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Track List: 1. Watching the Inserts 3:13 2. There Should Be a Test 5:05 3. Damn the Sunset 6:02 4. How to Cheat the Public 5:23 5. Wake up Tilton (inst.) 2:09 6. Tropical Booze 4:25 7. A Family of Bears 4:35 8. Turn Against True Invention 4:44 9. Two Crooks & a Burn Barrel 5:42 10. Gag Reflex 1:28 11. Show Club 3:03 12. Anywhere On the Earth (inst.) 5:29 All music: by Coinmonster & all lyrics: by Reider, except 10: music & lyrics by Stoner & Reider. Line-up: Rick Stoner - bass; vocals; keyboards (+ banjo on 11) Jim Reider - guitar; vocals David Galazia - drums; vocals (+ percussion on 6 & 12) Produced by Bill Dodd & COINMONSTER. Engineered by Bill Dodd at "Mud Hut" studios.
Preamble. "Tilton Johnson" is the sixth album by the underground Prog-Metal band from Pennsylvania, Coinmonster. To read the review of the band's previous album, "The Schematic", click >here.
The Album. Above all, it must be said that Coinmonster transformed their style more than merely noticeable on this album. The music that is presented here is not only much more diverse and complex, but also less heavy and harsh than that on "The Schematic". "Tilton Johnson" is not an album of a unified stylistics. Furthermore, the textures that the album consists of are typical for a few progressive genres. So, to describe the contents of it properly, I have to divide them into parts. Watching the Inserts, Turn Against True Invention, Two Crooks & a Burn Barrel, and Show Club (tracks 1, 8, 9, & 11) are the only songs on this album that are done in the vein of "The Schematic". All of them are about a highly intricate Prog-Metal with elements of guitar-based Art-Rock, and 'stylistic' comparisons with Voivod (think of "Dimension Hatross", 1988, & "Nothing Face", 1989) are inevitable here. The continuous and, often, very unexpected changes of musical direction, tempo, and tone, complex stop-to-play movements performed exclusively with the use of the odd measures, very diverse, contrasting, and virtuosi interplay between all three of the band members, strong lead vocals, and rare, yet, always unique backing vocals. All of this is typical for each of the said four songs and most of the other compositions on the album as well. All eight of the remaining tracks, representing six songs and two instrumentals, are completely free from any influences. And what is more, six of them contain a few of the truly unique, clearly innovative features that, sometimes, sound really magical. These are the five songs: There Should Be a Test, Damn the Sunset, How to Cheat the Public, Tropical Booze, and A Family of Bears (2, 3, 4, 6, & 7), and the album's title track (5), which is an instrumental piece. All six of these compositions are not only bunched up in the core of the album, but are also the real core of it. The first two of the said songs consist of the mixed structures that are typical for both a complex, hard-edged Prog-Metal and a guitar-based Art-Rock with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. Yes, diverse interplay between passages of semi-acoustic guitar, solos of bass, and passages of piano alternate with 'heavy' arrangements on There Should Be a Test quite often. While Damn the Sunset features a simply brilliant episode where the parallel solos of synthesizer and electric guitar, and the lead vocal part, done in fourth and fifth, bring to the listener a distinct flavor of the music of the East. However, the contents of all three of the following songs: How to Cheat the Public, Tropical Booze, and A Family of Bears, turned out to be the most unexpected and wonderful on the album. Each of these songs is about an outstandingly original, highly innovative, and very inventive guitar-based* Art-Rock with elements of Prog-Metal: everything is unique there, including backing vocals. (*Saying so in this review, I always imply the parts of both of electric and bass guitar.) Although A Family of Bears contains in addition the chords of piano, Tropical Booze, and especially How to Cheat the Public, remain my favorites on "Tilton Johnson". The music that is featured on the instrumental piece, titled same as the album and consisting of varied interplay between passages of electric piano and synthesizer, those of semi-acoustic guitar and solos of bass, represents nothing else but a real Symphonic Art-Rock. Apart from the fluid solos of guitar, pulsating solos of bass, and those by percussion instruments, the second and the last instrumental here, Anywhere On the Earth (12), features also the chords of synthesizer that, along with effects and echoes, 'flash' throughout it. In short, this is the only composition on the album, which is about Space Rock with elements of Art-Rock rather than the other way round. In all, this is an excellent and very appropriate ending for this album. Consisting only of rhythms of banjo, vocals, and claps of hands, the 1,5-minute Gag Reflex (10) is an original joke, though I would've never included it in such a serious and strong alb
Summary. Having heard many of the North American Prog-Metal bands, some of which (Toxik, Solitude Aeturnus, Masters of Reality, and many more) are still unknown for an 'average-statistical' lover of a heavy Progressive, I think I can even assert that Coinmonster is one of the best of them - at least presently. If your musical horizons aren't limited by the creation of traditional Prog-Metal bands, such as Dream Theater, Symphony X, today's Fates Warning, etc, you should be pleased with "Tilton Johnson" much more than with the latest albums by any of the aforementioned bands, and not only.
VM: November 4, 2002
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