Unified Past, from New York, likes to call themselves 'the best kept progressive rock secret in the United States.' They might be right. Formed in 1984 by two high school kids, the band has released six albums since 1984, with Spots being their latest. This is one talented and creative trio of musicians: guitarist and vocalist Stephen Speelman, drummer Victor Tassone, and bass player Dave Mickelson
Unified Past's approach is straight forward: classic melodic progressive rock with touches of prog metal. Think Rush meets Dream Theater, and these two bands, among many others, have influenced the founding members Speelman and Tassone, significantly. Without dismissing the work of Mickelson, whether his bass work or composition contributions, much of this album features the guitars and drums.
Spots delivers 11 songs, six of which are instrumentals, all of which have a one word title, excepting the appropriately titled closing piece, The Final. Curiously, or not, especially for the lyric songs, the titles offer no real clue of what to expect within. But what you get is some terrific melodic progressive rock. With a song like Hot, Unified Past can deliver some straight melodic rock with a quick groove and twisted with prog nuances (where Speelman appears to briefly steal some licks from Mississippi John Hurt's Shortin' Bread). Then the band can go after straight prog rock with all the expansiveness, turns, and crafty musicianship you would expect on songs like Tough, Big, and The Final.
Speelman's guitar lines will keep both the aspiring and seasoned player drooling, the simple listener, like myself, entertained and amazed. Tassone easily performs with the skills of his influences and peers like Peart, White, Appice, and Bonham; he's a drummer's drummer. Mickelson's bass gives every song steadiness and depth. After several spins, I think I preferred the instrumental songs more than those with lyrics. It's not because Speelman can't write interesting lyrics or sing well. He can. It's just that the music was more compelling. But don't take this as a negative or a flaw as all the songs are pleasure to listen to. Simply, Unified Past's Spots offers what's best about melodic progressive rock: musical entertainment and intrigue delivered by exceptionally talented musicians. Easily recommended.
Unified Past's Spots offers what's best about melodic progressive rock: musical entertainment and intrigue delivered by exceptionally talented musicians. Easily recommended.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]