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Garsed/Helmerich (Brett Garsed & T.J. Helmerich) - Quid Pro Quo
Gazpacho - Get it While It's Cold
GB Arts - Return To Forever
Ghost Machinery - Haunting Remains
Gigur - Fin Del Tiempo
Glass Hammer - Chronometree
Gonzo - s/t
Gratto - Anakin Tumnus
Greyhaven - s/t
Gronholm - Silent Out Loud
Grontved, Steen - Night Vision Goggles
Brett Garsed & T.J. Helmerich - Quid Pro Quo
'Quid Pro Quo' is the first album from the guitar duo project by Brett Garsed and T.J. Helmerich. This release was originally released in 1992 through the Legato Records of Mark Varney; but nowadays it is one of difficult cds to find in the regular record shops -- I know that's a big bammer for technical guitar fans. Fortunately, I could score the copy of Garsed and Helmerich cd at the local store in my hometown. Their first album contains great technical fusion instrumentals like "Subway", jazzy rock with complexity ("Punch Line"), a few vocal-oriented songs ("Dirty Work" and "So Hard To Say") and some laid-back yet bluesy type ones as well. A bit surprising to find out that this album is not full of all mind-blowing technical instrumentals. The cd of 'Quid Pro Quo' includes varied and unique tunes featuring fantastic great guitar works of Garsed and Helmerich. If you are very familiar of what these musicians play, both guitarists are interestingly versatile yet excellent musicians who give really great impressions. The central focus of this cd is of course two guitar players' instrumental prowess and extraordinary musicianship, yet the supporting members of the band are all impressive to make the album exciting and powerful. I wanted to hear more technically demanding progressive-leaning instrumentations more, but I'm completely satisfied with the whole music displayed from start to finish. There are tons of great instrumental moments with a great production and nice arrangements. For the fans of complex fusion instrumentals and jazzy rock, the Quid Pro Quo cd woud satisfy them completely. Except for some tunes, some people would demand more technical oriented interplays and superb works. Nevertheless, the group on the album have proven that they are all seasoned and great instrumental performers in the fusion rock scene. Highlights of the cd are the intriguing tunes like -- technical and punchy "Subway", jazzy and hard driven "Punch Line" and epic and diverse title number "Quid Pro Quo" etc. Any work involving Brett Garsed and T.J. Helmerich always impress me a lot. Highly recommended for someone who gets into the bands and artists like Tribal Tech, Frank Gambale, Chick Corea Electric Band, Planet X, T-Lavits and Steve Morse of Dixie Dregs. Absolutely wonderful guitar-based music with fusion elements.
Gazpacho - Get it While It's Cold (promo cd)
Norwegian modern melodic rocker, Gazpacho is Oslo-based unique young talented band having some kind of slight melodic progressive rock touches without going to complex prog territory. The name of Gazpacho instantly reminds me of Marillion, but their music and style is not too similar to Marillion, so do not expect symphonic laden neo-progressive rock sounds like Marillion and IQ. As a courtesy of Gazpacho, I received their promo cd featuring four tracks. Overall, their music is very accessible, radio-friendly, atmospheric and mesmerizing. Indeed, the lead vocalist has sort of similiar quality of current Marillion's lead vocalist, Steve Hogarth. Unlike Steve Hogarth of Marillion, he does not go to higher range very much, rather he stays in middium range with the style of story-telling way. The tones of vocal melodies are not so happy, but not too depressed. Generally speaking, their music is kind of atmospherically flowing melodic music without hard edged guitars. In addition, their music do not go to wild progressive instrumental ensembles. Never it seems. However, all four tracks are really well constructed to have a relax time to sip a cup of coffee and tea with listening to nice music. Their music stays mostly in the territory of Marillion and Saga's softer/milder sides with the elements of British Melodic Pop/Rock style. Indeed, most tunes are kind of vocal oriented music with some emphasis on bass and modern/retro keyboards (occasionaly, using the atmospheres of analog electric piano, analog strings, etc.). Drums do not sound up-front or far back, rather it stays in good mix. The acoustic and clean guitars are used more often, too. Gazpacho might not be categorized as merely pop rock or melodic rock. It is hard to pinpoint what they sound like, simply they make emotional melodic symphonic catchy rock without cliche of all rock and prog. They still keep making other fine tunes, so stay tuned for this talented young melodic rock group's future offering.
