I quote my earliest, “first impressions”, upon receiving this awesome release,
". . . Oh baby, this rocks heavy like U.K.meets Prong! Derek Sherinian on keys, Virgil Donati on skins, Tony MacAlpine on axe and Tom Kennedy guests on bass. Highly recommended, heavy fusionoid rock with a King's X, low-end punch and an ELP "Barbarian"/"Knife Edge" noir-rock, fear/dread/threat groove. This stuff be PHAT!! Syncopated, thumpin', pumpin', and crunchin'. MacAlpine devastates all time-space continuums with his solos. Sherinian transports you into caverns of Pluto and buries your head in ice. Dorati pummels your aorta and cerebrum into submission whilst Tom Kennedy's bass lines would make Tony Levin or John Wetton drool.Jens Johansson has met his match with Derek Sherinian! If you dug Mastermind's EXCELSIOR! or just grabbed their new live PROG, FUSION, METAL, LEATHER and SWEAT, (conveniently named after a quote from my write-up of their NEARfest 1999 gig where the CD was recorded), you will REALLY dig the heavy fusion-rock of Planet X!! Dig it!! BUY THIS CD!! KILLER!! KILLER!! Etc, etc. . . .”
Months later, after sometimes playing this CD 10 – 15 times a week, I have yet to tire of itshuge, dense, gut-punch
. There are so many excellent prog metal, metal fusion, prog rock, rocky jazz fusionoid, and just plain butt-kicking rock things happening here. Sherinian and crew have broken the record for most riffs, solos, intricate unison lines, notes per minute, bars per song, and cool songs per CD. These guys are smokin’!
The music is intelligent, hard-hitting, in-your-face, and massive. There’s little room to breathe, little time to get bored, and believe me – turn down your bass response on your CD player. I killed two car speaker woofers on this baby. I didn’t care because the total devastation of my brain and my speakers was a fair price to experience this amazing onslaught of sound.
Some folks have whined in newsgroups as to Donati overdoing it on his endless double bass drum pummelings. I say, “Ah shaddap, and see if you can do that work of ceaseless power! He’s amazing!” Man, just listen to all the effects and runs Sherinian is pulling out of his keyboard array. It is maddening! Kennedy is superb on bass, everywhere a threat of near perfection. Just listen to that great jazz solo breakdown on “Warfinger”. MacAlpine plays exactly the way each song’s moment needs. His interpretation of this fusion rock is powerfully poised. No flash, no sham, no weakness – just raw superior power and finesse! Good grief – he even does Holdsworthian riffs that actually rock your socks off! Must I go on? Of course.
My favorite tracks: “Europa”, “Clonus”, “Bitch”, (IMHO: offensive song name guys, really) , “Chocalate” and “2116” My least favorite moment: The theatrically pompous and overly bombastic monologue/scene-setting intro on “King of the Universe” totally demolished the power and glory “flow” of the disc. It was 100% cheesy and its flaccidly flawed attempt to generate some sci-fi fantasy aura to the song fell flat on its face. I kept muttering to myself, “Oh please, get on with it. This guy’s pseudo-Shakespeare doth wound me so deeply.”
Other than that small soliloquy snafu to be forgiven quickly, I highly regard and recommend this release as one of the best heavy progressive rock works of 2000. You weenies complaining about Donati’s drums or MacAlpine’s riffs need to try to do what they accomplish yourself. No way.