Melodic Revolution Records
Words: Craig Hartranft
Unified Past has been hanging about the American prog rock scene, most suspiciously undercover, since 1984. That's better than 30 years, folks, recording six albums. They return with their seventh disc, Shifting The Equilibrium, and comes with a new edition, perhaps an ace-in-the-hole.
Unified Past welcomes a new lead vocalist with Phil Naro. An industry professional, Naro has a Daytime Emmy to his credit and has worked with some true players in the biz including Peter Criss, Lou Gramm, Carmine Appice, Billy Sheehan, and Brian May. That's the short list. The short description of his vocal style is probably, direct and melodic, yet versatile. Yet in the context of the sound of Unified Past we can add more shape. I always felt that UP, in the larger melodic progressive rock context, sounded like a some hybrid of Rush and Yes, with their own personal touches tossed in. Naro, in this context, has some of the tone and timbre of both Geddy Lee and Jon Anderson, without the former's sometimes nasal screeching and the latter's lilting high pitch. Frankly, I think it's a great match, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese on rye, good. And prog is often difficult to sing, but Naro picks up the inherent melody in the song structure as the lyrics connect to the same.
As for the tunes within, there are six songs of traditional melodic progressive rock. It's elaborate and expansive, perhaps a bit heavier in the riffs, without being grossly or annoyingly technical. That's to say that you can tell the structure is still the song. But, after this, there's plenty of room for guitarist Speelman, drummer Tassone, and bassist Mickelson to go ape shit crazy with their own skill instrumental wizardry and wonkery. Especially, Speelman. Amidst the abundance of his guitar solos, he's also weaving his synths. (You did know he has two extra arms, right?) In other words, with the proper dovetailing of technical musicianship and song accessibility, the aspiring musician will enjoy this as much as the casual listener (such as myself).
There's much to ponder in each song when listening, suggesting some attention. I'm not saying you have to drop everything and concentrate but, too catch the nuances, you may want several spins. Having said this, while I found the whole rather engrossing and impressive, Smile came across a tad tedious. I think it was the continuous muted riffage underneath and the simple fact that it never seemed to get started. The highlights, guitar and synth work, are in the last third. Nevertheless, it's still a fine song and works well with the whole. Fundamentally, and as expected, Shifting The Equilibrium is pretty fandamntastic, more creative melodic power progressive rock from some talented masters of the genre. Easily recommended.
Unified Past's Shifting The Equilibrium is pretty fandamntastic, more creative melodic power progressive rock from some talented masters of the genre. Easily recommended.
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