Pretty much the definition of crossover prog
And what that means is: a "pool" of influences coming from all around the progressive rock spectrum with a considerable touch of popular music, and not necessarily bad, simply ear-pleasing music.
Shawn Gordon of Progrock Records blends in his first album sounds also from blues, classic rock, jazz and "Standing Wave" results in sounding like a compilation of different ideas composed over time rather than through a cohesive effort with a single mindset; this was my initial impression which was subsequently confirmed with further spins.
The new wave of symphonic/crossover prog rock part is the one that dominates the album, and this is explicitly shown in the opening "On my Own" (could have been a Spock's Beard/Neil Morse track) with the intricate drumming by the master Mark Zonder. Similar, though "mellower" numbers are "Shed my Skin" and "Blacken what is Grey" (nice piano) that follow this light symphonic prog mentality. Of these "Shed my Skin" is possibly the best in terms of composition as its being worked in such a way that builds up to a strong refrain melody with punchy bass lines. The album also touches on heavy rock/progressive metal with the numbers "Euthymal" (possibly the weakest track with uninspiring vocal lines) and "Blood", which reminds me of Jorn Lande and his more metallic works with Ark. In both tracks, the drumming preserves the prog character of the more-or-less standard heavy rock riffs. "She Knows" is a tribute to Genesis, based on dreamy, layered, earthy acoustic guitars and vocal lines coming out of 70's Genesis - unfortunately the weak refrain takes away the beauty of this track, even though the piano/flute interlude restores the balance midway.
We're not over yet: "Pushing the One" is a top-class jazzy/funky instrumental with the saxophone allowed to improvise all the way through, the rhythm guitars playing on a "muted" distortion and the soloing coming in melodic when needed to balance the virtuosity with the emotion. "Once Begun" reminds me the melodies of the American prog metal band Black Symphony; four minutes purely based on a piano melody and strong nostalgic vocal melodies. Alice Cooper's "School's Out" cover does not add much to the package, but towards the end the female vocals give yet again a different dimension. "Get me out of Here" is an aggressive (yet acoustic-based guitar) tune led by emotional female vocals and incorporating elements from blues rock, country music and funk (Santana anyone?). The album ends with a rather lengthy prog-ballad in the same vein of female-fronted modern prog music (Karnataka etc.) but does not add this bit of extra magic required.
I felt that this is nowhere near a "Standing" Wave as the album floats from side to side, from mellow to heavy, up and down, good to mediocre and ends up in a mixed bag. Although the end result is quite "easy" to digest, it maintains its prog character. With a stricter selection of tracks, this could have been even better, but still as it is it deserves 3-3.5 stars. For those enjoying a variety of moods in a single album, this might be for you, hoping that this was not a "one-off".
Best moments: Shed my Skin, Pushing the One, Once Begun
Originally posted in http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=928283