Could do better
So, Hourglass! Not content with competing in the highly competitive ‘Prog Rock’ genre with such luminaries as Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and Opeth etc., Hourglass have tried to out do all competitors with a double cd album weighing in at a whopping two hours and nineteen minutes and only ten songs . I can imagine the post recording discussion, ‘I know guys, lets outdo the soon to be released DT ditty, and probably stunning ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’, with an album, in length terms, which makes the new Dream Theater release seem like a 3:28 pop single. That’ll show ‘em, Berkeley School of Music bastards.’
Its more punishment than pleasure in time terms. Criminals have spent less time in jail than it took me to listen to ‘Oblivious to the Obvious’. But once in the zone, the album speeds along much quicker than you think. Quicker than an MP leaving his constituency after facing the local pitch fork wielding angry mob expenses committee. Now I can only think of one other offering recently that is in the same vein of a band releasing a double cd, and thats Dream Theater’s ‘Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence’. Even though the DT team are Gods to me, I didn’t come over all emotional in hearing disc two of SDOIT.
Its all very promising stuff, from the opening bars of ‘On the Brink’ you know its a progtastic, widdle-fest of a beast of an album being unleashed, complete with symphonic, overblown overtures, complex structures, plenty of time changes, with all band members being as proficient as anyone out there, that also includes Dream Theater, until we get to the vocals of Michael Turner. More suited to thrash than this style of prog metal. He's good, don’t get me wrong, but I get the feeling it could be much better. A weaker version of Geoff Tate. I'm going to concentrate on his positives. Yes he can hold a tune, he can wail quite a bit (but doesn’t have the sustained range), and suits most of the songs, but the quality of the lyrics aren’t great which doesn’t help him.
'Homeward bound' comes over a bit bland and weak, but the song is catchy enough, but doesn’t sound ‘beefy’, more ballady than others on the album, it needs a bit more ‘crunch and bite’. ‘Pawn II’ is definitely in Dream Theater territory, time changes a plenty, for no reason other than to just do it.
The sound is ‘tinny and weaker’ than the competition (and there's a lot of prog competition!), Hourglass need to step back, get in a decent producer, turn the amps to 11, and kick ass.
An album this length (over 2 hours), you struggle to remember which are the best songs as its just too long. Its taken me weeks to try to review OTTO as Ive dreaded putting the time into it. It should be an enjoyable experience and not a dreaded experience. If Hourglass would have concentrated on putting one cd out made up of the stronger stuff (there are some very good songs)- 'Faces', '38th Floor', and the title track (these 3 total over an hour!) it could be one of my albums of the year. Instead its somewhere between average and half decent