Not to be confused with Microsoft's gaming development platform is XNA, a new melodic progressive rock powerhouse. The band was invented by vocalist David Hussey (Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet) and keyboardist Adam Malin, a composer of many rock operas and co-founder of the company who created the first Star Trek convention. (If this is actually true, then I attended two in New York City in the late Seventies.) The band is rounded out by some impressive players, which you can check out on their website, including the ubiquitous Billy Sherwood providing bass, additional guitars, and producing.
Okay. So you have one founding member who sings for a Genesis tribute band, and another with an obvious background and interest in sci-fi stuff. What would you expect from their debut album When We Changed You? Think classic prog rock, like seventies-ish, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, meets a sci-fi fantasy tale, and you would be right. The story is largely incongruent. Something to do with visitors, likely aliens or some god-like aliens, visiting a young earth a hundred thousand years ago and, believing humanity to have some promise, transformed them somehow (it's not clear).
Now these visitors have returned to see our progress, evolution if you will, and they're, well, basically pretty pissed at us. It seems we did not aspire to a creation of peace, love, and Bobby Sherman. Extermination is imminent. This concept is developed in essentially two tracks, When We Changed You and At Childhood's End. It's not clear how it all ends. I'm thinking, since we didn't evolve to their expectations, and we're still the selfish people bent on war, death, and destruction as we prey upon one another, we should shove a large nuclear warhead up their collective asses and blow them into eternity.
In between these aforementioned songs, XNA gives us a history lesson with four songs about persons and events in human, mostly white European, history. Banner of the Whyte Boar has something to do with King Richard III; The Flying Dutchman with the ship of the same name and Anto Von Dyke; The Vale of Avalon, and I'm guessing here, from the Arthurian legends; and, Annapurna, which references Rudyard Kipling and that section of the Himalayas or possibly the town in Nepal. None of the songs seem to have any connection to the concept of the album. Or I'm simply missing it.
Alrighty then, enough of the (possibly shallow) critique of When We Changed You. Regardless of whether these are conceptual inconsistencies or not, the music is really terrific, even if Billy Sherwood is involved (oops, there I go again). XNA creates and plays really great classic, melodic, progressive rock. Those not familiar or steeped in this tradition, will find When We Changed You bothersome as it's not harsh and heavy like modern music, but rather melodic and symphonic, with pleasant intrigue and flair. In other words, the best of what classic melodic progressive rock should offer. Quite recommended.
With When We Changed You, XNA offers quite impressive and entertaining melodic progressive rock: think Yes or Genesis meet sci-fi fantasy. 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 ]