Sound Struggle – Rise

Sound Struggle - Rise

Sound Struggle come back just one year after their eponym record with a new release shortly entitled “Rise”. And this swinging jazz, groovy prog fellows did an outstanding job with it. The fact that the members of the band started their activity on the benches of Berklee College of Music (the same one that created the musical geniuses that nowadays are Petrucci, Scofield, Vai, Myung, Mayer or Al Di Meola) and a mere sneak peek at the amount of instrumentals they are trying to bring up front should let you know what to expect. But don’t count on that because there will be plenty of surprises along the way.

The sax that blew us away on TesseracT’s “Altered State” will make the listener draw its dreams in colorful jazz fusion notes all over again. And if TesseracT left you wanting for more, well, this record will definitely bring you some sort of easiness.

As the title of the opening track, “Strongth”, subtly suggests, there’s a powerful intro where the big surprise is that the keyboards keep the pace with the extreme vocals and drumming just beautifully. And then, there it is: the mellow and enticing saxophone followed by another fast-paced keyboard solo. This is to show us that these guys aren’t playing around. It is quite unusual to hear this tech death vocals combined with an otherwise prog-jazz instrumental. And if that doesn’t throw you off, then the ending keyboard solo perfectly followed by a guitar one will definitely do the trick.

The same pattern of a mighty intro followed by extraordinary hidden instrumental solos of all kind is what defines most of the songs on the record (“The Disease”, “Tempest” and “Suspended”). You can actually feel as if it’s a treasure hunt after all those unforgettable passages that define the intricacy of this waltz between the brutal and the smooth, metal and jazz.

Although those bridges between heavy and soft may appear a bit sudden, it does, against all odds, work for the band. And the master-skills of the instrumentalists will definitely wow you, as they could easily keep up with any of the artists mentioned previously but they also have that touch of originality and fresh air that attracted everyone to bands such as Animals as Leaders. The unexpected becomes the dream.

“Perpetual Motion” is one of the instrumental pieces off the record and I must admit that I enjoyed the pause from the heaviness of the vocals. It’s a very enjoyable breather and the flow of the delicate guitars and keyboards that actually reminds me of some of Abasi’s previous work gets you all set for what’s to follow.

Keep in mind that this is a DIY record, so just imagine what could come out from a recording studio.

“Rotating Door”, the longest track on the album alongside “Suspended”, displays more of the clean vocals and extremely surprising here I find the keyboards that are actually accentuating the heaviness of the again harsh vocals rather that contrasting with them as it’s usually the case. The two guitars towards the end of the piece complement each other as if there was only one but somehow expanded to three.

“Rise”, probably my favorite track, goes right off with a so missed sax solo for the past minutes and continues as perfectly as one can imagine with keyboard delightful sounds that range from 80’s prog to modern jazz and classical music. Visualizing how this would sound as a jazz record is quite easy, except for the drum interludes that remind you the band’s actual roots.

The most “djenty” song off the album, “Close Your Eyes”, stands on its own by transitioning to an undreamed of unusual ballad, that although it features some harsh vocals as well, its lyrics and the arrhythmic patterns allow me to categorize it as such.

After some acoustic features on “Suspended”, here comes the last instrumental breather on “Rise”, “Pretzel”, that despite its deceitful title, puts in its center piece the sax again, to our most grand delight. Although I’m intrigued by the title of the last song, “649”, it does go back into the metal area that on the second part of the record was sort of lost to the ear.

The thing with this kind of bands is that listening their records for a couple of hours can become tiresome but “Rise” is actually an airy album that allows the listener to enjoy each track to the fullest, in its own individuality.

“Rise” can be summarized as the perfect common ground between different prog eras, musical theory and jazz.

Favorite tracks: “Rise”, “Close Your Eyes”

Track list:

1. Strongth
2. The Disease
3. Perpetual Motion
4. Rotating Door
5. Rise
6. Tempest
7. Close Your Eyes
8. Suspended
9. Pretzel
10. 649


* Cameron Rasmussen – guitar/vocals
* Adam Rafowitz – guitar
* Joey Izzo – keys
* Michael Bozdeck – tenor sax/EWI
* Joe Calderone – bass
* Matthieu Danesin – drums



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