Unified Past - From The Splintered Present Surfaces...

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Atomik Records
Catalog Number: ATM010
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:37:00

Well, I have to honestly tell you that I was not 100% impressed with Unified Past - I would say about 70%. That 70% covers the musicianship and the songs, the remaining thirty has to do with the vocals. If pushed, I'd say it's really about 80/20.

I hear so many different things in Unified Past's music, but mostly due to Stephen Speelman's vocals, I think of Mötley Crüe. Well, if Mötley Crüe were crunchy with Dream Theater-like prog metal tendencies. I've never been a Mötley Crüe fan, though I've liked a few selected tracks. However, I don't have problem with Unified Past's leanings in this direction, as I like Dream Theater, and hear a bit of Rush in their sound, too. That Rush-like feel comes to the fore in "Resonate." As John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg mentions in his review, Speelman also has a vocal similarity to Geddy Lee, though I don't seem to hear it the same as Bo Bo does. He does sing in the same high tone, and can emphasize things in a like way. If 70's Geddy Lee were singing on 90's Rush tunes then you'd have a good idea of what I hear - and "Resonate" is a perfect example because it could have easily come off of Roll The Bones, or, more likely, Counterparts. Oh, okay, there are moments during it that hark back to Signals ? but this is really putting too fine a point on it, because the fat, juicy, dark bass and the razor sharp guitar lines are far more Rush-like. The most Rush-like track "Dream Of Love" which closes the album ... in fact, listening to it from this perspective, it's quite eerie how much it does sound like Rush - not Rush at their best, but Rush nonetheless.

This band's stated goal is bringing music into the new millennium, and in doing so, acknowledging the past. That's a somewhat accurate distillation of the liner notes, which state, "in the north eastern region of the United States an underground movement has been developing and defining itself, dedicated to the renaissance and the expansion of a genre which borrows from all aspects of music history, progressive rock and instrumental guitar music." So, at least the "borrows" part is accurate.

Stephen Speelman is the main motivator behind Unified Past as its vocalist, guitarist, and major songwriter. The lyrics aren't included in the booklet ? in fact, except for the "mission statement" paragraph and the credits, there's isn't a booklet to speak of - though I quite like the cover art (designed by Red Hot Logos - http://www.redhotlogos.com). If you saw this, unware of the music inside, you might think it was a techno release based solely on the artwork.

Anyway, Speelman formed the band after having left Labyrinth - well, Long Island's Labyrinth; not to confused, I don't think, with the metal band Labyrinth (Fabio Leone is the vocalist there) and certainly not with the Italian band of the same name. [What was I thinking? Leone's was in the Italian band -SS Jan 2006] Though in Bo Bo's review, he suggests that Labyrinth changed their name to Unified Past because of the confusion with the other two [well, one -SS again]. Also comprising this quartet are Vinny Krivacsy on keyboards and vocals, Peter Palmieri on bass, and Matthew Wood on drums.

If Speelman were a stronger vocalist, this would be a lot closer to a winner. As I said, the musicianship is quite good. It isn't all crunchy rhythms though, as the more lyrical "Tree House" is quite nice, especially Speelman's guitar leads. Here there's a neo-prog feel to track - neo a la Marillion, Pendragon, etc. Maybe closer to the second wave of neo, rather, though there are darker tones about midway through that recall "classic" Marillion. Nice keys at the end, though not spectacular.

Head (4:59) / Internal Affairs (3:35) / Unearthed (4:57) / Tree House (5:39) / Just Like That (8:04) / Resonate (4:19) / Kingdom Of The Stars (4:35) / Silent Partner (3:27) / Stretch (7:31) / Dream Of Love (6:31)

Stephen Speelman - guitars, vocals
Vinny Krivacsy - keyboards
Peter Palmieri - bass
Mathew Wood - drums

From The Splintered Present Surfaces... (1999/2001)
Power Of Existence (2008/2009)
Breaking Up The Atmosphere (2009)
Tense (2009/2010)
Observations (2011)
Spots (2013)
Shifting The Equilibrium (2015)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: June 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.unifiedpast.com
Hits: 959
Language: english


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