Like the heavily Gentle Giant-influenced album The Allegory of Light, Syzygy’s impressive debut from 2003, Realms of Eternity, the Ohio band’s sophomore release—or its third, depending if one counts a single platter the group issued under the name Witsend back in the ’90s—still has those same influences sprinkled throughout when it comes to several tracks, but here the musicians have also considerably expanded their style into numerous other realms. And for this outing, the band also brought in accomplished vocal powerhouse Mark Boals, who surprisingly doesn’t sound like the “normal” Mark Boals I’d come to admire from ultra-slamming albums he did with Ring Of Fire, Royal Hunt, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc., but instead has trimmed away much of the former gruffness from his vocal cords, and his smoother tone and occasionally dramatic delivery seem absolutely perfect for this intriguing material.
On both shorter and lengthier tracks such as “Dreams,” “The Sea,” “Darkfield,” “Variations, Parts 1 & 2,” “Vanitas,” and the mammoth and glorious “Dialectic,” the band delves deeper into Yes and Genesis territory, featuring countless passages, shifting moods, and elaborate scoring, while also giving generous nods toward outfits such as Spock’s Beard, Moon Safari, The Flower Kings, Jethro Tull, Transatlantic, etc., all of which makes for another grand affair of classic Symphonic Prog-Rock with a touch of Avant-Prog.
Although the vocal segments are generally melodious, with a few songs openly flirting with Pomp Rock and AOR-styled choruses, the band simultaneously injects layered and labyrinthine harmony arrangements that once again bring the Gentle Giant influences to the fore. Meanwhile, the band delivers the vigorous and astounding material with top-quality musicianship. Indeed, the nimble fingers of guitarist Carl Baldassarre and keyboardist Sam Guinta continually impress, while bassist Al Rolik and drummer Paul Mihacevich consistently direct the band through twists and turns galore, showcasing everyone’s sheer diversity and talent.
As a quick aside, I must declare that it’s a crying shame the grayscale cover art is so damned bland and sedate, since the music on offer is the complete opposite—colorful, exciting, and vibrant—and the artwork doesn’t even come close in reflecting what’s in store for the listener.
Anyway, since this terrific release, the group put out a live “digipak” album in 2012, then Cosmos and Chaos in 2014, a “20th Anniversary Compendium” of the album previously issued under the Witsend name from 1993, but no other fresh material. I’m just hoping the band is still active and in the process of creating additional Prog-Rock magic for a future release.
Now, can someone please tell me once and for all how to actually pronounce the name of this exceptional band?
• Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals – Al Rolik
• Cello – Michael DeBruyn (tracks: 1)
• Co-producer [Assistant Producer] – Chris Keffer
• Engineer [Engineered By] – Carl Baldassarre, Chris Keffer
• Flute – Virginia Crabtree (tracks: 1)
• Guitar, Theremin, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – Carl Baldassarre
• Keyboards – Sam Giunta
• Percussion, Drums, Backing Vocals – Paul Mihacevich
• Producer, Directed By – Carl Baldassarre
• Violin – Erica Ward (tracks: 1)
• Vocals – Mark Boals (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 6 to 13), Peggy McLoughlin (tracks: 4)
1 Darkfield 10:35
2 Vanitas 6:02
3 Dreams 10:31
4 Echoes Remain 5:23
5 Dialectic 16:35
6 Arranmore Isle 2:04
7 Overture 2:42
8 The Sea 5:22
9 The Morning Song 3:26
10 Variations, Part 1 4:04
11 Variations, Part 2 3:15
12 Reflections 1:44