Whilst writing this review, I’m going to assume you are familiar with progressive rock. If you’re not, then skip straight to the music listening portion and see if it’s your cup of tea. To set the tone upfront, the drummer for this instrumental rock album is Mike Mangini, who you might know from his work with Dream Theater and Steve Vai. Featuring the writing of Zack Zalon, this album tackles progressive, instrumental guitar music in a rock novel format. I’ll explain in a second what that means.
First things first – homie can shred. The guitar performance is top shelf and pretty tastefully woven into the instrumental writing of these songs. Harmonically, it def. reminds me heavily of Rush, but the Dream Theater influence is also apparent. I’m used to listening to super refined/processed metal(core), so it took me a tick to get used to some of the vintage vibes. By that, I mean the 70’s styled organ, 80’s lead synths, chorus/flanger guitar effects, and straight rhythms, which bring me back to when I used to listen to a lot of hard rock from that era. I’m also used to low tuned jamz with heavy syncopation and tight, staccato edits/grooves (djent jen djen jent jent), so this album comes across much more bright and playful, not to mention the major tonality that bleeds through often.
“A New Perspective” is a great example of the rock I grew up listening to; the piano/synth combo reminding me of Rick Wakeman. Some of the harmonized guitar phrasing and legato runs also feel like something that maybe I would have heard on the Surfing with the Alien album. “Crushing Day,” perhaps? I feel like I need to back and revisit all that stuff. Funny side-note: The piano intro of “And So It Ends” reminded me of a classic rock song, and I couldn’t think of it for the life of me. About an hour of later, it dawned on me that my brain made a synthesis of REO Speedwagon’s “Roll With The Changes” piano intro and the piano intro of “Right Now” by Van Halen, minus the minor tonality of VH’s intro. So, yeah. Good times.
Coolest aspect of this album, for me, is the idea that it’s reminiscent of “The Hero’s Journey,” the story arch of someone who is facing trials and learning to overcome them. Each song on the album is a “Chapter,” a stage of the journey and is preceded by a narrator who explains where in the process the “hero” is. The way the narration is written, it’s very easy to put yourself, the listener, in the position of the album’s protagonist. I’ve never encountered an album formulated in this way, and it is well executed. Almost like the score to a TV series or movie, the music feels and flows exactly like the moments it is portraying. Well done, mate!
Into The Great Divide Track Listing:
01. Chapter 1 – Intro
02. Chapter 1 – The Crossing
03. Chapter 2 – Intro
04. Chapter 2 – A Call To Adventure
05. Chapter 3 – Intro
06. Chapter 3 – Under A Bright Starry Sky
07. Chapter 4 – Intro
08. Chapter 4 – Tests & Enemies
09. Chapter 5 – Intro
10. Chapter 5 – Challenge Accepted
11. Chapter 6 – Intro
12. Chapter 6 – Dark Waters
13. Chapter 7 – Intro
14. Chapter 7 – Mist In The Sun
15. Chapter 8 – Intro
16. A New Perspective
17. Chapter 9 – Intro
18. Chapter 9 – The World You Made
19. Chapter 10 – Intro
20. Chapter 10 – And So It Ends
Run Time: 1:07:02
Release Date: January 26, 2018
Get a preview of some of the album’s killer music with this “The Riffs” clip.