards the production aspect.

"From The Sky" shows the promise of Defyance, where this perfomance is a bit loose, a bit too shrill on the keyboard's high notes and the guitars suffering from that tinniness. Vocalist Scott Andreas' voice seems a little limp at times, but overall all it's an okay track. It has to be said that Larry had a different, more favourable opinion of Andreas' voice. Time Lost is on my review schedule, so I'll have to see what I think of the whole album.

Up next is Endangered Species with "Deliverance" from Colours Among The Blind (1999). While Endangered Species have the moves and feel of a prog metal band, their sound is closer to prog rock. Again, it may be the production on this disk, but the sound seems a little thin. The band seems young, as well, as there is, like above, a certain looseness.

Jeffrey Ryan Smoots, guitarist with Inner Resonance is next, with "Wings Of Gold" which is one part Rush, one part 80's arena rock. It starts with a beefy percussion and guitar then changes to chugging guitar, drums and vocals -- I kept thinking of Sammy Hagar's "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" due a certain vocal melody at a couple of points. Smoots solos with fluidity and has a very nice tone. Because Smoots appears a few tracks later on "Solar Wind" from Inner Resonance, I'll talk about these two tracks together. I'm not sure if it's Smoots on vocals on the former, but his IR cohort Peter Orullian is the stronger of the two vocalists, where his voice on "Solar Wind" just soars. And yes, those who are watching closely will notice I said almost exactly the same thing in my review of Solar Voices?a fact I noticed after I wrote the previous sentence. For those who haven't cross-referenced, Orullian sounds a lot like Geoff Tate (Queensryche). But, that isn't to say the vocalist (or Smoots) is a bad vocalist, because he isn't. My first listen through I wanted to say he was a little flat, but upon reflection, that's not really true. "Wings" has a very big sound and seems too short?the way it fades out, I'm wondering if it isn't an edited version.

Singularity want to be Rush. A fact evident in everything from the guitars to the way they've structured the track. Only Rush didn't have the swirly keyboards, or piano-like interludes, making "Ebb & Flow" only mostly like late 80's Rush. If you think about Signals, you'll have an idea of Singularity's starting point. The snick-snick of the drums is very dry, yet squishy. Rather than sounding exactly like Rush, however, they sound more like Big Picture sounding like Rush?it's not a bad track, and the piano parts are quite nice, but?

Piano and keyboards (probably all keyboards) open Cerafim's "Sides Of A Different Kind." There's an awkward transition to guitars, but otherwise this is nice transition. Perhaps a little poppy - oh Honeymoon Suite come to mind, more stylistically than anything. Glass Tiger and other hard-pop-rock bands of that ilk. This has a catchy chorus, and the sound is big. In fact, in comparison to the album to this point, it is so much louder. The sound is clearer, brighter. There is a Radio Ready logo on the back of the sleeve and this track certainly is?if it were still 1989.

"From Where You Stand" is Third Voice's contribution to this album, and like Cerafim, it seems strong and tight from the get go. There is an awkward contrast between keys and vocals, where the keys are mixed a little too high at this point. But for that, I think this is a very fine track, standing on the border between hard prog rock and metal. Musically, I thought a little bit of Vanden Plas, but without the metal edge. The vocalist voice is pleasant, but fairly non-descript. In that, he sounds like many vocalists without sounding like any of those often imitated. The keys do get out of the way for the guitar solos and these are, by far, the best segments of the track, based on balance alone. Quite promising.

Orion Syndrome give us "Weather Report" which is mainly keys and percussion and may all be synthesized as the drums don't sound entirely acoustic. There's bass in there, too, along with vocals. This is different from anything else on here, somewhat quirky. It is futuristic sounding, meaning more it is someone's idea of what music will sound in the future when everything is synthesized. Though I don't imagine they're wearing inverted plant pots on their heads, you might term them a smoother Devo.

The Franklin-Neumann Project brings us back to guitar based rock, backed by solid percussion and steady bass. There's a certain muscularity here ? the term that comes to mind is music performed by cowboys of the digital age. I guess how the Eagles would sound with digital instruments, leaving the vocals to Randy Meisner.

In contrast to what comes before it, excepting Smoots, Reindel's "Extinction Level Event" (track 4) seems very tight and polished. I'm quite pleased with the latter half of this disk, and mostly pleased with the first half. As a sample of what Fossil Records' is distributing, it is a good introduction. Oh yes, in case you didn't notice, all the tracks have sci-fi themes to one degree or another, if not the band.

From The Sky (Defyance) (5:48) / Deliverance (Endangered Species) (4:00) / Wings Of Gold (Jeffrey Ryan Smoots) (4:14) / Extinction Level Event (Reindel) (4:11) / Ebb & Flow (Singularity) (7:36) / Sides Of A Different Kind (Cerafim) (4:28) / From Where You Stand (Third Voice) (6:06) / Solar Wind (Inner Resonance) (5:00) / Weather Report (Orion Syndrome) (3:25) / Event Horizon (The Franklin-Neumann Project) (5:41)



Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin VA

Added: April 25th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 690
Language: english


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