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Very Different. - 77%

hells_unicorn, February 11th, 2007

Two years after the release of his break through solo effort “Ring of Fire” and the formation of his other Power/Prog band under the same name, Mark Boals released his third solo album “Edge of the World”. It is a departure from the former primarily in that the stylistic pursuits of this album are extremely varied, the number of musicians involved is quite large, and the overall atmosphere of the album is one of transcendence and enlightenment.

The principle difference between this album and the last is the much slower tempo of the vast majority of the songs on here, almost to the point of being down tempo Prog metal. Vinny Appice’s presence on all but two tracks on this album as the drummer is the principle cause of this, as he is not cut from the speed metal vain. The sound he gets from his kit and the beats he provides are the typical varied beats with measured fills that were seen on “The Mob Rules” and Dio’s earlier material.

An additional influence upon the variety found on here is the presence of different guitarists on here as principle musicians on several tracks. The Neil Citron tracks have a high amount of Led Zepplin and 70s Prog rock influences at work, both “Up to You” and “The Criminal” having elements of mystically bound songs like “Kashmir” and earlier Zepplin songs from the first 4 albums. Chris Brooks provides the guitars for opening track “Fly” and when combined with the heavily Prog. inspired keyboard work by Erik Norlander creates an atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of bands like Ayreon. Jeff Kollman’s guitar riffs are also a bit Prog influenced and his solos are heavily effects drenched and have a vocal quality: “Trouble in Paradise” sounds almost like a marriage of Tangerine Dream and Stratovarius, while “Hold on (to our love)” sounds like Queensryche with a lot of keyboards.

The tracks with Tony Macalpine and Virgil Donati both on them are the most similar to the music found on “Ring of Fire”. “Taking Control” is the only track on here with hints at speed metal, but the heavy keyboard presence gives it a more Power/Prog atmosphere. “Crossfire” sounds a bit like one of the slower songs off of the last album, we get plenty of awesome shredding by Macalpine and a wickedly fast double bass attack at the end of the album, but again the keyboard ambiences give it an Ayreon tinge.

As for recommendations, if you were a fan of “Ring of Fire” for the speed tracks, you probably won’t like what’s on here. I would suggest that power/speed metal fans look into the stuff Ring of Fire put out, particularly “The Oracle” and “Dreamtower”, those two are much closer to what you heard on there than this is. Mostly this is geared towards fans of intellectual Progressive Metal outfits such as Dream Theater and Ayreon. The guitar is great and if you are a fan of Tony Macalpine he dominates the majority of the tracks on here, but this is definitely not a Power Metal album.