Kurdt Vanderhoof and his prog rock act Presto Ballet are back once again in 2011, following up Invisible Places with the near 40-minute EP Love What You've Done With the Place. With this recent burst of activity, let's hope Kurdt & Co. are ready to take this band to the next level, as so far they've released one killer album after another of melodic, hard driving symphonic progressive rock.
The band is currently made up of Vanderhoof on guitars, vocalist Ronny Munroe, keyboard player Kerry Shacklett, Bobby Ferkovich on bass, and drummer Jeffrey McCormack. "Killing of the Stars" opens things up in grand fashion, a near 10-minute epic packed with powerful riffs, Munroe's soaring pipes, and layers of Hammond & Moog from Shacklett. Fans of ELP, Styx, and Dream Theater will really love this dramatic piece. Waves of gorgeous Mellotron cascade over fabulous Hammond & Moog on "The Clock", another sensational 70's styled number that fully displays the arsenal of Shacklett. The band goes for a more lush sound on "A Distant Heart", reminding of vintage Yes or Genesis, and the quirky "Deep, Dark, Blue" has a certain Gentle Giant flair to it. Fans of heavier, complex prog will love the blistering "Looking Glass", as the furious rhythm section of Ferkovich & McCormack flail away underneath crunchy riffs from Vanderhoof and Shacklett's stabbing keyboards. Munroe really shines on this one too, showing great range and a knack for delivering catchy harmonies. The bonus track is quite cool, a cover of the great Sensational Alex Harvey Band song "The Faith Healer", and this one is a real riff monster that lets Vanderhoof cook on the guitar.
So far, basically everything this band has touched has turned to gold, and Love What You've Done With the Place is no exception. If you love 70's styled prog with tons of vintage keyboards, crunchy riffs, and memorable melodies, you need to get your hands on this one.
1) King of the Stars (9:52)
2) The Clock (7:58)
3) A Distant Heart (5:38)
4) Deep, Dark, Blue (5:22)
5) Looking Glass (4:31)
6) The Faith Healer -Sensational Alex Harvey Band cover version (7:07)