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(51:16; Gregorian Rock)
TRACK LIST: 1. Consuming Fire 4:39 2. Reap What You Sow 3:33 3. Skies Proclaim 4:23 4. Unwelcome Goodbye 3:35 5. Fire From Heaven 3:58 6. Blood & Fire 4:40 7. Pillar of Fire 4:29 8. Talon 3:21 9. Remember the Name 3:06 10. Ashes 4:29 11. Wisdom 4:07 12. In Terra 6:56 LINE UP : Roland Dale Benedict - vocals, keyboards, stick, programming with: Scott McCullor - vocals Phil Keaggy - guitars Vinnie Moreno - guitars Jay Pilkington - guitars Paul Neil - guitars Dara Benedict - cello John Adams - bass Kyle Benedict - bass Sean McCurley - drums Paul Garretson - drums
Prolusion. US project Gregorian Rock appears to be the creative vehicle of Roland Dale Benedict, and following a successful Kickstarter campaign he released the first of what is now five studio albums under the Gregorian Rock moniker back in 2013. The third album "Fire" dates back to 2017, and is a self released production.
Analysis. The Gregorian Rock project comes across as very much an enthusiast creation, music made with a lot of heart and emotion behind it. The aim is at least partially to make use of the Gregorian vocal traditions in a more contemporary setting, but also to create music that is engaging to listen to without the vocal contributions. The compositions here do cover a fair bit of ground, with smooth and groove-oriented jazzrock and symphonic progressive rock oriented escapades existing side by side with atmospheric laden landscapes with more of an ambient touch, sacral sounding creations with the organ in a starring role, medieval inspired music with more of a folk music appeal but also more guitar driven excursions with more of a hard rock drive and grit alternating with impulses with more of an AOR touch. The best of the material here is really mesmerizing too, with some fine moments of jazzrock early on and a Celtic inspired melody set over a dark and ominous sounding drone explored in 'Ashes' as some of the finer moments of this album. Other compositions come across as more disjointed and accidental in nature, ambitious creations where a bit more skill and work is required to transform the material from separate pieces into a more elaborate construction with phases, transitions and well executed sudden developments executed in a logical manner. The Gregorian vocals, when used, can be enchanting, but due to mix, production or other reasons some of them do come across with a bit of an autotune feel, and this artificial flavor to this ancient song tradition feels a bit out of place. That some of the drum patterns come with an artificial feel to them is another detrimental element, and the same is the case for some rough sounding guitar details and sounds that are breaking up a bit on the higher frequencies.
Conclusion. "Fire" is a bit of a roller coaster ride on a few different levels, with fine and engaging numbers that come with many strong points but also material that sounds out of place, out of time and underdeveloped in a few different manners. On a similar level this isn't really a progressive rock album as such either, but a production that does feature passages and sequences that includes this form of music to a lesser or greater degree. All in all an uneven album, one possibly worth acquiring for the best parts, at least if you find these to be within your general field of interest.
Progmessor: February 2023
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