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(36 min, Unicorn)
TRACK LIST: 1. All I Need 4:49 2. Narcissus & Echo 3:50 3. Peacemaker 5:37 4. Second Wind 5:10 5. Antibodies 4:07 6. Virus Divine 6:04 7. Pas del Morte 5:02 8. Horsefeathers 1:25 All music: by Little King. All lyrics: by Rozoff. Produced by Rozoff. Mixed by T Brown. LINEUP: Ryan Rosoff - guitars; vocals Wes Kahalekulu - drums Shannon Brady - bass With: Heather Coley - backing vocals
Prolusion. "Virus Divine" is the debut CD by American band LITTLE KING. The album was mixed and co-produced by Terry Brown, the famous veteran sound engineer and producer, whose name is associated with several progressive outfits, though above all certainly with Rush.
Analysis. The fact that Mr. Brown has taken care of the album's sound is evident throughout the recording, and it doesn't seem to be accidental that he was asked to put the finishing touches to the production. More than half of the contents point Rush out as Little King's only passion (thankfully not all-absorbing), as there are no other extraneous traces on "Virus Divine", except those of that one of the most influential acts of the second Progressive Rock generation. The sound is quite typical for a power Progressive Rock trio with no keyboards in the equipment. The music can be described as guitar Art Rock meets Prog Metal, and this combination lies in the basis of each of the eight songs (no instrumentals here). The opening number, All I Need, is a sort of Prog hit, with only three different vocal themes and a couple of brief instrumental sections. While not really straightforward, it's immediately accessible. The best point of comparison would be an average song from Rush's "Test for Echo". Any of the further songs are much better, though not all of them are of the same quality, above all with regard to the sound's originality. The two tracks following the first one: Narcissus & Echo and Peacemaker, the centerpiece Antibodies and the last opus, Horsefeathers, represent a mixture of Little King's benefactor's legacy and the band's own ideas, still much resembling Rush (circa "Signals" this time around) in places. One of the principal factors distinguishing Little King from Rush lies in their active use of acoustic guitar, whose lines run through nearly all of the tracks present. As to the most impressive songs on the album, Pas del Morte is much less often notable for the Rush influence, while Second Wind and Virus Divine are completely free of it. There also are certain digressions from the album's primary style on both of the latter. The textures of Second Wind are richly flavored with colorings of oriental music, and the title track features some arrangements, the vocal lines included, belonging to extreme Techno Metal. Generally, Ryan Rosoff refused imitating Geddy Lee's singing on these at all, and his natural voice turned out to be low and surprisingly strong. As a result, both of the album's highlights contrast noticeably with the other songs, both instrumentally and vocally.
Conclusion. Regardless of how strange this may sound, I will dare to say that Little King's obvious Rush influence at times appears as a positive factor, provoking them to play as intricately as they're able. Nevertheless, the completely original compositions better suit my taste anyway. All in all, "Virus Divine" has not much to offer the adventurous music lover, though of course, the progressive audience isn't limited by that category of the listeners.
VM: May 23, 2005
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