(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
Most critics of progressive rock have resigned to the opinion that the golden years of "progressive rock" was during the early Seventies, mainly a European phenomena, most of today's newer bands have been influenced by many of these bands, but until the latter part of the Eighties where the influence of the innovative UK band Gentle Giant began to rear its head upon this eras progressive bands.
There are many that believe that with Angalagard's Hybris and Echolyn's Suffocating The Bloom that the renaissance of progressive rock began once again, the band's no longer were "blatantly" looking to Genesis, Yes and Camel for reference points, today's band are much harsher and mixed experimentations that the Eighties bands were afraid of doing.
Echolyn made a minor splash with their eponymous named debut, which hinted at the progress that would be made on further releases.
After a releasing a few gems Suffocating The Bloom and As The World, and a few low moments thrown in there as well (the Sony signing, the brief break-up of the band) Echolyn (Chris Buzby on keyboards and vocals, Brett Kull on guitars, lead and backing vocals, Paul Ramsey on drums/percussion and lead singer Ray Weston also doubling on bass duties, for the recently re-joined Tom Wyatt) reformed in late 1999, releasing Cowboy Poems Free in mid 2000 and two years later releasing the classic epic Mei.
Mei a very ambitious statement even for the progressive rock fan, is a forty-nine plus minute song, which easily is one of this era's best pieces. The lyrics (written by Brett and Ray) was inspired by two of the more personal self realization books, Jack Kerouacís "On The Road" and Dante Alighieri's "Inferno", which whom the main character "Mei" was created from.
Without being overtly preachy like similar bands of Echolyn's ilk, Mei is a masterwork of highs and lows in the life of a pilgrim whom must look into himself and realize that the world he is traveling in is filled with "trials and tribulations".
The glorious past of a time gone by is what many progressive rock fans continue to re-live, but many of todayís bands are creating some wondrous works, and there is a reason why many consider Echolyn to be US best symphonic band of this era, if you need proof of such brilliance, listen to the band's sixth studio album Mei and they will have you searching for more.
(All Album Reviews by jim1961)
This was the first song I ever heard from this band. I have to say I've found it unequaled, for it prompted me to discover all the rest of their music.
One long track, forty nine minutes, and never boring. And it's not like they try to keep you on the edge with gritty solo's or fast pace. They develop the song a bit at a time. They move into new grooves within it just timely enough.
They don't dwell on any one thing for too long. Some of the things they do I had kinda wished were extended pieces, for their are several moments that last thirty or forty seconds that could easily have been several minutes.
They also do a great job of making it not seem like simply twenty, two minute songs all pushed together. All the moments seem to tie together.
You (will, possibly) always feel like the parts belong to the whole. No ten minute instrumentals here, but vocals constantly there, intermittently with lots of short instrumental passages.
Sound interesting? It is!