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Not Otherwise Specified - 2011 - "Judgment"

(68:18, ‘NOS’)



1.  Intro 2:19
2.  Serenity 7:43
3.  Another Way 5:10
4.  Pulse 8:51
5.  The World Today 8:09
6.  Morning 9:07
7.  Judgment 9:22
8.  Perfect 6:43
9.  Rise to Meet You 10:54 


Craig Kerley – vocals; all instruments

Prolusion. NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED was the moniker chosen by US composer and multi-instrumentalist Craig Kerley when he returned from a self-described 15 year hiatus as a composer and performer in 2008. And in the late spring of 2011 his return to the arts was finalized with the release of "Judgment", the end result following three years of composing and recording.

Analysis. According to the artist, this is an album that turned out quite different from what was originally planned. "While initially meant to be a rock album, the songs kept coming out prog" is the brief but tantalizing description given at the various websites he utilizes for his musical endeavors. And when giving his album a close inspection, it becomes fairly obvious that this is a production made by a fan, someone with a close affection for progressive rock that rejoices in the possibility of making his own contribution to this type of music himself. Musically I suspect many will find it slightly troublesome to place this production within a defined genre. Kerley is obviously fond of many different types of progressive rock himself, and he does incorporate a fair share of different expressions into his compositions. But the foundation of it all is, at least to my understanding, firmly rooted inside the realm of progressive metal – the classical variety of it, with Dream Theater as the main point of reference, dark-toned guitar riffs backed by keyboards, with a distinct emphasis on the organ, makes up most of the playtime. Not too virtuosi, and residing well within a slow- to mid-paced framework at that. But dampened guitar motifs are frequently applied to lessen the metal tinge, giving quite a few passages more of a heavy prog feeling, especially when combined with a dominating organ motif on top. But there's also room for passages of a gentler nature, the occasional psych-oriented flirt referencing the likes of Porcupine Tree do pop up now and then. And slightly more regular are majestic constellations with energetic keyboard soloing given the limelight, in a manner that should please those who prefer their progressive rock to be of the symphonic variety. Kerley appears to be an able instrumentalist. And while his performance on the various instruments utilized doesn't shine with a bright virtuosi light, he's a competent sticksman, bassist and guitarist, and a fairly good vocalist to boot. Personally I think he is best when handling whatever tangents are utilized at any given time, but as I'm not a musician myself it may well be my ears deceiving me. Still, it's a well assembled production, and it's not too often that the end result reveals that this is a one man band project. The songs by and large have a good band feel to them, but the avid listener will probably pick up some revealing details here and there. It all adds up to a competent album containing fairly good compositions throughout. Instrumental performance, mix and production could all probably have been improved with a larger budget at hand and the involvement of additional musicians, but I suspect that it would have been at the expense of the charm that comes from the vision of a fan and former musician gleefully enjoying the challenges of finally being able to create and record his own music again.

Conclusion. While firmly rooted in early 90's progressive metal, "Judgment" is a creation that includes a fair amount of stylistic details from other parts of the progressive rock realm too. Due to that, as well as the inclusion of a liberal amount of symphonic progressive rock flourishes, I suspect that fans of bands like Magic Pie might be something of a key audience for this release. In particular those amongst them who also tend to enjoy the likes of Dream Theater and, at least to some extent, Porcupine Tree.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 21, 2012
The Rating Room

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