Syzygy - Realms Of Eternity
Year of Release: 2009
Label: FHL Records
Catalog Number: 8 2777092786 9
Total Time: 77:10:00
A bit of a buzz surrounds this disc and the band that created it. The cover of the latest Progression magazine pronounces Syzygy "the best prog band you've never heard." Shortly after reading the issue, I received a copy of Realms Of Eternity and, while I still haven't decided if Syzygy is the best prog band I've never heard (you see, I've heard them now and?.), I do think that their latest disc is certainly one of the best discs of 2009. This is quite a surprise for moi at least, for I tried initially to avoid listening to this disc and writing this review.
For those of you who are ignorant of Syzygy's work, as I have been until very recently, the band has a modern, heavy take on classic European style progressive rock. With the high energy immediacy of metal and the studied perfection of 1970's vintage symphonic prog, Syzygy blends the best of old and new to present us with a very satisfying and exciting new release. For lack of any better reference, Realms Of Eternity reminds this listener of the recent works of bands like Presto Ballet, Darwin's Radio and echoes of Transatlantic's first release, all mixed with the Swedish sound of, ah ? let's say Simon Says and The Flower Kings as well as hints of ELP, Yes, Gentle Giant and even Lucifer's Friend on the disc's fine opening track "Darkfield." The band members are all extremely talented players and Syzygy's well developed music allows a multitude of opportunities for them to make use of that talent. This time the band brings in a guest vocalist, Mark Boals, on a couple of tracks to raise the vocal level of excellence to the same heights as their instrumental work. This is all to the good, as this release, despite my best efforts to the contrary, has quickly grown to be one of my favorite discs of recent years.
Following "Dark Field" is the excellent instrumental, "Vanitas," and then "Dreams," with its serpentine center section and powerful vocals, particularly in the tunes anthemic chorus. At this point a break from the exhilaration of the first three very energetic tracks is needed and Syzygy provides just that with "Echoes Remain." Nimble acoustic guitar blends with synthesized strings and flutes and the band delivers more relaxed and pleasantly wispy vocals here.
Coming next is "Dialectic" where Syzygy turns their highly focused approach to what at first appears to be another gentle acoustic oriented piece of material. A quick look at the liner notes however reveals that this will be a 16 minute opus. A magnificent ride ensues as the initial theme is played upon again and again, broken each time with jubilant and imaginative instrumental passages. The ensemble work by this band is incomparable and their fine song craft allows each member their time to shine within the framework of strong melody, smoothly executed counterpoint and complex harmony lines.
Finishing off the disc is the groups epic, "The Sea," a nearly 30 minute multi-part suite. As befits its title, "The Sea" encompasses calm and gentle interludes and raging, crashing waves of swirling instrumental interplay.
You know how in every prog album there those passages in some tunes that just don't hold your interest? Well, on this release, there are remarkably few. Syzygy's music is nearly always completely engaging and, dare I say, at times transcendent.
A band this good that I was unaware of, how is this possible?
One of the best things about progressive rock music is the thrill of finding a wonderful new band or a fine new album and with the release of Realms Of Eternity, I get to enjoy both aspects of a new discovery. Syzygy is a band I'll be paying close attention to in the future and their new disc is one I'll be keeping in the CD changer for some time, I'm sure.
Without question, Realms Of Eternity is a must have disc.
Dark Field (10:35) / Vanitas (6:02) / Dreams (10:31) / Echoes Remain (5:23) / Dialectic (16:35) / The Sea: Arranmore Isle (2:04) / Overture (2:42) / The Sea (5:22) / The Morning Song (3:26) / Variations, Part 1 (4:04) / Variations, Part 2 (3:15) / Reflections (1:44) / Finale (5:27)
Carl Baldassarre - guitar, Theremin, lead and backing vocals
Sam Giunta - keyboards
Paul Mihacevich - percussion, drums, backing vocals
Al Rolik - bass guitar, backing vocals
Mark Boals - vocals (1, 3, 5, & "The Sea" suite)
Virginia Crabtree - flute
Michael DeBruyn - cello
Erica Ward - violin
Peggy McLaughlin - vocals
Witsend - Cosmos And Chaos (1993)
The Allegory Of Light (2003)
Realms Of Eternity (2009)
Genre: Progressive Rock
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