Syzygy - The Allegory Of Light

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Syzygy Music Enterprises
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:49:00

When I ordered the album Cosmos And Chaos by Witsend from the Laser?s Edge some ten years ago, I could never have predicted that the same line-up would be able to deliver a first class album like The Allegory Of Light a decade later. Cosmos And Chaos had its moments, but mainly consisted of shorter solo tracks either by guitarist Carl Baldassarre or by keyboard player Sam Giunta. Few tracks were really group compositions, so Witsend?s debut album sounded like a mixture of ideas. Ten years certainly enables people to grow and that?s exactly what you hear on this new album. Without exaggeration, The Allegory Of Light does indeed contain all of the highlights one would associate with the biggest names in the history of prog, whether it?s Yes or Genesis, Gentle Giant or King Crimson, Zappa or OSI, Dream Theater or Spock?s Beard.

Maybe we?ll have to regard the trio's first album as kind of youthful transgression whilst the new album is the result of intellectual, skilled, professional musicians. I must admit I have a little problem with the band?s name now as Syzygy kind of reminds me of Ziggy Stardust, but believe me this music has very little to do with Bowie. Whilst Carl?s guitar often sounds like Steve Howe's, it?s mainly Paul Mihacevich?s drum technique that gets very close to that of Carl Palmer. So weaving all these styles into one new musical venture automatically has you think of all these big names, whether vintage or contemporary. Also from a vocal perspective the band does a good job holding the middle between accessible AOR and interesting singer/songwriter material. "Beggar?s Tale" is a nice example of this, focussing on an acoustic guitar that sounds crisp and crystal clear whilst also delivering a slight Spanish feel. The title track "Distant Light" is the kind of material that really gives this release an extra boost when compared to a lot of recent prog releases. This one really rocks and has all the instruments perfectly working together as opposed to seperately. There is a small section that uses synthesized brass which, of course, I would have loved to be real brass, but maybe our trio wanted to prove they can do everything by themselves so they can hit the road without having to drag extra musicians around.

Whilst one could already detect some medieval influences on Witsend?s album, these elements also pop up on The Allegory Of Light, although they are more masked, or should I say better embedded, in the arrangements? Listen to "Zinjanthropus" and you know what I mean. I especially like the part where keyboards and guitar play the same scales together prior to the piano getting a solo spot, as if the storm lies down and a new day begins. Piano and drums here often sound like authentic ELP during their Works period. This part certainly contrasts enormously with the guitar driven parts in "Industryopolis," which once again contains plenty of drum breaks next to acoustic passages. We talked about medieval elements and strangely enough these seem to be apparent each time the acoustic guitar is in sight. "Forbidden" is once again just such an example where Carl almost evokes the class and perfection of John Williams. To me it?s that constant variation between soft acoustic material and hard energetic stuff that makes listening to Syzygy such a pleasure. The instrumental "Light Speed" holds the middle between furious fusion and Deep Purple, with a small wink in the direction of Keith More?s solo album Guitar Stories. That Deep Purple link becomes even more clear when Hammond is inserted during the final track "The Journey Of Myrrdin." With its seventeen minutes, surely there are plenty of fantastic parts on offer here. In fact I have to admit that certain parts remind me of that other great American band: Yoke Shire. Then again a small section in the beginning of this lengthy track sounds very much like contemporary Rick Wakeman. As you can see there are loads of influences and elements, but they all come out of the golden book of progressive rock, so you will love every single second of this mouthwatering album. Again some medieval elements crop up, but they are once again performed on a synth. This is certainly something the band has to look into for the future, as I?m convinced there are plenty of musicians out there who want to help out as guests. Wouldn?t it be fab to hear real flute, cello, violin, etc ? on their next album? And please guys, don?t wait another ten years!

The Allegory Of Light: M.O.T.H. (11:20) / Beggar?s Tale (2:47) / Distant Light (5:35) / In The Age Of Mankind: Zinjanthropus (12:31) / Industryopolis (6:33) / Forbidden (3:22) / Light Speed (2:58) / The Journey Of Myrrdin (17:29)

Carl Baldassarre - electric, acoustic and classical guitars, guitar synth, bass guitar, vocals
Sam Giunta - piano, synthesizers
Paul Mihacevich - drums, percussion, vocals

Witsend - Cosmos And Chaos (1993)
The Allegory Of Light (2003)
Realms Of Eternity (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 5th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 647
Language: english


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