"Machinery Of The Gods" (Fossil Records; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

What happens when you mix equal parts Rush, Joe Satriani, classical music, and ELP with self-production and mp3 technology? You get folks putting out music that might not otherwise see the light of day given the current state of music distribution. Gary W. Franklin and William L. Neumann are two individuals taking advantage of the mp3 format to distribute their music to the world.

This 1999 release is a studio-driven project and has a variety of musical styles ranging from progressive metal to gothic/power metal as well as jazz fusion. The songs are nearly equally split between instrumentals and songs with vocals. Lyrically, the songs tell dramatic stories - something sorely lacking in metal today. Franklin and Neumann play all the instruments and sing all the vocals on "Machinery Of The Gods."

The strongest instrumental track on the disc is "Android Dreams" which has a very eclectic structure with some ambitious, without being ostentatious, guitar melodies; the musical passages are very lyrical without being too complicated - the song was inspired by the movie "Blade Runner" (The title of the book from which the film was drawn is "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Ed.) The strongest vocal track is "Event Horizon" which brings forth a stylish power metal riff and a strong guitar solo; the song is about a man who sacrifices his friends so that he might live through the event horizon of a black hole.

The ambitious trilogy "Symphony Of Man" starts off the disc in a grand fashion. The first stanza "Kings And Commoners" has an instrumental prelude to the beginning of the story where average citizens are taken away from their families to fight a war for the King. The second stanza, "Princes" opens with a flurry of guitar runs and full of Middle Eastern melodies; the story continues with the central character wondering if he was wise to wish for something he now regrets. The third stanza, "Thieves" starts off in a somber mood before bursting out into a charging rhythm telling the tale of how commoners eventually become kings.

"Mind's Eye" is a mix of Satriani-styled boogie surf guitar and "Countdown" has a wah-wah drenched solo. "Mendelsohn's Electric Guitar Concerto" is a short, but well played instrumental piece based on Mendelsohn's Violin Concerto No. 1 in E minor. "I Can See Forever", the first song written by the Franklin-Neumann tandem, has the same energy and technical virtuosity found in Shadow Gallery's music.

Although the vocals tend to be buried in the mix, the vocals recall some very key voices in the rock's history. "Need To Be (Osiris Gets A Mouth)" has a vocal reminiscent of Triumph's Rik Emmett, the title track has a vocal reminiscent of Geoff Tate of Queensryche, and the ballad "Forever In Your Eyes" recalls Brad Delp of Boston.

Although the production is a bit weak (especially the vocals which are buried in the mix), it is evident that there is a lot of talent in the hearts, minds, and souls of Gary W. Franklin and William L Neumann. I listened to the CD on headphones first and I wasn't pleased with the results I was getting, however, the sound through a good set of speakers is well worth it.

I have great respect for those whose talents far exceed my own no matter what the final product and no matter the means by which it is delivered. The mp3 format may just be the way we listen to music in the future and the way that a greater variety of music is heard by the masses without relying on the normal distribution channels in mass media today.

Check the band's website for more information and a link to the website to purchase their CD "Machinery Of The Gods."

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10 Jan 2019 01:27:05 -0500 .