Next To None is a teeny prog metal band consisting of Max Portnoy (drums), yeah, the son of..., Thomas Cuce (vocals), Ryland Holland (guitar) and Kris Rank (bass guitar). These four youngsters recorded this album when they were 15 and 16 years young and Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Winery Dogs) produced their debut called A Light In The Dark.
Let me first of all start with the fact that I do not like the grunting parts of Cuce in a couple of songs; this non-singing really ruins entire songs for me. Secondly I must point out that the drums are too heavy in the mix (Mike's fault) and the bass guitar and guitars therefore are too much in the background. I like the fact that most of the songs are rather aggressive, like e.g. Social Anxiety and Runaway, but then again these songs really remind me of the solo stuff of Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie. However, Next To None is a very young band and they are allowed to make “mistakes”, but there is enough good material on this album to enjoy and appreciate. Take for example the song Lonely Walk, which features a heavenly guitar solo of Holland, or the epic, very dynamic Control, which is a fine prog metal gem mainly due to the excellent variety. You Are Not Me is another great song, which features a very addictive chorus that will go through your head for a couple of days.
If you like Dream Theater, then this album is a must have, as a lot of musical ideas, riffs, hooks and melodies are “stolen” from that notorious prog metal band, but Next To None delivers a very solid debut album and I think that we will certainly hear/see more from these four prog metal rookies. If you want something to bang your head to, then this album is it; check out Control and Blood On My Hands and go crazy. I am sure that there have been worse debut albums than this one.
*** Martien Koolen (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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