Before the age of internet, I used to buy my albums in the local record store. Before buying an album, I mostly listened to parts of new releases. Try before you buy so to say. Sometimes I could listen to quite a number of tracks of the same album, but if it was too busy, I could only listen to single tracks from new albums. If such a track was bad or just moderate, there was a chance that I missed a fine release in case the rest of the material had a much higher quality.
I must think about this when I listened to Realms Of Eternity, a new album from the American prog rock band Syzygy. The first track Darkfield couldn’t get my attention at all, in fact it sounded rather disappointed to me. The song contained all elements to call it prog music, but I found the composition too mediocre. Frankly speaking, I couldn’t believe that the same band that recorded this song delivered such a fine album in 2003. The Allegory Of Light was one of my personal highlights of 2003. The music on that album has been influenced by bands as Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but it also sounds rather experimental from time to time. I loved that album very much, so my expectations of this new release ran high.
The second track Vanitas, however, fortunately proved that Syzygy is still able to entertain me. This instrumental piece sounds like Spock’s Beard in their early days. Wow, this is just what I would like to hear from a progressive rock band! I wonder why Syzygy started the album with such a moderate song as Darkfield, because Dreams the third track of Realms Of Eternity contains the highest level of progressive rock music possible! This song reminds me of Ethos, a great band of the seventies. Most of all the vocals, the acoustic guitars and the Yes and Genesis influences are similar as Ethos used on their strong Ardour-album. You can enjoy the same high level of music on the remainder of Realms Of Eternity. The last part of the album entitled The Sea is divided into eight pieces. They reminded me of early Spock’s Beard masterpieces like Beware Of Darkness and The Light. With Realms Of Eternity Syzygy comes pretty close to a masterpiece. It is just a pity that the opening track didn’t catch the right note as far as my musical taste is concerned.
I cannot end this review without mentioning that Carl Baldassare (guitars, Theremin, vocals), Sam Giunta (keyboards) and Paul Mihacevich (drums, percussion) made a wise decision to add two musicians to their line up. Singer Mark Boals and old friend Al Rolik on bass guitar lift the music to a higher level. Al Rolik’s voice sounds a lot like Dave Meros (Spock’s Beard) and Chris Squire (Yes). These new musicians certainly made the music less experimental and more song orientated. Realms Of Eternity is highly recommended. For me it is one of the highlights of 2009 so far.
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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