Artist/ Band: Various Artists
Label: Righteous Sinner Records/Threshing Floor Records
Year of Release: 2007
Offical Artist/ Band Link
- 1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
This is a compilation album of Christian oriented progressive rock.
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
- Unitopia – Lives Go Round – My initial introduction to this great band! I first heard this band listening to this track and liked it so much I went searching for more of their music. I later found More Than a Dream and their best work so far, the Garden. If you like this song I implore you to check out these other two albums. They are currently working on the follow – up album Artificial, which they plan to release this May before their attendance at the Rights of Spring Progressive Music Festival in the USA.
This song opens with the sound effects of walking across a wood floor before the subject turns on the radio and the song begins. Nice intro, then Mark Trueack and the band take over. The media’s focus on global entertainment and the world’s focus on watching instead of living their lives are the central themes. Meanwhile, the earth is being neglected. “The media’s intention is to attract attention, and lead us all astray.” “We’re living our lives from day to day.” “They say, ‘He who hesitates is lost’.” “Is it any wonder the years fly by?” “Do we ever count the costs?”
The music is strong and different, which is what attracted me to want to find out more and buy their other albums. Mark’s voice is unique but you can hear similarities to Fish and Peter Gabriel. Sean Timms keyboards will remind you of Tony Banks and Monty Ruggiero’s drums are excellent. The guitars are fantastic and all the other instruments they add to their sound really help make Unitopia unique. The song ends as it begins with the record being removed and the subject walking across the wood floor. A great song, but only the beginning for this band.
- Ted Leonard – The Name of God – Nice synthesizer, drum, and guitar opener. Ted’s voice is unique and delivers a powerful statement in this song. His message that so many people over history have used the name of God in the wrong way. The guitar solos are wonderful and the reminder we must be vigilant in how we use the name of God in our day to day actions is not preachy, just a careful reminder.
- Phil Keaggy – Passport – Phil is a seven time recipient of the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award. Drums and guitar open this song before Phil begins to tell the story with his vocals. The synthesizers and guitars are wonderful. The song has a Kansas sound to it. “Creator of heaven.” “You made the Earth.” “Living water, second birth.” “Holy fire, cleansing stream.” Have your passport ready”, (for heaven).
The keyboards and strings really add to that Kansas feeling and do a wonderful job around mid – song of picking up the tempo and taking you to another place. The guitar solos and keyboards really strengthen the song in the middle. The drums also pick up during this part and deliver the closing.
- Mike Florio – The Wise Man – Mike’s vocals and guitar open this and then the drums rumble in. Another unique voice to help differentiate this genre from regular prog, where so many vocalists are beginning to sound the same. The keyboards pick up around mid – song and really take this one to another level. The music is good supporting the uplifting lyrics. The drums set a great rhythm and the synthesizers plug in every now and again to create highlights.
- Apple Pie – Solution – Total keyboard, guitars, and drum opening. Like the opening of an anthem. Then vocals come in to bring home the message. Again, unique vocals really helping to distinguish their sound. Those repeated anthem – like keys, drums, and guitars really do a great job of bringing home the power of the song. Then a soft interlude, complete with keys and slow plucked guitar chords. Strong lyrics helping to bring home the message, then a powerful guitar leap with accompanying drums and keys. The keyboard/guitar interplay shortly after will bring back memories of the best of Dream Theater before that anthem - like sound takes over again.
- Greg Wollan – Deep Calls 2 Deep – Solid piano opens this track to follow the last anthem. Then Greg’s vocals take over. “I will witness to the world, I can testify to this.” “I can tell that deep calls to deep.” Great violin, bells and guitar help make this song very different from any that have gone before here or on any other prog album of 2007. Kim Wollan’s flute is wonderful, along with Heather Garborg’s violin, adding more to the tapestry of this song and the album.
- Mike Lockett – The Dust – Eerie beginning with synths, then the powerful piano and strings, with the drama of bells, before a thundering guitar and drum rhythm take over. The second strongest song on the album, IMHO. I actually asked Mike to send me a copy of his album for review and he will when he finishes it. This song has everything. Mike’s vocals are really different and the multiple instruments he uses really set him apart from some of the other artists on the album. Mike’s lyrics are as strong as the guitar and drums that power this magnificent song. The piano that ends the song is a perfect effect.
- Pursuit – Quest – Another excellent opening complete with synths, powerful drums, keys, and of course lead guitar! The opening lasts so long you get the feeling it might be an instrumental. Then the beautiful piano takes over to weave the melody as Dan Wolfe’s vocals and lyrics describe the quest. But the guitar, drums, and keys do their own ‘talking’ as well. The instrumental parts are very good and will remind most of early Dream Theater, with some Kansas thrown in for good measure.
- Ad Astra – Angle of Repose – I actually won this band’s full album from a Christian prog website. The entire album is very good. Maybe I’ll do a review on that later. This song is the last song on their album, Beyond Our Bounds. It is a very good acoustic guitar rhythm, along with congas and electric guitar. Solid, very unique sound to this song and band. The melody is very catchy and the rhythm really leaves you with a good feeling along with the electric guitar and keys that take over later in the song.
- Time Horizon – Life Fantastic – This is another band I have requested a review copy of their album based off the strength of this song. Powerful drums and synths and that anthem - like sound before a Styx synthesizer interlude, just before the power guitar chords build a rhythm. The opening is so grand. The vocals are again very good and different. The synths and guitars throughout are very good and provide a unique sound which separates them from the rest of their peers as well as others in the prog rock genre.
- Everlasting Arms – The Mirror – Extraordinary piano and drums open this one. The strongest song on the album. An epic 12:08 standout, full of great lyrics and music. This one reminded me of the rhythm, melody and sound of some of Genesis’ From Genesis to Revelation album. That is one of my favorite Genesis albums and someday I would like to hear an entire album by this band.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
It is a Christian religious message that all of the bands are delivering, but they avoid being too preachy. The idea is more to ask you to examine your own personal thoughts and actions set to music. It is music designed for those who need a break from the dark side of music or who are in search of a more positive message. This is the third in a series of compilation albums in the Christian progressive genre which does not always get covered by labels and the general music industry. There is a demand as represented by the many artists that were not included on this and past CDs.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
I play the album often, but would like to be able to find complete albums from these bands as these songs truly are unique. The music is just as exciting and complex as the message they are delivering in their lyrics.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Yes. They have completed three of these compilation albums and they are working on the fourth version.
Rating: 9/10 – A great sample of some very unique bands. It served as an introduction for me to one of my favorite artists, Unitopia, and has left me waiting in anticipation of the next compilation! It also introduced me to some new bands that deliver the kind of music I have been searching for. The tracks chosen also serve as a starting point to search for the other work the bands included have created. As a compilation album it stands out with nothing but great songs.
Reviewed by Prof on December 24th, 2009
- 01. Lives Go Round - Unitopia
- 02. The Name Of God - Ted Leonard
- 03. Passport - Phil Keaggy
- 04. The Wise Man - Mike Florio
- 05. Solution - Apple Pie
- 06. Deep Calls 2 Deep - Greg Wollan
- 07. The Dust - Mike Lockett
- 08. Quest - Pursuit
- 09. Angle Of Repose - Ad Astra
- 10. Life Fantastic - Time Horizon
- 11. The Mirror - Everlasting Arms
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