Review Summary: In the ship of the crimson pirate.Alpha
is a voyage through traditional Progressive rock. It's an album composed of lengthy musical passages that are embellished with eloquent displays of instrumental virtuosity and metaphorically ambiguous lyricism. Alpha
reflects an eclectic range of influences, but correlates all of these different musical styles into an orchestrated performance that always manages remain faithful to the conventions of Progressive music. "Chasing Scepter"
opens the album and also adumbrates the musical direction of Alpha
. The song commences with an aggressive tone, induced by distorted guitar arrangements and a prominent double-bass drumming pattern. But throughout the song's progression, the guitar work and vocal deliveries begin to project a more mellow vibe, thematically complimenting each other to induce a more atmospheric sound. From here we descend into "Gateway To That Place"
, one of the highlights of the album. "Gateway To That Place"
exhibits a very diverse musical landscape, projecting the familiar cosmic aesthetics of traditional spacey Progressive rock, before bombarding us with a powerful Heavy Metal delivery in the latter portion.
One of the impressive attributes of the album that really manages to standout is the instrumental dexterity of Michael Smith, particularly his guitar abilities. His solos can go from eruptive and relentless aggression, to a much more restrained and melodic sound. The drumming is also just as impressive, but not often as adroit as the guitar performances. The percussive arrangements are often too grandiose, and even manage to disrupt the harmonic framework of the other instruments. For example, there are few moments in "Chasing Scepter"
when the drumming becomes overly vigorous and dynamic and has trouble synchronizing to the rhythm of the music. But there are also moments when the percussive sections prove to be innovative and effective, like the performance in "First Of Its Kind"
. The vocal narratives are another liability of the album. And it isn't that Michael Smith is an inadequate singer, but he lacks a sense of passion and confidence that could allure the listener much easier and make the songs more accessible.
But luckily for Trvth, Progressive rock is a genre that can forgive a less than effective singer if the instrumental elements can prove to captivate enthusiasm within their ingenuity- and for the most part, Trvth does that admirably. "Your Opposer Destroyed"
is one of the most eminent moments of the album. It's a classical piece that serves as a very gentle interlude from all of the more elevated songs of the album, adding a sense of elegance and beauty to the listening experience. As I've said before, the album really stays true to the traditions of Progressive rock that were conceived by the early defining acts. "Telling It How It Is"
displays all of the habitual practices of the genre, becoming this musical odyssey that transcends through different musical soundscapes to create one truly elaborate performance. "Desperate"
is yet another highlight and one that fully embraces the aggressive influences of Heavy Metal to release a burst of instrumental intensity.
In recent years, we've certainly seen a number of acts beginning to embrace the musical style of Progressive rock, but very few manage to harness the imaginative artistry that goes into creating a compelling Progressive rock album. And here we have a relatively amateur musician who lacks the advantages of a recording studio, but was still able to compose an album that provides a listening experience that could stand its ground in comparison. It's mesmerizing to think what this musician could accomplish if given the conveniences of being signed to a record label. And I'm certain that goal won't be too difficult of a reach if Michael Smith continues to follow the path he has set out for himself. Concentrating his energy into improving and reaching a better understanding of the sounds he wants his instruments to exude, all in the hopes of becoming more fluent in the language of music.