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Acid Rain - "The Descending Line" (CD)

Acid Rain - "The Descending Line" CD cover image

"The Descending Line" track listing:

Chapter I: Overcast by Life
01. Doors of the Mind (Instrumental)
02. Chasing Dreams
03. Rough Spirit

Chapter II: The Unsent Letters
04. Beyond Reality (Instrumental)
05. Time To Plant Destruction
06. Never-Ending Nightmare

Chapter III: Solitud Flame
07. Hold My Tears (Instrumental)
08. The Light Inside You

Chapter IV: Epilogue
09. Memory Waves (Instrumental)
10. The Descending Line

Reviewed by on November 24, 2010

"This is a frightfully good prog album with quite a bit of dynamic."

Sometimes, it’s not all about originality. Though the metal universe is big, it’s not uncommon for one band to sound a bit like another. It’s not even uncommon for a band to sound very like another. When that band sounds like another widely-praised and recognized band, it’s hardly an insult to make the comparison. Upon hearing Acid Rain, the undeniable comparison will be made to Dream Theater, and I mean that in the best way, as a high compliment.

A self-proclaimed progressive rock/metal band wearing a wide variety of influences on its sleeves, Argentina’s Acid Rain put out “The Descending Line” in 2009. The album hints at what a combination of Dream Theater’s early album, “Images and Words,” and the later album, “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence,” would sound like. The winding instrumental passages are there, the keyboard parts range from expertly-played clean lines to dramatic synth passages, and the guitar parts are a combination of controlled and frenetic. Mariano Revilla’s guitar playing even sounds influenced by John Petrucci’s style. None of these comparisons are meant badly, because they mean that the band is technically proficient, the rhythm section is tight, and the music is adventurous and fluid.

The band starts Chapter I of the album off with an instrumental overture of sorts. “Doors of the Mind” leads into “Chasing Dreams” and brings with it an upbeat feeling as bright guitar parts and piano lines by pianist Andres Blanco drive the song forward from section to section. The vocals of Sebastian Fernandez, in his higher tenor range, are forcefully delivered and have a bit of refreshing grit to them. Martin Magliano’s drumming sounds influenced by Mike Portnoy, and has more than enough fire and technical competency behind it to justify that comparison. “Rough Spirit” gives Fernandez a nice vocal spotlight and sees bassist Ezequiel Gimenez getting a good thirty-second fretless bass solo. The array of background vocals on this song is another high point.

Moving into Chapter II of the concept, “Beyond Reality” begins with a dual synthesizer/guitar lead, with piano flourishes following as the drums heat up and move the song into solo sections. Revilla and Blanco trade fast solos on keyboard and guitar before involving the whole band in an instrumental passage. “Time to Plant Destruction” and “Never-Ending Nightmare” are where the meat of the album lies. “Hold My Tears” and “The Light Inside You” bring in more themes in Chapter III. It’s a bit hard to believe that the band can come up with so many melodies without going stale, but the album keeps fresh until the end. There are several successive “climax” sections leading up to the end in Chapter IV with “Memory Waves” and “The Descending Line.” The piano/Spanish guitar sections in “Memory Waves” make for a very welcome ethnic addition to the sound. The final song re-hashes some themes established earlier and makes for an impressive finish, with a Brian May-inspired array of guitars in several places.

The careful and thoughtful arrangement of all the music is the most impressive part of the album. Like a symphony, Acid Rain’s “The Descending Line” covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and the technical bits leave the listener dazzled, thinking, “What the hell did they just play?” Not to mention, the production on the album is refreshingly natural and not over-produced. This is a frightfully good prog album with quite a bit of dynamic.

Highs: Chapter II’s songs, the careful arrangement of the music, the guitar/synth solos.

Lows: The songs cover so much ground that there aren’t a lot of truly memorable parts.

Bottom line: A multi-faceted debut prog album from a band that gives prog metal greats a run for their money.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)