GB Arts - Return to Forever
There are tons of Germany Metal bands coming out in the world of Metal. From my listening experience, it seems that some German prog metal bands like Ivanhoe, Dreamscape, and Vanden Plas create really interesting and great music. I have some hits and miss from most bands from Germany, but the bands from Germany have been continuously releasing good quality albums. GB Arts is one of them who make unique and melodic prog metal music with good quality. On their first album, "Return to Forever", GB Arts tried to make some sort of heavy, yet energetic powerful prog metal that sound like Dream Theater, Mind Odyssey, and Ivanhoe. In most tunes, GB Arts keep semi-complex proggy metal instrumentations with good amounts of keyboard solos and guitar playing. On a few other tunes, they are performing in the vein of staight-forward melodic metal with intelligent German elements. They do not play too technical. For example, the guitar player does not play blistering solos very often. Rather, they use heavy guitar riffs most of the time, and some more keyboard works in prog metal/neo-prog way. Moderately, they want to make more vocal-oriented songs with some intricacies and epic atmospheres. The artwork of Return To Forever looks really epic and mystical as well as their music inside. This album used to be kind of difficult to find out for me, but hopefully GB Arts' catalog will be available in everywhere. If you like melodic German Prog Metal bands, GB Arts is recommended band to enjoy. I start enjoying their style and intelligent music on Return to Forever.
Ghost Machinery - Haunting Remains
Sound Riot Records
A new rising melodic power metal oriented label, Sound Riot Records, has been working so hard to push their label artists/bands enthusiastically in the field of power metal/heavy metal. Finland-based melodic power metaller, Ghost Machinery, offers polished melodic power metal in the vein of Stratovarius and Nightwish. On the other hand, they also sound sometimes kind of similar to Evergrey, Sanvoisen, and other strong Euro-style metal bands. Until I got the information from Sound Riot Records, I have never heard of Ghost Machinery. However, what they perform on Haunting Remains is really well-produced, and the performance by the band sound really cohesive and solid. Basically, they are really good at playing uptempo and speedy melodic power metal, but they put several other varieties on the album to sound fresh and interesting for power metal oriented listeners. In my case, I prefer more mid-tempo powerful metal sounds with unique twists than speedier sections, though speedy parts sound very solid. I think they are very keen on melodies, so very accessible for even the first listening experience. Their composition skills are also pretty good on power metal sounds in general. Playing-wise, they have immediate punchy sounds and solid performance. I do not usually buy Euro-style power metal nowadays, because I come to know that there are lots of Euro-type power metal bands that sound very similar and samey except for some. Nevertheless, Ghost Machinery takes care of melody and well-constructed compositions, so what Ghost Machinery put different ingredients on the sounds like symphonic power sounds and heavy neo-classical essence to make intersting and fresh. I hope the bands like Ghost Machinery keep a good job to make a strong power metal albums. Recommended for the fans of straight-forward power metal and Euro-style melodic power metal.
[Ghost Machinery website]: http://www.ghost.tapsanet.net/
[Sound Riot Records]: http://www.soundriot.net/
Gigur - Fin Del Tiempo
'Fin Del Tiempo' is Gigur's 1st full-length debut album. Until checking out the music of Gigur, I have not been actually familiar with Mexican prog music, except for complex prog metal band like Dimention. Unlike Dimention's complex heavier style, Gigur seems to perform diverse, yet sophisticated heavy prog music including both nice electric rock tracks and emotional acoustic sections to my ears. According to the promo info and pictures courtesy by Gigur camp (thanks a lot for the group); they formed the group in Monterrey, Mexico in 2003.
Obviously, Gigur is focused on guitar-driven sophisticated prog music, yet their music hardly moves into metal domain deeply quite often. However, they draw the influences of art rock, metal, and some electronic soundscapes. Mostly, Gigur put the emphasis on melodic prog instrumentation and somewhat art-rock sections over technical chops and symphonic extra-baganzza. In the beginning, the opening track called "Bebiendo..." seems to sound quite minimalistic and collage-ish arrangements in somewhat the live environment. I was wondering this band might have been kind of categorized under the electronica/prog file, but my instant assumption was totally wrong. You could hear they are a fine Mexican art rock/prog band. Except for the ending track, most tracks they perform are cleverly arranged and constructed. Henceforce, it's a quite pleasant experience for me to listen to it entirely.
