Artist: Inner Resonance Album: Solar Voices Label: Descant Records. © 1999 Inner Resonance, BMI, IR-99001 Email: mailto:email@example.com Web-site: http://www.iresonance.com/ (Track by Track Analysis:) “Icarus”, It’s ambient, no it’s Indian, no --- It’s Heavy Metal, no it’s Journey on steroids. One thing is for sure, the first track starts out with multiple personalities. It has Guitar riffs, heavy percussion, rock-star super high vocals (which the vocalist is straining to achieve) and a string section. This is not easily definable at first listen. “Winter’s Dawn” is your basic guitar rock with some good riffs and proggy overtones. “One More Summer” opens with a nice set of acoustic guitar riffs, joined by keyboards. It tries to be a story of longing youth, but gets a little be silly in the middle. Or maybe I’m missing the point and it’s supposed to be funny…. Nah, I don’t think so. Some excellent guitar work here even so. “Ember”. More ballad singing. The meter changes and instrumentation shifts will keep it out of Corporate Rock airplay, but I don’t feel that moved by the inventiveness. It’s partly the voice of Mr. Peter Orullian. He sings higher than his vocal range should allow, and it detracts from the music. Then again, those of you who like ‘scream rock’ will probably disagree. “Wanderlust” – an Instrumental. Interesting and inventive use of screaming guitar riffs with odd keyboard sounds. “Solar Wind” opens with a nice layering of acoustic and electric guitars. There it is again, I just don’t like Orullian’s voice. That’s a personal preference so I must add that in the non-screaming range he is on key and understandable, but his voice just doesn’t send me. “Desire to Believe”. This one’s a little bit more rock-and-roll, and fairly forgettable. “Open Eyes” begins with piano and strings. This one is a soft ballad. Here I am reminded of a Tim Rice musical. Then we jump into high end power rock singing and I’m back in rock and roll for a moment. Funny enough, this track is so over the top and so different it works. “Broken Stone”. Great keyboard, power chord, trance opening. Then the heavy metal guitar sound join in. This song may be the best one on the CD. “The Drum”. All right, so it’s a tie for best song. This one wins the ‘inventiveness’ award. Who might like it? Guitar mad, ‘tight pants vocalist’ happy proggers with a fondness for upgraded Journey/Styx style music. Fans of Queensryche should gobble it up. Given what I believe Jeffery’s influences are, I must also add that he does present a style of performance which is inventive. Who might dislike it? Those of us with a preference for more symphonic or folk based prog rock. Anyone looking for a more classical and less forced sound from the vocalist. His slides into his falsetto range are just awful, which is a shame since he is for the most part quite good. The best tracks: “Wanderlust”, “Broken Stone”, “The Drum”. The weakest tracks: “One More Summer”. The track that best represents Inner Resonance's style: “Broken Stone” Star rating: 2 1/2 out of 5. (you can add a half star if you like his singing.) Personnel: Jeffery Ryan Smoots – Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Drums Peter Orullian – Vocals, Keyboards. Produced by Inner Resonance. The Tunes: 1. Icarus [3:31] 2. Winter’s Dawn [5:09] 3. One More Summer [9:12] 4. Ember [4:30] 5. Wanderlust [3:54] 6. Solar Wind [5:01] 7. Desire to Believe [6:53] 8. Open Eyes [4:13] 9. Broken Stone [6:59] 10. The Drum [9:58] Gregory M. Amov (GMA) -- If it ain't MIDI, it must be actual live musicians, who'da thunk it? mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org http://systemstheory.net
Editor's Note: I want to thank Greg for "bridging the gap" and helping his "partner-in-crime" Steven Davies-Morris make this review a reality. Good job!
J.R.S.: Wings Of Gold Moonchild Records, 1999. Produced by Jeffrey Ryan Smoots. http://hometown.aol.com/jeffreygtr/jrshome.htm email@example.com Wings Of Gold is a solo album by the guitarist of prog-metal group Inner Resonance. If you didn't care for their recent offering "Solar Voices" you may as well stop reading since you won't like this either. Two things are readily apparent from this album: J.R. Smoots has technique for several guitarists, and he wields it like a cudgel. One of the major problems of any solo project on which the artist attempts to do everything, is that very few people have the ability to do more than one or two things well. Another major problem is that there may not be anyone to tell the artist don't do that! With the exception of percussion (handled by David Beardsley) Smoots handles everything, which to my mind is where the trouble starts. Smoots' guitar work, which is exemplary, shows the relative paucity of his highly digital keys work, which makes me ask why someone else wasn't handling keyboards. His bass work is mostly lost in the mix, placed too far back to be anything more than a bubbling undercurrent that never adds weight or definition to the bottom end. The percussion, much of which is either programmed, or is produced so it sounds programmed, is flat and lacking depth, never cutting through the mix to smack you in the head, like heavy drumming should. These are production not performance issues, most of which might have been averted had someone else been playing devil's advocate, someone who'd take the compressors away, allowing the tunes to develop some dynamic range instead of squashing them so that there's not much in the way of contrast. The quiet parts don't seem soft and the loud parts don't roar. The record has lots of guitar flourishes, including some nice nylon work. It also has a few killer riffs, but nothing that grabs the throat like seventies Blackmore, Schenker or the better Downing/Tipton (Judas Priest) material does. In the attempt to make an accessible record (by and large successful) Smoots never goes for the jugular, though there are moments when he threatens to turn his power-pop-metal rifferama into stormtrooper assault. Too bad he didn't let his baser aggressive instincts out of the kennel. The CD would have been more interesting if he had. What J.R.S. delivers is a melodic/power-metal album with some Aerosmith-ish hard-rock tendencies and some nods towards progressive metal via Dream Theater and Queensryche, topped by the son-of-Gramm, cousin-of-Delp vocals. All of which is okay, if you go for that thing. Ultimately Wings Of Gold left me disappointed, since it's been done with greater panache before. I kept wondering when the record would end, and if it could be fobbed-off on someone, much like the way I felt listening to the last pair of Queensryche albums. Who might like this? Fans of melodic power-metal, guitar heroics a la Malmsteen, Styx, Boston, the more rock Dream Theater, the less pop Journey and most Queensryche. Def Leppard fans that've grown up might do far worse than this album. Who might dislike this? Anyone who's virulently opposed to AOR. Proggers who think that Asia were arch traitors. Those who think guitar pyrotechnics are generally over-the-top wanking. The best songs: "Intro" "Homeland" "Pound"* "I Know" "Find A Way" *(The track that best represents J.R.S's style: “Pound”). Star rating: 2 out of 5. I understand the intent was to be accessible, but it sacrificed too much inventiveness. It goes straight into the trade pile. ~Steven Davies-Morris Personnel: Jeffrey Ryan Smoots -- vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards David Beardsley -- percussion Songs: 01. Intro (instrumental) [2:12] 02. Living [4:43] 03. Fade [4:27] 04. Homeland [3:48] 05. Pound [5:27] 06. Change [5:17] 07. I Know [3:47] 08. Never Never Land [3:56] 09. Natural Disaster [3:36] 10. V [4:45] 11. Find A Way [3:18] 12. Wings Of Gold [4:12]
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