Listen - Close Your Eyes And You're There

Year of Release: 1999
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:47:00

Having given a few listens to this disk since its arrival, my general assessment is that Listen are earnest enough in their playing, trying for a diverse album. However, they fall short of the mark.

There are some great moments, and I find the drumming to be very good - and very up in the mix. The keys are the next best thing about the album, and are also often up in the mix. From there, it is a sliding scale down through the remaining instruments, including vocals.

All members contribute (to the) lyrics (and vocals), but only "Prometheus" consistently makes any sense - perhaps because it is based on the Greek mythological tale of Prometheus, and follows the linear track of the tale. The opening track, "Methuselah's Children," contains the lyric "In the blankets caught between my ears..." - and while understood on a metaphoric level, seems an awfully strange one to make. But, one can overlook such things if everything else is in place. I suspect if I picked over the lyrics of many bands whom I love, I'd find similar, odd, lyrics.

Nevertheless, I find quite a bit more lacking in Close Your Eyes And You're There, such that the lyrics are really the least of it. The vocals are, to me, often subpar. Chris Benner is fine, in a typical high-pitched metal way, when singing solo, but when accompanied in harmony with the rest of the band, this becomes very annoying, and ... well, simply, bad. By bad I mean, off key, for one. Benner seems to strain for the higher pitch - my suggestion for their follow up is for Benner to stop trying.

Drummer Jim Harker, who also produced this album along with guitarist Darin Sutton (and thus the drums-up-front mix), sings lead vocals on the second track "Broken Glass." I like his tone better than Benner's, though he does flatten the notes. Sutton sings on "Fear Of The Dark" (not a Maiden cover tune), and while he doesn't have a great voice, he's the best of the bunch. Deep and rich tone wise, but not deathy. If he'd handled vocals for the whole disc, I'd like this better. Blakk, from a band called Angelkill, provides "death" vocals on the "Methuselah's Children," but except for a word here and there, can't really be heard (unfortunately, as I like the sound on those sprinkling of words).

Okay, what's right about this disk? The drums. Very diverse playing, using what sounds like the entire kit - dynamic. In the first track, the guitars are also spot on. The rest of the instruments are mush. A nice keyboard solo opens "Broken Glass," followed by a not-so-great guitar solo. The transition between notes is poor and the sound is clunky like early Eddie Van Halen (which if well played, wouldn't be bad). This then becomes a rockier track that made me think of Drifting Sun's "The Charade," but not as crisp (and darn if I can't get *that* track outta my head now).

I also have to given Listen credit for not being yet another Dream Theater clone - I hear more an Iron Maiden influence around the edges. In places, it seems more thrashy than prog metal, but it does have several moods.

The potential is there - better mixing, better playing, stronger vocals would help. Oh, and I'd lose the "synth axe sax" as it sounds truly awful - for that sax sound, find a real saxophonist. All the warmth that a sax should bring to a track, is sucked out by this synth instrument (used here on "Broken Glass," which does feature a very nice keyboard piece).

Jim McAnally is the bassist, and gets his turn in the spotlight on the instrumental "Lifecycles" - unfortunately, I don't care for his playing here, though I think I hear a "quote" from Rush (that I can't, at the moment, place). The track itself is shrill and harsh, and the keys sound more like a MIDI file - high pitched and tinny are the words that come to mind.

The bonus track is "Cursing Infinity," a classically influenced keyboard piece that truly resembles a wall of sound - assigning the sound a color, I'd have to say flesh pink comes to mind (for some reason).

Well, it's not surprising then for me to tell you that I don't care for this album.

Methuselah's Children (8:05) / Broken Glass (14:02) / Prometheus (4:48) / Lifecycles - Symphony #1 (21:33) / Fear of the Dark (9:49) / Cursing Infinity (2:30)

Jim Harker - drums, percussion and vocals
Chris Benner - keyboards and vocals
Darin Sutton - guitars and vocals
Jim McAnally - bass and vocals

Close Your Eyes And You're There (1999)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: October 11th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 953
Language: english


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