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Ring of Myth: Weeds

Hmmm, this one is a delightful romp thru ten slices of Yes/Gentle Giant sound-alike material. The vocals are very reminiscent of Mr. Anderson, the softer edged guitars a virtual Howe-fest and the bizarre time signatures right out of the toolbox of Giant. Quite a melodious cacophony for a three piece: Danny Flores - Vocals, bass, keyboards and guitar, George Picado - guitar, and Scott Rader - Drums, percussion, keyboards and backup vocals. The origins of the band go all the way back to the early '90's in Southern California where Danny Flores got the ball rolling, looking for progressive musicians with similar interests to his own. Fifteen years and two previously released albums Ring of Myth and Unbound later, brings the band, still intact, to the issue of this, their third project Weeds.

It must be stated that to continue to create and perform this type of music in the conditions existent in today's musical landscape is a certain indicator that these boys love the music first; everything else is gravy. That love is evident in the passion flowing through lengthy epic tunes like "Offering", "Blue Stem" and "Half Wing". Fans of the most progressive sides of Yes, Rush, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Nektar will love this release.

Track Listing
1) Offering
2) Into Phase
3) Plight
4) Drone
5) Blue Stem
6) For a Time
7) Soft Disguise
8) Drowning in Fire
9) Bird's Eye View
10) Half Wing

Added: November 19th 2005
Reviewer: Mike Blackburn
Related Link: Unicorn Records
Hits: 2335
Language: english

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Ring of Myth: Weeds
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-11-19 16:31:32
My Score:

Ring of Myth is a great American progressive rock band which, despite their rather complex and multi-passaged songs, consists of only three members. Danny Flores is unquestionably the man responsible for their direction. Not only did he write most of the album by himself, he also sings, plays bass, keys, and guitar. George Picadeo on guitars has contributed some ideas to the songs as well, while drummer Scott Rader, besides playing percussion and keyboards, does some back-up singing too. He also mixed the songs, so judging from the information in the beautiful CD booklet, one can tell Weeds is a real team effort, and a quite good addition to Canadian prog rock label Unicorn Digital's roster. In many ways comparable to 70's prog bands' earlier works, Weeds seems like a great melting pot of Yes, Genesis, Rush, and Gentle Giant. Danny Flores' vocals evoke Jon Anderson, particularly on "Offering", a track divided into several movements that range from beautiful acoustic guitars to accented bass lines and classic 70's analog synths. Complex guitar harmonies are occasionally heard and they subtly underline a funky bass solo that is then surrounded by more keyboard sounds. On "Into Phase", the band morphs into a very different act, playing a happy melody where Flores does this call-and-response type of vocals. The song is still complex and rife with excellent instrumental breaks where keyboard and guitars lay down a long unison solo, before the keys cut out and George Picado opts for a more bluesy lead solo that is not only a nod to the 60's but dangerously experimental at the same time, considering the deft time signatures in its outro.

One of the best things about Weeds is how eclectic each song on it is. There is not a single track here that could actually represent it completely and give a good idea what you can expect from this album. On the short "Plight", the band plays some jazzy (especially in the way the bass is mixed) instrumental stuff, punctuated with complex guitars and drumming. The vocal harmonies on "Drone" are similar to the stuff on earlier Genesis albums, as the vocals add a very dynamic intensity to the track. The song has a very atmospheric, almost avant garde ending and the wailing guitar solo at the end is truly uplifting. "Blue Stem", at nearly 12 minutes, exhibits plenty of atonal guitar melodies that are still kept within a classic Rush-style blueprint, allowing the band to dive headlong into improvised jams with awesome interplay between drums and bass. Flores' vocals over creepy synths in the middle make for a very eerie atmosphere, but we are taken back to where we started, as Rader's amazing percussion work seamlessly blends with a jazzy instrumental section. Easily the most whimsical song on the album, "Blue Stem" may interest both fans of prog and avant garde music. The echoic, sparse arpeggio notes on "For A Time" are Floydian in a way, while "Soft Disguise" is Ring of Myth's most Rush-like moment. Even Flores sounds like the singer of a Rush tribute band here, and I think some people may not be very impressed with his vocals, but the melodies and guitar riffs are quite spot on. "Drowning in Fire" starts after a long silence and then quickly breaks into a full-on jam where you can hear crescendo cymbals distantly ringing as Flores sings in an almost whispered tone. The last song, except its ending, could be considered another instrumental monster for its fusion-styled guitar riffs and ambient passages that strangely reminded me of Thinking Plague.

Unicorn Digital has released some really amazing stuff this year, including the albums of the instrumental prog fusion band Talamasca, the amazing avant prog rock band NIL, and now Ring of Myth. Needless to say, they have signed a great band that is well worth checking out.

Ring of Myth: Weeds
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-10-02 15:55:18
My Score:

If Yes were an American power trio, that band would no doubt sound something like Ring of Myth. Here we have an outfit inspired by the likes of classic Genesis, Rush, King Crimson and, yes, Yes – prone to loads of lyrics, multi-part epics and whimsical flights of fancy. Lending to Ring of Myth's credibility is that one-time prog powerhouse Magna Carta reportedly pursued the band, and a production deal with one-time Yes member and respected producer Billy Sherwood was in the works. Instead, the band wound up on Quebec's impressive upstart Unicorn Digital label for the release of its third album, Weeds. Vocalist/bassist/keyboardist/guitarist Danny Flores (despite his sometimes shaky voice) sounds as if he could have fronted a Yes or Rush tribute band, while drummer/keyboardist Scott Rader adds layers to Flores' vocals, especially on the highly modulated presentation of "Drone." Elsewhere, guitarist George Picado shows off his chops on the quirky but brief self-penned instrumental "Plight." This is hardcore prog that takes its influences from earlier bands that were somehow able to cross over to the mainstream. Similarly, with a little more finessing and smoothing of the edges (in other words, dropping more pieces like the cacophonic "Blue Stem") – plus decent label support – Ring of Myth has the potential to at least reach beyond the prog faithful…

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