Explorer's Club - Raising The Mammoth

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA 9046-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:28:00

Once again Trent Gardner has surpassed himself in writing and arranging the epic Raising The Mammoth which consists of only two (very lengthy) parts: one vocal and one instrumental. Surrounded by the [cr?me of the] crop of the current US progressive scene, how wrong can you get when you get none other than Terry Bozzio behind the drumkit? How wrong can you get when the vocal chords of Steve Walsh and James LaBrie (plus Trent himself) stretch as wide as they can? What's wrong when you enlist John Myung as bass player and ask Kerry Livgren, Marty Friedman and Gary Wehrkamp to be your guitarists? What's wrong showing your sympathy for the mammoth? NOTHING!

For the critic, however, it is not an easy task to describe the 44 individual tracks that make up the whole of the project. It isn't easy to describe a hefty project like this which has been announced for a long time as being a true masterpiece. James LaBrie's whispering chorus during "Broad Decay" makes me think of Glenn Hughes' best days with Purple. A step closer to the Dream Theater we got to know and admire with Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence is "Vertebrates" sung in unison between James LaBrie and Trent Gardner. Tracks 26 and 27 to me contain a pattern which I surely have heard somewhere before without really putting my finger on it. Whilst the vocal part might not exactly be what one would have expected, no doubt prog lovers' heaven will be all over the place during the instrumental second part subtitled "Prog-o-matic," "Gigantipithicus" with some bombastic, powerful keyboard chords leading the way. However the surprises one would expect are not delivered.

No doubt this entire project is a very ambitious one, but I'm afraid the end result is in no way the masterpiece we were all expecting. It would have been far better to alternate an instrumental section with a vocal section over and over again in order to have a better balance. As it stands, it's as if several musicians didn't give their best, making Raising The Mammoth far less interesting than Age Of Impact, as the latter had a wider diversity of music. Raising The Mammoth also is not as overwhelming as Leonardo: The Absolute Man. And if there's one animal whose sound is ideally suited to be reproduced by a trombone it surely is a mammoth! Sorry Trent!

Raising The Mammoth 1: (part one) Passage To Paralysis (15:03) - (part two) Broad Decay (11:43) - (part three) Vertebrates (11:17) / Raising The Mammoth 2 (AKA Prog-o-matic) 1) Gigantipithicus (instrumental) (28:44)

Terry Bozzio - drums
Marty Friedman - guitar
Trent Gardner - keyboards, vocals
James Labrie - vocals
Kerry Livgren - guitar
John Myung - bass
Mark Robertson - keyboards
Steve Walsh - vocals
Gary Wehrkamp - guitar

Age Of Impact (1998)
Raising The Mammoth (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin VA

Added: September 8th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenb

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Language: english


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