The second track, "Fin Del Tiempo", has a really nice and modern rock vibe and sensitive guitar solos with excellent chorus works. I suggest they need to include more vocal tracks in the future. Somewhat, Latin melodic rock band called Nuclear Valdes and some others come to my mind while listening to the second track, even though there are completelyl different approaches and influences between these bands. I priase second track highly for Gigur!
On the other hand, some other tracks remind me a bit of the prog fusion artists like Steve Morse and Pat Metheny without leaning too technical move. Of course, Gigur themselves retain their own original charms and elements, so do not get disappointed. The fifth track, "Quintaesencia", has also nice movement and instrumental approach, again both Ivan Tamez and Jorge Bringas are doing their excellent guitar works. My highlights for this album are longer epic piece of "Pasagero" and their heaviest bombast track, "Diferentes pero iguales". With each spinining of the cd, you would find new discovery and enjoyment.
What a nice newcomer from Mexico. I notice that Mexico seems paying attention to prog music in general, so no wonder the young talented group like Gigur pops up nowadays. I think Latin America and central American prog rock scenes have been getting stronger, after having listend to the music of Gigur several times. Congratulations for the nice work. If you are a fan of art prog music in new tendencies and sophisticated emotional guitar-oriented prog fusion, then this young Mexican band might have a big appeal to you out there.
[Gigur's official website: http://www.gigur.com/]
Glass Hammer - Chronometree
Chronometree is Glass Hammer's fifth album I think. Well, I am not an expert of modern-day symphonic prog rock, however Glass Hammer seems to have been making fine and retrospective progressive rock sounds through their career. This is my first try to check out Glass Hammer's music from Chronometree album. According to liner notes of Chronometree, Chronometree is a kind of concept album that there is a man called Tom who got a message from aliens through listening to progressive rock album including Yes, and later on he was asked to make Time Machine called Chronometree through communication. Finally, they were trying to meet the place behind Tom's house, but after all Tom's plan was totally shattared with his miscalculation. Hmm, it is an unusual story, but quite unique. The music on Chrnometree is definately symphonic prog rock which is influenced by EL&P and Yes, but they blend some retro-prog elements and their own elements together. Definately, the keyboardist of Glass Hammer handles hammond organ, moog synth, and keyboards pretty well to create symphonic laden rock sounds. Unfotunately, it was kind of tough for me to enjoy the performance of their lead vocalist, due to his tones and the way he sings. Instrumental sections on some parts are quite thrilling, but again I had hard time to get into some sections featuring lead vocals. Overall, Chronometree album is nicely produced and performed. If you like retro prog rock sounds, then Glass Hammer will appeal to your ears quite a lot. For my first listening experience of Chronometree, it was kind of hard to get into this one, except for brlliant keyboard performance and some complex sections. After spinning this cd several time, I have started enjoying listening to. I hope I would like to hear other Glass Hammer music next time. I do not say it is superb, but definately really good album for fans of this symphonic prog kind music.
Gonzo - s/t
Gonzo is a solo artist/bassist from Hawaii, U.S.A. This CD features the songs that dedicates his family. Amazingly, you can find no guitars or keyboards. Nothing, but his bass performance. On this cd, he uses Steinberger, Ibanez, and Synsonic Bass with boiled strings. Stylistically, he plays bass very gently and introspectfully in the mixture of solid rock bass with instrumental music having melodic new age atmospheres. Before listening to this cd, I thought that he would have been a technical oriented bass player. My assumption was totally wrong. Including the cover tune of Jaco Pastorius "Amerika", his bass lines are melodic and gentle entirely. He avoids going technical playing. He knows what to play. Interesingly, what he presents on this cd has filled with gentle souls and love toward his family. I hope his expressive bass performance will be vividely active when he finds other musicians to jam. His song structure is plain simple and straight-forward in very good way to express his thoughts and emotions. This is electric bass oriented instrumental music, but the way he plays is like classical guitar music with electric sounds in my ear. Perhaps, the instrumentalists somewhat tend to make technical and complex sections to enjoy astnoshing audience. On the other hand, the players like Gonzo carefully choose what sounds or structures are effectice to make music unique and tastly. Well, I usually like to listen to complex and intricate music for my pleasure. However, Gonzo's musicis mesmerizing during listening session. Gonzo's music reflect his soul and compassion on his family. and beloved ones. He is one of interesting musicians who look at different directions that normally instrumentalists do not seem to look for. Actually, I had a nice listening moment. Hopefully, he continuously make his own passionate music by himself or with some other musicians. His music somewhat gives warm energy and fresh breeze.
