Returning to solo recording almost immediately after forming Utopia, Todd Rundgren continued with the synth-heavy prog rock he pioneered with Todd Rundgren's Utopia on Initiation. The differences immediately resonate with "Real Man," a terrific song that encapsulates not only his newfound fondness for electronics, but also his burgeoning spirituality and his knack for pop craft. "Real Man" is so good, it's tempting to believe that the remainder of Initiation will follow in the same direction, resulting in an inspired, truly progressive fusion of classic Rundgren and synthesizers. As soon as the second track, an a cappella vocoder opus called "Born to Synthesize," it's clear that Rundgren has no intention of following that path, choosing to push the limits of synth technology and recorded music instead of constructing an album. Initiation suffers accordingly. At times, particularly on the first, song-oriented side, it is pretty intriguing, but too often, the results are simply frustrating because it doesn't go anywhere. That's particularly true with "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire," a half-hour "suite" that comprises all of side two and doesn't really go anywhere, despite hitting many stops along the way. It's enough to erase the memory of "Real Man," "Eastern Intrigue" and "Initiation," the moments where it all comes together on the first half of the record, but another spin of the first side reveals that Rundgren could have made Initiation something special if he had the discipline.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine