|Greg Northrup||3-November-2001||A Granite Scale|
Ironia's style can be simply described as modern hard rock with occasional "prog" flourishes like shifting time signatures and overtly complex playing. Overall, the album can be a generally inconsistent listen from the perspective of a progressive rock fan, as most of the music is really in no way experimental, preferring to cling to tried and true hard rock structures and clichés, especially concerning the vocals. Still, the players here are solid and instrumentally tight, and when allowed free reign, make for the albums more interesting moments. The bass and guitar are particularly bright, weaving together some interesting lines and riffs. Given the obvious proficiency of the band members, care still needs to be taken as far as favoring "wank" over content. Generally speaking however, the instrumental portions are certainly a bright spot, especially on rhythmically complex cuts like "Toe Jam" and "Rhino Racing".
On the whole, this is a long album, and the moments of interest for me are outweighed by those more formulaic and bland. "Song of Parting" and "Around the Bend" are tepid power ballads without much power, obviously lacking the grandiose production values of the groups that popularized the format. Although the vocalist seems to have won his share of accolades (according to band's bio), he is the weakest member of the group, perpetuating a generic style and incorporating phrasings right out of the late 80s. His best moment comes on "God's Song", probably the best non-instrumental track, in which the band, while still faithful to formulas, pulls a very memorable tune together. Another album highlight comes during the instrumental breaks on "Shackleton Perseveres", during which some very nice keyboard riffs come to the fore.
Overall, fans of strictly progressive rock might find little interest in
A Granite Scale, although those with more of a leaning towards the
hard rock axis might certainly find some enjoyment in this. Ultimately, this
is a band that has the chops to pull off a very good progressive rock album,
but one that would probably involve dumping the more commercial element (one
which is seriously dated in any case), and focusing on creating the kind of
exploratory, adventurous instrumental music they hint at here.
|Peter Thelen||3-November-2001||A Granite Scale
(Cult V CV32601, 2001, CD)
Ironia’s style is rooted in the 70s, sort of an average, unrefined, beer guzzling, hat-on-backwards hard rock. A five piece of g/b/k/d, and a dedicated vocalist (doubling on keys), this five-piece from Jersey has an attitude and wants you to know it. For the first half of the disc, their music goes through a literal amusement park full of influences, few of which have more than marginal merit in the area of progressive rock - Sabbath, Mountain, Uriah Heep, etc. Track 3 “Song of Parting” tones down the punch a bit with its “Sleeping Village” like intro, but the singer is an ear-piercing shrieker that even makes the tolerable parts a difficult listen. All that begins to change mid-disk around “Rhino Racing”, a short instrumental tune in odd meter, that shows plenty of promise. Other tunes like “Shackleton Perseveres” have some cool and complex instrumental sections wrapped around otherwise lame vocal passages. “Toe Jam” has a cool odd-meter long instrumental intro and outro with some quirky spoken parts in between, but it’s followed by “Life is Hard”, a ballad that descends into Dennis DeYoung StyxPop territory. At times the material in the second half bears nothing in common with the average hard rock slag that occupies the first half. The band can play, and a few of the tracks here show quite a bit of promise, but they need to ditch the hard rock and pop pretenses and get on with something more conceptually innovative and original sounding.
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