Gratto - Anakin Tumnus
PROGRESSIVE MUSIC MANAGEMENT (PMM) kindly sent their newest release called "GRATTO - Anakin Tumnus". Basically, this progressive musical endeavor is led by Gratto (keyboardist), Chris Rodler (known as ANDEAVOR/RH FACTOR) and his brother, Brett Rodler. Overall, this is really fantastic complex and intricate progressive rock band reminding some people of Echolyn and Leger De Main. Their music features kind of technically challenging complex rhythm and energetic instruments with nice amounts of piano, organ, and keyboards. Anakin Tumnus has three long tracks (9 minutes track, 10 minutes track, and about 17 minutes track), however, each long piece has strong cohesive instrumentals with hard driving energy. How do I compare this band to another band?? I am not really familiar with modern prog rock bands..., I would say that this band's potential is quite high, if you are looking for quality modern-day/contemporary progressive rock bands, definately Gratto should never get ignored. I really enjoy their intensity level on Anakin Tumnus, I will choose this album as one of favorite prog rock albums released in 2002.
Greyhaven - s/t
WOA!!!, I am totally impressed with what Greyhaven offered on their self-titled album. Greyhaven is a really powerful and talented progressive metal band. They inject powerfulness and technicality from prog metal with sensibility. In addition, they add grace and elegance from neo-prog rock category. They are really good at shifting from soft to heavy parts in great dynamics. Lots of interesting technical ensembles with great vocal performance. So far, Angular Records keep releasing good prog metal bands from all around the world. Greyhaven's debut cd is highly recommended toward prog metal fans in general who are into complex and powerful ensembles.
Gronholm - Silent Out Loud
'Silent Out Loud' is the second album of Finnish prog metal group led by Mika Gronholm. Although I mentioned this group is a prog metal group, it's actually a bit tricky one to categorize them. On their first album, there are some varied sophisticated and intelligent melodic metal/rock songs with the emphasis on prog metal genre (esp., two instrumentals sound quite impressive, btw). If you are curious about this description on the first album, then you would be naturally drawn into Gronholm's new album. Gronholm consists of a Finnish musician Mika Gronholm (guitar, bass and keyboards) and Status Minor's Markku Kuikka on vocals and Tom Rask on drums. These musicians are the core members of Gronholm just like their predecessor ('Eyewitness of Life' album). They also feature impressive guest musicians contributing the music on this new album, such as Marco Hietala (Nightwish/Tarot), Zach Hietala, ex-Yes member Billy Sherwood, Janne Tolsa, Michael Henneken, Jasse Merivirta and Jupi Hjelt.
Comparing with their previous work, this new album's musical approach gets heavier and punchier with a slightly melodic AOR touch. Mika Gronholm mentions on his website that all songs of this new cd feature tuned down guitars/bass (to low B) to add heavier sounds as he plays guitar riffs and bass lines. Probably, some people who enjoyed the first album might have been worried about this news; but do not jump on the negative conclusion. It would definitely matter the musical tastes; the addition of low tuned guitar doest not distract listening pleasure for most people. Indeed, the addition of heaviness comes from low tuned guitar sounds. In fact, the results of such addition is successful one to aquire a heavier and immediate feel. Of course, he has never abandoned including a prog and European melodic sensibility like their first album.
