Promoted as a progressive rock super-group, Liquid Tension Experiment was brought together to add some financial viability to emergent Magna Carta record label. They are a highly skilled quartet consisting of Tony Levin, John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, and Jordan Rudess. The 73-minute CD is the result of one week of intensive jamming, writing & recording. The result is rather a mixed bag.
Most of the album alternates between long anthem-oriented metal pieces and short diversions into a variety of moods and styles. The problem for me was that the shorter diversions held more interest for me than the longer anthems. For some reason the anthems failed to reach out and grab me and seemed overly dependent on the guitar and keyboard heroics of Petrucci & Rudess. They are great players, but it seemed like the talent in the rhythm section, while depended on, was largely ignored. The rhythm section does get time in with the short pieces like "Osmosis" and "The Stretch" giving the record much needed variations in texture.
The last tune is an unrehearsed twenty-eight and a half minute jam that was left "as is" for the record. Entitled "Three Minute Warning", this really shows how good the band is at throwing musical ideas off each other. It's fascinating to hear the ideas evolve and devolve over such an extended period of time. This is where the strength, virtuosity, and creativity of the ensemble are truly demonstrated. Its only fault is when the multi-track tape runs out and they had to fall back on a two track DAT safety (it was left as a cruel and deliberate edit).
Overall, I give this one a C+/B-, (alternating according too my mood). I've owned it for about six months and I seldom dip back into it even though the musicianship is quite good. Maybe someone with a greater affinity with heavy metal in general would get more from this CD. To my tastes the second Liquid Tension Experiment is a better buy.
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