One of the few albums where female vocals really work.
*Note* Written for its progressiveness more than its metal-ness. District 97 is a relatively new American prog band who has released a studio album and now their first live album, their entire set list from the CalProg festival. On the album, they play three of the five tracks on the album, as well as a cover and quite a few new tracks. They cover UK's Presto Vivace and Genesis' Back in NYC in a great little medley. They also play the mammoth 27 minute long Mindscan off of the album in its entirety. This is a great album, with some fantastic tracks played along the way.
I Can't Take You With Me is a great Crossover track. These Crossover songs are the kind of songs where the pop influence really sounds legitimately good alongside the prog influence. Some creative songwriting is really seen in this track, with great polyrhythmic moments, superior melodies, and great harmonization between the guitar and the vocals. The instrumental section has some obvious Liquid Tension Experiment, Genesis, and Yes influences in the way it is structured.
Termites is one of the "hits" off the new album, and it still is a crushingly great song on this album too. Some really creative synchronization between the vocals and instruments occurs on this song, something you don't always see on other songs. The songwriting again has its influences in the right places, really mixing the prog metal influence with the prog rock influence really nicely. It has the perfect amount of heavy, as well as the perfect amount of symphonics. However, the guitar effects used on this song are a little cheesy and remind me of the midi settings found on a keyboard.
Who Cares? is a slower and more Flower Kings-esque song. More hesitant and delicate, the instrumentation lacks a little bit. The vocals are a little more compassionate and a little less "vocal." Overall, the song is alright, but doesn't match up to the greatness of it's predecessors.
The Back and Forth is by far my favorite song on the album. Right from the beginning, a really cool tapping synchronization between the guitar and bass reminds me of Steve Hackett's tapping in Genesis. Some really great crossovers between prog metal and prog rock. Fantastic songwriting and powerful vocals really makes this track a quintessential crossover track.
Presto Vivace/Back in NYC is a fantastic medley between UK and Genesis, which are two obvious influences of the band. Leslie Hunt's vocals are actually a spectacular representation of Gabriel's powerful voice. Sadly, in most prog bands who have female singers, the singers can't reach the depth needed to match up with the music, but she really can rip! What a great singer!
Mindscan is the massive psychedelic track lasting 27 minutes, with trippy instrumental sections and fantastic body sections. The songwriting can seem a bit cheesy at times, but the majority of the song is a fantastic ride.
Open Your Eyes is, I'm guessing, an original song and not some far out arrangement of the Yes song. However, it's an alright song, although it does drag a little bit.
ALBUM OVERALL: This is a great live album by a great band. The songwriting is top notch, with creative bits with a synthesis of a great many influences ranging from Liquid Tension Experiment to UK. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed the studio album, for the recording is very high quality and the new tracks are spectacular. 4 stars.