Review Summary: Accessible Prog?...4 of 4 thought this review was well written
The Progressive Nation ’08 tour is the darling tour of Sputnik. Perennial favorites of this site, Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, and everyone’s favorite band to want more of, Opeth, make up this tour. There is, however, a fourth band, and that is American Prog outfit, 3. With their fifth full length album, The End is Begun
, they make a valid case for why they belong on this tour and are not just the lame opening act.
Joey Eppard-Vocals, guitar
Joe Stote-Percussion, keyboards
With The End is Begun
, the crew from Woodstock combine their heavier elements from their last album, Wake Pig, and blend it more smoothly with their style from earlier albums. This leads to an album that is more epic in nature than their previous efforts. All elements blend beautifully. This record flows together nearly seamlessly.
The vocals for this album are beautifully done. They are of the higher register and come dangerously close to boy band material, but never reach it. Eppard handles it well, without going too crazy. His vocals, however, often times do not match the intensity of the music. His vocals are much more dreamlike then the often intense music behind them. He is at his best when he amps up to match the intensity such as on tracks like My Divided Falling
. His vocals still make the sound combined all around unique but could be more.
A place where this album really shines is with Eppard and Riker’s guitar work. Eppard is the main attraction though, whether he’s finger picking, utilizing his flamenco style of play, or soloing. His solos are especially well done. It is most clear in These Iron Bones
. They fit the music perfectly and don’t turn into thoughtless wank like many other Progressive bands (Yeah I’m talking about you Dream Theater). Riker holds his own, however, with backing riffs that remind the listener he is an essential part of the music.
The rhythm section of the band is up to par with the rest of the instruments. Grimsland is a beast with the bass and shines at many points on the album, Battle Cry
being the definite highlight, where his Bass stands out and makes the track truly memorable and astounding. The highlight of this section though is Gartmann’s drumming. His drumming flawlessly suits the music, and he gives his best performance yet, bringing fast and slow rhythms where they fit and, rather than hitting every note possible, drums to suit the music. Every track on this album highlights just what an amazing drummer he is.
The track that best invokes 3 playing at their best is the opening track The World is Born of Flame
. It is an acoustic track that instantly introduces the spacey vocals with the diverse instrumentals behind them. The keyboards play by Stote on this track blend perfectly with the guitars and builds in intensity until the end when a darker tone is introduced and the first electric guitar can be heard, introducing the title track and true highlight of the album.
The End is Begun
is the heaviest song on the album and demonstrates everything 3 can be when they're at their best. The vocal style clashes with the bleak viewpoint of the lyrics, discussing society’s downfall, and the chorus of this masterpiece is gripping and one that will stay stuck in your head long after this album is done spinning. The musicianship is top-notch as usual and this is especially a highlight track for the drums, which are magnificent.
The End is Begun
does have some problems. Near the middle of the album it loses some steam that will not be found again till the end. Though no song can be described as filler because of the always great musicianship, tracks Bleeding Me Home
and Live Entertainment
come dangerously close. On these tracks the band settles and, rather than create interesting tracks, goes with a more generic poppy/indie sound. The production drowns out the percussion and some of the subtleties which take out a degree of the uniqueness of the band. The vocals also will not fit everyone’s taste because they are very Claudio Sanchez-like and not like what would be expected upon just hearing the music.
With The End is Begun
, 3 exhibits a very accessible progressive sound. The vocals are almost all clean so there’s no growls to have to overcome such as with a band like Opeth. 3 never become over-indulgent with the music such as a band like the Mars Volta. Solos are fantastic but never become down-right wankery. With this album, 3 has shown major potential. If they can continue to evolve and utilize what makes them best (great technical ability with every instrument complimenting each other perfectly) while fixing what holds them back (production, Eppard’s sometimes lack of vocal power), they may come to the forefront of Progressive Rock. With this album, however, they at least make a case for why they belong on the Progressive Nation ’08 tour. When you’re going to see Opeth, Dream Theater, and Between the Buried and Me, make sure you check out this group as well.
Fantastic Performances by each instrument
Coheed & Cambria, The Mars Volta and Porcupine Tree fans will find this enjoyable and not too much of a reach.
High-pitched vocals could irk some
Vocals don’t always match the music and sometimes are underwhelming
Production is somewhat lacking
The Word is Born of Flame
The End is Begun
Diamond in the Crush
These Iron Bones