It’s fascinating to envision the niches that bands create for themselves, without really designing to either. They just follow their hearts and souls, play what they love, and a little corner of the music world is carved out. For today’s example, we have the sophomore album by Reason, The Deception of Dreams. Coming from Gloucestershire, Uk. this labor of love project from vocalist Paul Mace and guitarist Chris Cyngell along with bassist Gray Corbett, keyboardist Gil Hird and drummer John Townsend does its very best to squeeze in that ever so gray zone between prog rock and prog metal. It’s a tricky one too, cause if you get too much crunchiness in the guitars or to many ear piercing screams from your James LaBrie wanna be vocalist of the day, you get slotted into prog metal, but on the other side of the coin, get a little to hippie with the thematic elements and have one too many mellotron and Scandinavian nikelharpa solos, and you are slotted into prog rock (barely). So how do you become progressive hard rock?
Reason starts off the album with Synchronised, and the dive right in without using any smoke and mirrors, what they intend to play is what you hear, for better or worse. A perfect example of this is the sound of Cyngell’s guitar, it is raw and genuine, almost refreshing in these days of over processed 8 string blah blah blah. Oh, and he does know how to play it folks, very well in fact. The rest of the band follows suit with a really genuine sound that is hard, forceful, but not overbearing. Mace keeps his vocals subdued, finding his own groove and sticking to it, at times it works, and others it is a detriment. The music is powerful and intense, and the vocals just don’t always keep up with it. The style doesn’t vary much over the nine tracks, though there is some serious intensity to the overall album. There is a very 70’s vibe to the overall product, a testament to the many artists that laid the groundwork for both hard rock and prog.
Fire Eternal has an anthem feel to it, a certain surge of intensity surrounding the chorus with some serious riffage abounding. Heartless however loses the intensity of the chorus with some unnecessary electronic effects on the vocals, though the ripper guitar work more than makes up for it. If there’s one thing this album isn’t short on, it’s ripper guitar work. I weep for poor Chris’s fingertips at times. Another nice pairing that comes out is the almost industrial feel of the rhythm section, the chunky bass paired with the deadpan drums really adds to the overall authenticity of the sound. They take a break from the beating with September Child, and the ballad form is so much more fitting for Mace’s vocal style, a really nice song overall. Nothing brings the band back to the harder sound, and Revalation seems to find a nice nitch between the hard and ballad, probably my favorite track on the album. It seems to bring the best out of all the band’s talents. Star Crossed is another good rocker, leading into the album closer Souldrift, the longest track at over nine minutes. They bring out all the elements for this one, with again the highlight being the intense riffage and the blistering guitar work.
The overall album has it’s highs and lows. The overall writing is good, though there is some choppiness with the transitions, the songs don’t always flow smoothly, affecting the flow a bit. The lyrical element is hopeful and uplifting, but painfully cheesy at times. The recording and mixing is average, with a certain muddiness to it that affects the sound. Highlights are definitely the individual performances, with every player having standout moments and sheer talent shining through. Also, the difficult task of hitting that spot right in between prog rock and metal was accomplished wonderfully. By taking a page from their hard rock forefathers, and keeping it honest and real, Reason has delivered a solid album of prog hard rock.