Second Nature

"The first album by Flying Colors got mixed reviews. Some people loved it (I was one of those) whilst others were disappointed that a band that included Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse had made an album that wasn't very "prog." Well, the second album from this band can't be criticised in that way because this is most definitely a prog album. Opening with a 12 minute song, and ending with a 12 minute, three part suite, these are the obvious progressive songs, but most of the shorter songs also mix pop/rock with progressive elements.

So, starting at the beginning, Open Up Your Eyes is like a mini-Transatlantic epic, with the first four minutes consisting of an instrumental overture before the vocal come in. There are plenty of swirling keyboards and lead guitar, and Portnoy's characteristic drumming is there too (something that was largely absent from the first album.) The next two tracks are more in a heavy metal style, something not usually to my taste, but certainly Mask Machine has a catchy hook and is an obvious choice for a single. After Bombs Away comes a more straightforward ballad, then the rocker A Place In Your World with some nice guitar riffs and keyboard lines, plus a singalong chorus. Lost Without You is another Power Ballad and the shortest song on the album at under 5 minutes. Then we get to the point at which the album really hits the heights. I defy anyone to listen to the last 3 tracks, one after the other, and not be amazed at the genius of this band. Kicking off with One Love Forever, which has an infectious acoustic guitar riff and a celtic feel, we then move on to what is probably my favourite song on the album. Peaceful Harbour has a beautiful spiritual feel to it, and the beginning and end put me in mind of Mostly Autumn. Finally we have a real gem. Cosmic Symphony is a three part suite with sections approximately three, three and six minutes long. It starts with thunder and rain effects and a simple repeated piano line before vocals, drums and guitar come in. Finally these are joined by a melodic bass line. The second section is more jazz keyboard based and then we move on to the final part which reminded me of REM. The song ends with the same piano line and thunder effects which began it.

A superb album, even better than their first and certainly proggier." - ProgArchives

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  • "Gary Hughes established himself as one of England's premiere singer Melodic and Hard Rock songwriters. He was involved in Bob Catley solo albums (both as a producer and songwriter), Hugo's solo debut (as a producer) and not to mention his albums with the band Ten plus three solo albums and one rock opera in 2 chapters! ''Veritas'', his new solo album truly feels like the natural successor to ''Precious Ones'', Gary Hughes' last solo output dated 1998. Given the long awaited nature this album and the anticipation already beginning I have been working really hard to make this album the best I possibly can" says Gary. The stunning final result is guaranteed to cement the reputation of Gary Hughes as a songwriter and producer and shows the class and the immense quality of British hard rock school, heir of the tradition of such giants as Whitesnake, Rainbow, UFO and Thin Lizzy! Musicians on the album include: Gary Hughes himself on keyboards and orchestrations, TEN bandmates Chris Francis and John Helliwell, drummer Dave Ingledew and bass player Rick Stewart (Devil To Pay), Jason Robinson on drums (Absent Minds) and Simon Brayshaw on bass (Nightshift)."
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  • Its been three years since the last Pendragon album.  To be honest I hadn't checked in on them in quite some time so it was interesting to listen to their latest - it was very different from what I expected.  Guitarist Nick Barrett has gone all Roger Waters on us - he wrote all the music and lyrics - so this really has evolved very much into a personal vehicle for him.  The usual bandmates of Peter Gee and Clive Nolan are on board and now joined by new drummer Craig Blundell.  Men Who Climb Mountains is a concept album but Barrett isn't spelling it out - you're going to have to work at this one.  The musical mission of the band has clearly changed over the years.  Don't have any hesitation - its full on prog but much more contemporary sounding.  The symphonic flourishes from the old days aren't quite so obvious - which isn't to say you won't notice Clive Nolan's presence.  Its simply that this is a bit more of a guitar driven vehicle than decades ago and Barrett's mournful solos have that nice Hackett-esque feel that always draws my attention.  I have to say I'm impressed.  Highly recommended.
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