The album of 'Silent Out Loud' could be divided into two halves: first six songs are quite energetic and dynamic; second three songs are rather acoustic and atmospheric pieces separated by the instrumental number called "Giant Steps". The first half of this new album convinces me quite a lot. Bombastic and powerful numbers like "Cross of Mind," and "Distorted Eyes" instantly grab me big time. These tunes are powerful and heavy, plus some Dream Theater-esque prog metal feel is evident; that's why I get into the first two numbers deeply. Again the core members of Gronholm showcases solid and impressive musicianship on these numbers. The tracks of "Under My Star" and "Vanity" featuring soulful lead vocal of Marco Hietala change the pace a bit, but these songs are bone crunchy and really hitting hard in a bit slower pace. Esp., "Under My Star" is a kind of cross between Soundgarden and Lion's Share. "Out From The Nest" is a very interesting mix of heavier rock and symphonic rock tastes which features Markku Kuikka's emotional and powerful vocals with backing vocal harmonies courtesy of Billy Sheerwood. It's a very unique and refreshing number, because chorus parts have somewhat of symphonic and epic moods reminding me of Yes and The Flower Kings; it takes you away another dimention. The power charged number "Race Is On" picks up the faster tempo and metallic approach again; this song is one of my favorite ones on this new album.
Next piece "Giant Step" is a completely long instrumental number, but interestingly it's a kind of guitar riff-oriented with constant drum beats over rock feels in the beginning, eventually the atmopsheric and jazzier piano solo performance appears toward the latter half of this instrumental number. "Set The Stones" featuring acoustic guitars and ballad like melodies sets the mood of the album completely different. Next track "Dawn of a Daown" is a complicated acoustic guitar solo (albeit a very short piece). The last song "Away" is a very melancholic and sombre to finish this fantastic album.
Mika Gronholm and his fellow musicians successfully deliver a fantastic new album once again. There are some similarites between first album and second album in terms of powerfully guitar driven melodic metal/rock style with vibes of prog metal. But new album 'Silent Out Loud' features very varied musical scopes; it also introduces heavier grooves and huge guitar riffs with superb mix and brilliant production. Even though the music of Gronholm might be categorized under the banner of Prog Metal, just keep in mind that the music of Finnish group always puts the emphasis on vocal oriented songs with strong melodies and starightforward guitar driven heavy & hard ensemble over technical instrumentations. All songs on 'Silent Out Loud' album are very approacheable and immediate feelings for any listener who is into both metal and prog rock.
All musicians getting involved with this album are very proficient and instrumentally quite impressive to listen from beginning to end. The ensemble is very consistent and straightforward with intense energies being constantly flowing. The vocal performance of Markku Kuikka is very sincere and really passionate to convey his feelings. The focal point of the music is guitar works of Mika Gronholm himself who pulls off very nice guitar solos and infectious guitar riffs entirely. The rhythmic works of Mika Gronhlm and Tom Rask is really powerful and control the intricate chnages. All guest appreances including Marco Hietala and Billy Sheerwood to name but a few are much helpful for Gronholm to dramatize the album effectively Each song has its own charm and very enjoyable moment to listen. I'm very impressed with the final results of new album 'Silent Out Loud'. Melodic oriented prog metal enthusiasts should keep an eye of the next move of Gronholm. Unique and refreshing melodic prog metal album!!
Grontved, Steen - Night Vision Goggles
'Night Vision Goggles' is the first album of Steen Grontved from Denmark. Steen is known as one of best session guitar players in his home country. In fact, this album features lots of colorful instrumental works. Even from the beginning, I am quite excited that how his style is quite versatile from technical hard fusion to comtemporary guitar music. He absorbs lots of different ideas to make his own sounds and unique guitar instrumentals. As Lion Music usually pick up fine guitar instrumentalists, they prove once again that they never disappoint guitar music fans with every technical guitar release. Steen Grontved has become a new guitar hero in my book. From beginning to the end, there are really varied and technically proficient instrumentals and fine jobs. The production of this album is entirely crisp and very warm. There is nothing I can complain. No flaw at all in my ears. Probably, it's a bit too soft for typical hard rock and metal fans out there. But it's worthwhile for instrumental fans to check out Steen's fantastic music works. Night Vision Goggles also feature his fellow musicians pulling off nice moments along with Steen's guitar playing. Wow, I have been quite impressed and stunned by his first solo album. I wish I would like to hear his works more in the future. Definitely, one of best guitar albums having fusion sounds and some smooth jazzy tastes.