on 31 January 2013
Now here we have a bit of a treat for all lovers of progressive rock. Written and led by the keyboard dazzle of Douglas Docker, the cunningly named Docker's Guild sees a whole host of first class musicians involved in this, the first part of a series of albums. How do the following grab you? Vocalists John Payne (Asia), Goran Edman (ex Malmsteen, Karmakanic), Tony Mills (TNT) and Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Epica), guitarists Guthrie Govan (Asia) and Jeff Watson (Night Ranger), bassist Tony Franklin (Blue Murder) and drummers Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth / Joe Satriani) and Magnus Jacobson (Miss Behavior). Not bad eh and fortunately the album sees good use of all amongst captivating compositions that have depth and soul.
The sound of The Mystic Technocracy results from the mixture of several music styles. Progressive rock is the main driving force with reference points in sound being Yes, ELP, Dream Theater and Genesis. Whilst the songwriting and vocal arrangements have an air of more traditional melodic rock and AOR acts, mostly Asia and Journey about them.
Couple this with more subtle and unusual influences from the likes of David Bowie (including a great cover of "Loving The Alien") and Jean-Michel Jarre and you will start to see how this is a big sounding record.
The Mystic Technocracy is perhaps, to be expected, a concept album (or first part of). It is the fictional outcome of a very simple observation: for 4000 years man has tortured, murdered, waged warfare and committed genocide in the name of the same God worshiped by Christians, Jews and Muslims, the three monotheistic religions. It is not a story against religion, but it is a story about the madness of man when he falls under the influence of fanatical dogmatic faith. This religious premise has then been plugged into a science-fiction universe, in which religion was created by a silicon-based life form, the Mystic Technocracy, in order to control, manipulate and eventually destroy humanity.
Song wise the album contains complex multi-section suites, more straightforward rock songs or ballads, as well as more unusual instrumental or groove-oriented tracks.
Highlights are pretty much all over, and whilst it make take a few spins to fully take stock of all on offer there are many moments of instant gratification such as the driving rock of the title track "The Mystic Technocracy" home to chugging riffs, parping keyboards and big vocals. The 8 minute epic "Darwin's Tears" showcases some of the more obscure influences mentioned but really works being a very compelling composition. "Judeo Christian Cosmogony" and the 11 minute 3 part-er "The Secret Of DNA" have everything plus the kitchen sink in them but are no worse off for it. Overall its compelling stuff with great performances from all involved.
Negatives? Not many, perhaps the guitars sound a little digitised being devoid of midrange but in a way this helps create a more "space age" quality to the music and is a small gripe.
Sonically the album is big, perhaps to be expected where keyboards (and variants of) make up a big part of the sonic landscape but its well mixed by Simon Hanhart (producer of Asia, Marillion and Arena) and mastered by Mike Lind (Dio, Talisman, Candlemass etc) so no complaints here either. The artwork inlay also promises to be a lush affair designed by the excellent Carl-Andre Beckston (aka monowasp).
Fans of any of the classic big prog names, or indeed newer variants ala Ayreon etc are urged to check this album out when released. A work of art is here with the emphasis firmly on songs and it promises to be a superb journey on future releases.
on 8 June 2013
Wow, here is the successor to Greg Guiffria's crown. I love progressive rock but find that a lot of the modern stuff is lifeless. So imagine my joy to find something that takes the best of the 70s concept album and brings it right into my living room in a cyber punk re imagining of the world. If William Gibson and Ian M Banks could get together with Fish, early Genesis, Yes and early Asia they might have be able to write a thought provoking saga of human evolution seen from a different point of view. That of the Technocrats.
Enough about the story. Musically this is the strongest Progressive album I have heard in years. If you love your progressive rock to be British in the finest sense of the word. I remember when I first listened to Greenslade and was like where is the guitar? It was the King of those moments when you discover a musical experience so complete. Douglas Docker is joined by luminaries from the rock, aor and progressive fields. These musicians show that if you work hard enough you can create an album that sounds like they have been playing together forever.
01. A Matter Of Energy.
02. The Mystic Technocracy.
03. Darwin's Tears.
04. Norse Cosmogony (Part 1).
05. Norse Cosmogony (Part 2).
06. Judeo-Christian Cosmogony.
07. The Divine Comedy.
08. Legion Of Aliens.
09. Loving The Alien.
10. The Gem Of Love.
11. The Secret of DNA (Part 1).
12. Purple Orb.
13. The Secret of DNA (Part 2).
15. Black Swans.
Tony Mills of TNT is the stand out vocalist on this album. Also what I love is that it starts amazing and ends up as a revelation. I cannot recommend this album enough. I cannot wait for the next part.
on 8 April 2015
This is a great guilty pleasure. A full on sci-fi cheese metal fest with an anti-religion story complete with singing dinosaur and aliens. What's not to like?
It's one of those albums you listen to again and again with headphones on but you'll not necessarily want to commit to speakers in the presence of anyone who already doubts your musical taste. Don't give them unnecessary amunition.
The musicianship is first rate, great guitars and keyboards. The lyrics are bonkers, at times wince inducing but brilliant at the same time. There are some fantastic moments on this album and half a dozen really great tracks.
Buy it, just buy it. I am really looking forward to the follow up.