Liquid Tension Experiment is basically a side project, or experiment aside from Dream Theater, it is Dream Theater essentially without Labrie and a different bassist. For those of you unfamiliar with Dream Theater, the Liquid Tension Experiment lineup is...
John Petrucci - Guitars
Tony Levin - bass, chapman stick
Jordan Rudess - keyboards
Mike Portnoy - Drums
This album, released in 1998 on Magna Carta records was written and recorded in under a week. Because of this, alot of the album is improvisation, showcasing the talents of these musicians.
The opener, Paradigm Shift starts the album off at a blistering pace. Some serious shredding by Petrucci leads right into some cool rock/metal licks that keep the pace going at an intense pace. This sets the mood perfect for what is to come on the rest of the album. This song continues to change pace from pure speed to slower, wah-oriented riffs and experimental harmonies infront of nice synth and bass backings. There are both traditional Dream Theater guitar and synth solos, which lead the song slower and slower but soon the song returns to it's awesome speed. Awesome song here.
The second track, Osmosis is basically a filler, just an exotic slow synth riff with some guitar, and bass wankery going on.
After being lulled by Osmosis, Kindred Spirits is sure to wake you up. Starts with a nice mid-paced progressive/Dream Theater type riff and ends with some nice solos going on with some jazzy stuff in the middle.
The Stretch starts off with some weird, funky kind of riffs going on. This is basically a filler, it's got some cool Rudess synth soloing in there for a bit. Nothing special though.
After another filler, Freedom of Speech comes in with a slow, piano riff and some chapman stick action from Levin. This song showcases their musical talent, they start going jazz fusion in this song. You can definitely pick out some Mahavishnu Orchestra influences here before breaking out of this jazz fusion shell. The song emerges into a metal/flamenco kind of thing, with some awesome Rudess soloing which leads into Petrucci shredding away. This song blows me away, awesome song.
Then after an awesome song, we have yet another filler with Chris and Kevin's excellent Adventure. There is some good bass action and some interesting commentary from Mr. Portnoy here but nothing special.
State of Grace is just Petrucci and Rudess playing together in grace, hence the name. This just shows how well these two really blend together as musicians. Good song here, especially from a musicians standpoint. Theres no real fast playing here, just emotion.
After State of Grace, here comes another high speed song with Univeral Mind. This is the most interesting song on here, starts with some fast shredding before going into some cool wah-leads. This song has some insane solos all the way through, this is the song that i think defines Liquid Tension Experiment as a whole. As the song progresses, the band takes you on adventures through funk, jazz, guitar and synth mastery, reggae/caribean music and circus music (i'm not joking, circus music. Think of a clown, and you have the music.) Awesome song.
The closer, Three Minute Warning is 28 minutes of complete improvisation. It's a good listen if you have time to listen to 28 minutes of music. Though it takes a while for the four of them to come together and all be playing together.
As expected, the music is absolutely mindblowing. Coming from the guys from Dream Theater, this was a given.
The energy here, alot of people regard Dream Theater as a band in it for technicalities sake and are incapable of producing an emotional lead or solo. For you doubters, Liquid Tension Experiment is full of emotion.
The sound quality is excellent, it has to be in order to hear all of what's going on.
The solos don't go on for too long, i think they got the arrangements perfect on this album. Everything flows wonderfully.
Too many filler tracks, this really takes away from the album, but what i can say; this album was written and recorded in a week.
It isn't exactly heavy metal, there are no riffs that you can really bang your head to (so to speak.) It's more of a rock album, but made with a metal touch by these guys.
Overall, 4/5. I love this album, but the fillers really do take away from the album.