Presto Ballet

Peace Among the Ruins

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Prog rock circa the early 21st century was quite a different beast than when the genre first appeared on the scene in the 1970s. Originally, the style was much more gritty sounding, and while there was an exorbitant amount of extended jams/solos, the playing wasn't always virtuosic (in other words, a flubbed note or two wasn't a cardinal sin). But later on, the production of prog records became increasingly sterile, with the instrumentalists never ever dropping a note. In fact, the superhuman playing seemed to turn prog into one big sporting event. But there have been a few exceptions to the rule, such as Presto Ballet. Featuring founding Metal Church guitarist and chief songwriter Kurdt Vanderhoof, Presto Ballet hark back to the days of 2112, Leftoverture, and Fragile -- in other words, you get loads of synthesizer and Hammond organ. But whereas many prog rockers of the '70s possessed singers with impenetrably high singing voices, Presto Ballet's vocalist, Scott Albright, sings in a more "classic rock" style. Additionally, although the majority of the tracks stretch past the five-minute mark, songwriting remains the main focus. Still, the music here is vintage prog, especially such selections as the tour de force "Speed of Time," the bombastic album-opening title track, and the early Styx-ish "Sunshine." Peace Among the Ruins is proof that true prog still exists.

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