|Jason Tipton: DeEvolution|
As can be assumed, the main similarity is in the riffing. Jasun Tipton's immediately recognizable style is fully intact here. Heavy and pulverizing, almost all of the tunes carry his unmistakable rhythm work, deftly complemented by Troy Tipton's deep, grave bass tone. However, overall, the guitar work is less intricate than on Zero Hour material, especially their last two albums. Tipton also branches out, hence the need for a side project. He utilizes beautiful blues-tinged guitar phrasings, best audible on the short instrumental, "Twilight." This is not something he would have experimented with in a Zero Hour context. His Gilmour-like touch and wonderful tone is the underlying force to the otherwise melodic and heavy songs. Tipton plays a lot of keys on the songs to achieve deeper atmospheres, underpinning Erik Rosvold's soul-melting vocalizations. Actually "Shallow World" is defined by an entirely synth-driven aesthetic.
Erik Rosvold is by far the most underrated vocalist in prog, or even metal. It is a dream come true to hear him sing after all these years. The last album he sang on was Zero Hour's quintessential masterpiece, The Towers of Avarice. Think of the song "Reflections," in which he delivers one of the most moving vocal performances ever atop acoustic guitars and synth inflections. Amidst the heavy and super technical material, that song stands out easily. On DeEvolution, Rosvold sings in this style on many songs, most notably the aforementioned "Shallow World" and "Divided Day." The latter belies its true charm with its searing opening riff -- it is so heavy and relentless that one has to hear it in full to see the whole picture. Tipton breaks it down at key points, allowing Rosvold to shine through with a powerful 'chorus' that is arguably the catchiest thing he has ever sung.
The album closer "A Song of Unrest" is also a personal favourite. It blends together all the Zero Hour elements with soft passages, amazing drumming (check out the fills in the finale), and some of the best singing ever. Fans have never heard Rosvold sing like this -- his vocals soar on eagle's wings, particularly during the "Fly, Fly, Fly" section of the song. His emotional intensity is indeed goosebump inducing and Tipton's run-out sweeps, where he pays homage to the great Jason Becker, make this one of his greatest songs. This album is actually almost entirely written by Jasun Tipton (with lyrics provided by Erik Rosvold), so kudos to him for putting this band together.
Dino Alden's production is stellar as always. On this album, the sound is warmer, compared to the more angular material of Zero Hour, and the mix is awesome. The synth tones are prominent and vocals are given a more central role. The riffs come through during the heavy parts, which is usually the intro or outro, but take a back seat to allow the conceptual lyrics to reach the listener more effectively.
Whether DeEvolution surpasses the Rosvold-era Zero Hour albums remains to be seen. Personally, to me, albums like Metamorphosis, The Towers of Avarice, and Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond (with Chris Salinas) are genre masterpieces, but to many who had a hard time getting into later-day Zero Hour, DeEvolution is the album they have been waiting for.
|Jason Tipton: ReEvolution|
ReEvolution is the second part of a dystopian trilogy begun with 2011's DeEvolution. The central character, a shaman, is sent out to gather more slaves. He comes across a tribe and senses a light within them that triggers a distant memory of his past. He realizes this is the original tribe he was taken from. He takes them back to the city and encounters what was done to the population and sets them free.
The album is a seamless mix of technicality and heaviness combined with atmospherics and melody