The Wild Beyond
Ultra Mega Sound Records
He has Impressive help here from a rhythm section (Charles Goold - drums, Steve Conroy - bass) but The Wild Beyond is basically singer and multi-instrumentalist Max Hodes, who also wrote all the songs except for one. Fans of progressive rock will absolutely love this set of tunes that, while not being derivative, hint at the work of great acts like Rush ("Fire's Body") and Styx ("Just One Drop"). The lavish instrumentation of "Reflex Driver" is augmented by a huge drum sound and the song would have been stunning had it been only an instrumental but with Hodes singing/shrieking in a tone that mashes up Axl Rose and Stevie Wonder the song really blasts off into the Jetstream. Hodes' musical prowess is on display throughout and his guitar work is up there with stars like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani on the frenetic "Wake Up." The entire B-side of the album is taken up by "Opening," a 23-minute piece that begins with a lengthy (synthesized?) didgeridoo drone and wordless singing that sounds vaguely medieval; the song hangs on the edge of a crescendo for its entire length, constantly hinting that there's a change coming, but in fact it is just one long trippy jam. Easily one of the best prog releases to come along in a long time.