Dali's Dilemma: Manifesto For Futurism Magna Carta Records MA-9024-2, 1999. Produced by Matt Guillory, Pat Reyes and Mike Varney. http://www.magnacarta.net/ It's very hard for any recording artist to deliver a first musical statement that isn't derivative of its influences; witness Beethoven, whose first symphony was pure Haydn. So it should surprise no one that the point of reference on the debut by Dali's Dilemma is Dream Theater circa "Awake". Prog-metal, metallic-prog, or whatever you chose to call it, has become the dominant trend in prog during the 90s, with Dream Theater the movement's standard bearer, providing a solid blue-print for musicians wishing to operate in the prog-metal arena, in the same way that Genesis set the agenda for many symphonic, and later neo-symphonic, rock bands. Dali's Dilemma are adept disciples of the Dream Theater school, possessing the technical chops needed to deliver the hybrid of shifting time signatures, hard-hitting quasi-metallic riffing, lush keyboard fills, furious double-bass pedal driven drumming, all topped with the Deep Purple derived slightly desperate vocals. Dali's Dilemma places more emphasis on melody then their mentors, especially during the vocal passages, managing to write several songs that are eminently hummable. They also have the same knack for interesting guitar and keyboard lines that harmonize and mimic each other, or dance adroitly around each other. At its best the band rocks hard, creating metallic textured songs that showcase a great deal of ability and versatility. They manage to avoid the most glaring of grunting prog-metal cliches, and even create some tasteful U2ish moments, most noticeably "Can't You See". Two short instrumentals, one a guitar and one a synthesizer showcase, are used to break up the prog-metal onslaught. This is probably just as well since the biggest weakness is that many of the tunes sound the same. Part of that is the production approach, and part of it is the choice of instrumentation and tones used (particularly electric guitar and the ubiquitous string synths). There were times when I had to refer to the track listing because of the sonic similarity of the tunes. If you're not already a fan of the Dream Theater school of progressive-metal, pulverized by maniacally pummeling double-bass pedals, this isn't the place to start. But if you're into the genre, this could be a good addition to your library. Hopefully Dali's Dilemma will have a better handle on its sound with the next record; right now they're too much like their mentors to have an identity of their own, which may cause many fans of non-metallic prog to bypass them. Who might like this? Dream Theater fans in need of a between DT albums fix. Anyone wanting good background music for a game of "Panzergruppe Guderian". Who might dislike this? Anyone who's not a prog-metal fan, or not a fan of tortured metal vocal heroes in general. The best songs: "Miracles In Yesterday" "Ashen Days" "Can't You See" "Living In Fear"* *(The track that best represents the band’s style: "Living In Fear".) Star rating: 2 ½ out of 5; 3 out of 5 if I’m in a metal mood. I‘ll keep it, but it might wind up in my trade pile. ~ Steven Davies-Morris
Personnel: Matthew Bradley -- vocals Pat Reyes -- guitars Jeremy Colson -- drums Steve Reyes -- bass Matt Guillory -- keyboards. Songs: 01. Within A Stare [5:48] 02. Miracles In Yesterday [7:09] 03. Despite The Waves [5:49] 04. Whispers (instrumental) [2:04] 05. Ashen Days [5:27] 06. Andromeda Sunrise (instrumental) [2:00] 07. This Time Around [4:50] 08. Hills Of Memory [4:47] 09. Can't You See [5:15] 10. Living In Fear [7:41]
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