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Music Reviews: Assignment, Dream Theater, Seventh Key, and Tragodia

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This week involves a look at approachable prog rock, begging for your ears.

Assignment have released Inside of the Machine and their respect for their craft is evident.To the add some icing to this progtastic cake, they have invited vocal heavyweights like Michael Bormann of Jaded Heart, Robin Beck, and Mats Leven. The quality of the vocal performances adds a certain gravitas to this release that makes it quite approachable and enjoyable. “Love Between Heaven and Hell”, with its duet centerpiece, is one such highlight. This band are yet another that have taken the journey from death metal to progressive goodness. This album should be the one that pushes this bunch to the next level, as it is as good as some of the best.

Dream Theater released Dream Theater, their first release since the departure of founding member Mike Portnoy. It has done quite a good job at splitting fans of the release. There seems quite the debate whether this is a “return to form” or a “resting on laurels” release. I do sense that quite a few of the tracks have a new, yet familiar vibe to them. There obviously has been soul-searching about what types of songs people like. I quite like the fact they left the kitchen sink, classical-tinged, 22-minute epic “Illumination Theory” to last. And “The Looking Glass” is so Rush-like, you expect Geddy Lee to start singing. I suspect this is a release people will return to and reexamine in a few months.

SKcoversmallSeventh Key offer up I Will Survive and one band comes to mind: Kansas. Of course, there is no surprise there, as Kansas bassist/vocalist Billy Greer is behind this band. Having been on a bit of a hiatus, at least in terms of studio releases, for eight years, this is a triumphant return to form. Fans of Kansas will eat this stuff up, as would fans of pop-tinged prog. This is a delightful release, from the title track to songs like “What Love’s Supposed to Be”. A great album for any fan of well-crafted and cleverly-produced prog rock.

Tragodia have unleashed their latest, Mythmaker. They have rather left their goth metal past and have gone full prog metal. There are obviously hints of Dream Theater scattered about in the tracks, if filtered through some “modern metal” sensibilities. And to be honest, there is a wee hint of goth on the fringes.This is a band that had yet to reach my radar, but deserves to be on it for sure. The title track is a good example of the quality of the material on this release. This is the type of band that just might attract a whole new crowd into prog metal and good on them for it.

That is all for this week. Please stay rocking and safe out there.

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