Greg Northrup    3-November-2001 Night On Bald Mountain

Fireballet was an American band that played full-blown symphonic progressive in the mid to late 70s. Basically this was a recipe for disaster for commercial success, and the group apparently went downhill fast (read: pop) after their first album, Night on Bald Mountain. The album is considered something of a cult classic (only bootleg versions are available on CD) and has its share of devoted fans. The album fits squarely into the Yes/Genesis mold - grandiose arrangements, swirling synths and melodic vocal passages. For me, it's a little too derivative to make much of an impression. Not that being derivative in and of itself is a bad thing, other bands like England were able to pull of the Yes/Genesis cloning and still keep things interesting. For my money though, Fireballet just isn't that talented, instead relying on fairly cliched material that just doesn't live up to the greatness of their heroes. The music is very reliant on the keyboards, but it is the drumming and vocals that strike me as weak points. The keyboard and guitar, while competently played, do not display anything particularly mind blowing, just typical "proggy" type themes that aren't really in the least bit original.

"Centurion" features a more aggressive vocal part. "The Fireballet" just reeks of inferior Yes-cloning, especially in the vocals. Fittingly, the next track "Atmospheres" is a carbon copy of early Genesis, complete with pastoral Anthony Phillips like guitar and Gabriel-esque intonation. Who's left? Why, Emerson Lake & Palmer of course. Fireballet throws in a classical adaptations of Debussy and (of course) Mussorgsky into their (of course) token 20 minute epic. To be fair, this one is actually the best track on the album, with some very nice keyboard themes and the best vocal performance, but overall, I'm fairly unimpressed. Nothing here that hasn't been done better, and as far as cloning goes, I'd probably rather hear Babylon or England do it right.

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