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Amazing, brilliant, superb !!!! - 95%

Triffid_Troll, January 29th, 2005

Oh my god. This cd is absolutely a godly masterpiece, it really can almost stand next to Images and Words, but certainly will stand among the best prog/rock releases ever! Starring singer excellence James LaBrie from Dream Theater (one of my personally favorite bands) and instrument virtuoso Henning Pauly, this excellent musical
journey cannot be missed by anyone.

"Above the Grass - Part I" starts the album, a solid intro which actually contiunes on the last song on the album.

And after that shortly comes "The Gene Machine" with such an opening i first thought this album was going to be a disaster. It's like coming into a rave party except with real drums. Oh but thank god, I was wrong. As the song develops we are encountered with a good catchy opener which simply gets better and better as time goes by. Conclusion is that nothing special was given at us, let's see what the other 13 nominees have in 'em.

"Spiders" is similiar, somewhat maybe better but again nothing special, being simply a very good song which I can listen to a lot. These 2 have this mainstream approach to theirs construction and actually that is the only problem with 'em, being maybe too accesible and simple. No matter - they're good and just a foreplay for what's to come.

"River out of Eden" is an awesome easy ballad with LaBrie guiding us through the song with an excellent chorus, good lyrics (actually the lyrics are phenomonal through the complete album) oh and how good that solo near the end is ! Great, great, great and yet not even near the greatest.

Yum, yumm, "Message from the Mountain", an almost 10 mins epic with an symphonic opening - very good starting of a song which is then blown away by a simple yet very addictive, hooky and catchy lead rythm (very much thanx to LaBrie). Offcourse the chorus is something very good with LaBrie soaring through unbelievable pitches. Oh, and I must not forget to mention the solos at the end of the song, one word - brilliance !! And guess what ? Not the best, oh no... lot's more to come.

We then have 2 ballads, first being "Your Eyes" that's short clocking at almost 3 minutes but is good anyway, and "La Mer" a ballad gold brick!! I mean you listen to the song and you're thinking "yes it's just a ballad like any other", until you hear the chorus for the first time and then you wet your pants. LaBrie is pulling his lungs out here going from the lowest to the highest possible tone in just seconds. Even in Dream Theater he didn't sing this good (altough in Train of Thought no big challenges were there to take on) which means he really evolved. If you're not convinced this album is good by now then read on and hear my further praises... he he.

"Nice Guys Finish First" is a logical response to the mood of the 2 previous songs, which means here we have a good happy rocker. And it's actually more than good, it's bloody amazing, crowned by a weird but to me great chorus, that somewhat reminds me of Queen. Great guitar and hammond in this song, I tell you, this album has everything, and it's all good!!

"Arms Races" is the THING of this album, although all songs really are quality. Another epic of 8 and half mins' with non-arguebly the BEST chorus, best atmosphere and, hell it's just damn good in every way. And by the way maybe the heaviest one on the album but mostly beacause of the opening heavy riffs. Great, great and great.

"Origins and Miracles" start's in an easy Dire Straits style, which made me instantly hooked. And again LaBrie's performance is outstanding and the song is great, a masterpiece of a ballad, great piano, good chorus, atmosphere and the whole package.

"Off the Ground" is just like "Nice Guys Finish First" a great rocker, but with more speed and crunch, and all other compliments are here. Do I have to say what's good in the song ? Every damn musical element.

"Walking through Genetic Space" starts with a cool over-dubbed LaBrie singing and that continues into a very good mid-paced song that every now and then picks up speed and then again drops it. Great stuff.

"Cultural Genetics" is the only song with hard riffs just like "Arms Races", and probably the weirdest song on the album mostly due to the opening which is like hearing a completed rythm paused every second and played every second. Song then continues into nothing special but evolves into a great song (except the almost techno keyboard sounds sometimes) especially just after it's middle when the guitar steps in....oh but not the electric.. no... take the album and you're gonna know what I mean by saying it's absolutely a genious idea.

"Bats" is the weakest track on the album but still great, although it's solos are maybe one of the best. No song on this album can go completely wrong, 'cause there always something extremely good in 'em.

"Above the Grass - Part II" ends the album with great style. It opens in the manner of "Message from the Mountain" which means symphonic greatness, and then easy and relaxed acoustics with LaBrie filling all the voids between. Step by step the song catches up some speed and more and more in it's epic and symphonic ways. Simply too good, an excellent song for an album ending, perfectly circling this masterpiece.

What more can I say. If you like Dream Theater (especially their first albums), progressive metal and rock or any type of rock, just buy this and you won't regret it. It's simply a great album that shall stay in my ears for a long long time.