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Syzygy - 2010 - "Realms of Eternity"

(77:10, ‘Syzygy’)



1.  Darkfield 10:35
2.  Vanitas 6:02
3.  Dreams 10:31
4.  Echoes Remain 5:23
5.  Dialectic 18:35 
6.  Arranmore Isle 2:04 
The Sea (26:56):
7.  Overture 2:42
8.  The Sea 5:21
9.  The Morning Song 3:25
10. Variations-1 4:04
11. Variations-2 3:14
12. Reflections 1:44
13. Finale 5:28


Carl Baldassarre – el. & ac. guitars; lead vocals
Paul Mihacevich – drums; backing vocals
Sam Giunta – keyboards 
Al Rolik – bass; backing vocals 
Mark Boals – lead vocals (1, 3, 5)
Virginia – flute (1)
Mike – cello (1) 
Erica – violin (1)
Peggy – voice (4)

Prolusion. Originally a trio of Carl Baldassarre, Paul Mihacevich and Sam Giunta, SYZYGY is a band from the States, and has existed since the early ‘90s. Their first two albums, “Cosmos & Chaos” and “The Allegory of Light”, saw the light of day in 1993 and 2003, respectively. “Realms of Eternity” is a follow-up to those recordings and is their first release as a quartet, a recruit (another official band member) being a ‘free’ bassist, Al Rolik. One of the five session players, who also participate in the recording, Mark Boals is a widely known veteran musician, who has been climbing the ladder as a vocalist since he joined Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force back in 1985. As you can see above, he sings on three of the four longer compositions here. It probably also needs to be mentioned that – like Tourniquet, Kerry Livgren (solo, formerly of Kansas and Proto-Kow), as well as quite a few other rock and related performers – Syzygy belongs to the movement, whose participants’ lyrics are normally based on Christian values.

Analysis. I began to explore “Realms of Eternity” right after I’ve finished the review of Anima Mundi’s latest CD, the 7-track “Jagannath Orbit”. To my surprise, it turned out that these albums have rather much in common between themselves. There are nominally 13 tracks on this disc. However, the last seven of those fluently flow from one to another and are actually parts of a concept suite, The Sea, which, while lasting for 27 minutes, develops logically throughout, reminding me in a way of a chain of prequels and sequels. Navigating its path somewhere halfway between the symphonic sophistication of Yes’s “Tales from Topographic Oceans” and the driving intensity of Kansas’s “Leftoverture”, occasionally incorporating the quirkiness of classic Gentle Giant, Syzygy appears as a top-notch vintage art-rock band here. The music is in all senses full-blown Symphonic Prog, no matter that two of the epic’s segments, The Morning Song and Reflections, are ballads in the final analysis: both of them are marked with taste and elegance and are generally pleasing, particularly the former, which is largely acoustic in nature. All in all, the suite far exceeded my expectations, since none of the preceding tracks display such a high progressive level as this one does – its, so to speak, brothers in influences, Darkfield, Dreams and Dialectic, included. As the first two of these refer not only to classic Prog, but also to Neo (plus at times to pop-art as well), the instrumental arrangements are fairly thoughtful, in both cases, whereas the vocal themes aren’t too notable for variety. Another ‘sidelong’ composition, the largely instrumental Dialectic, reflects the group’s interest in a more eclectic Art-Rock, the band occasionally entering the jazz-fusion area. Overall, this is a very good creation, with nods to brilliance here and there, although not everything went off swimmingly as regards its overall cohesion. Unlike the above epic, Dialectic is presented as a single track, suggesting it’s a monolithic composition, but while The Sea comes across as a real suite, this one has some feel of sketchiness to it. Either way, there are enough turns and twists to please the discerning fan, such as I am, for instance (please, readers, only don’t take me as a show-off). Echoes Remain is a fairly simple ballad, and yet it leaves a pleasing aftertaste – perhaps because it is full of chamber colorations. The remaining two tracks, Arranmore Isle and Vanitas, are both instrumentals. The former is a piece for acoustic guitar, and isn’t too varied, compared to similar creations by Steve Hackett, Steve Howe, and so on. The latter, however, is probably the second best track here, showing interest in both classic symphonic Art-Rock and the style’s heavier manifestation, which was pioneered by King Crimson, albeit in this particular case Anekdoten seems to be more suitable as a reference point. By the way, Baltasar tries all his best to be on a par with Boals as a vocalist, and since (not sure whether accidentally or not – perhaps Carl just succeeds in imitating Mark’s voice, too) they generally sing in a similar way, the album’s lead vocal palette comes across as being pretty monolithic. Yeah, what has been said does not concern the men’s choir parts, which – thanks to the overdubs – may include up to 5 vocal lines, depending on whether those are done in the band’s original manner or in a Yes, Gentle Giant, etc one.

Conclusion. Syzygy’s “Realms of Eternity” weighs in better than a merely good effort, though I’m pretty sure, it would’ve been even better if its creators weren’t in the aware of the possibility of releasing a single album that would be fairly comparable to a double LP in length. Sounds stupid? Anyhow, the recording doesn’t appear to be as convincingly long as, say, the above Yes outing does. I realize that the creation of a CD has signified the further development of the music industry, and so on, but I still slightly regret that the disc’s capacity (generally speaking) exceeds one hour.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: June 20, 2010
The Rating Room

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