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Variant: Beyond Jargon

The cover of the new Variant CD suggests that what they have to offer inside is Beyond Jargon. As I found out rather quickly, it lives up to its title. Jargon, defined as vocabulary of a group, is something every group has, in a musical reference. A sound or way of communicating is the best frame of reference concerning the new Variant CD.

There was a reason I was instantly attracted to this music, the lead singer Jerry Wengert has a similar style and tone to Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash. The music itself has some similarities as well with sound and subject matter. A good case in point would be "March To War" and "Deeds." Some deeply emotional subjects close to many people in war torn countries gets some good coverage in the tracks.

Musically this band is very strong, vividly pounding home their lyrics with a mixture of rock, progressive, and metal. Since I enjoy listening to all three styles of music this was a lot fun to absorb. Upon my second listen, I took a closer look at the lyrics and heard many words that held meaning and importance to me. I found myself agreeing with the band's point of view. The beginning of "Deeds" goes like this…


The deeds of mankind are chilling
The needs of so many, so few
Mankind can't seem to be willing
To look through the other man's views

It gives you a few things to think about and makes you step back and look at the world at large and gaze into the mirror and ask yourself if you are living right. With this, I am sure the band feels they are able to ignite interest in their music and create some kind of an impact if people can glean this kind of information from one of their songs. This was one of those 'play it again it will grow on you CDs' and the reason you should check it out for all of the above reasons.


Track Listing
1. March To War (6:49)
2. Today I Tried (4:21)
3. None So Blind (7:10)
4. Deeds (6:10)
5. Carrin' Carrion (10:20)
6. Going (6:58)
7. Regardless (9:24)
8. Reflections (1:17)
9. When the Lights On (4:17)

Added: May 27th 2007
Reviewer: Keith Hannaleck
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1871
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Variant: Beyond Jargon
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-27 08:29:11
My Score:

Beyond Jargon is the debut album of Variant, an American progressive rock and metal band, which is keen on blending ever-shifting material, utilising atmospheric undercurrents without excessive keyboards or synths. Being a concept album that carries a storyline to it, some of the vocal parts are quite theatrical, evoking a similar vibe heard on some mid-90's Savatage albums, but musically and from a production standpoint, the two bands are completely different.

Variant's music has more of a spontaneity to it, evoking images of tons of improvised soundscapes put on tape right away, but at the same time, the compositions have a very carefully calculated feel to them. Moving from the bass-driven, King Crimson-meets-King's X stylings of "Going", they opt for Eastern sounds, utilising sitar-like instruments and cool fretless bass arpeggios on the ten-minute piece "Carrin' Carrion", characterized by burning guitar solos: Eric Connolly and Jerry Wengert are a powerful guitar duo -- in a way reminiscent of Wishbone Ash -- whose fuzzed-out tone experimentations and unexptected stop-start touches push the compositions into avant-garde-ish territories.

The fusiony "March to War" boasts a Rush-like rhythm structure atop bluesy guitars and epic, almost doom-inflected rhythm slams. Vocals vary from melodic to laidback to spoken, and while it would be wrong to claim Wengert possesses the most original style, it is hard to imagine any of these songs sung by someone else. The more acoustic-based "Today I Tried", for instance, features a gripping vocal melody, which work perfectly in his weirdly droning monotone. Filled with lots of blocks, chimes and cymbalisation, "None So Blind" and "Deeds" are the band's foray into folk-ridden melodies instilled into jam-like sessions. Atonal guitar lines are woven into the former while the latter stands out for its thought-provoking, somewhat depressing lyrics. That said, the dark texture is strangely contrasted by the sweetness of Jethro Tull-esque melodies.

Beyond Jargon is a good debut for Variant. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Variant: Beyond Jargon
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-07 09:38:41
My Score:

Beyond Jargon is the debut album from Texas progressive rock band Variant. With plenty of modern sounds as well as some serious nods to 70's heavy rock, Variant are a breath of fresh air in the current prog scene. These guys rely on hard and heavy guitar riffs, at times bordering on the technical side of things, but always the groove and crunch factor seems to be the mainstay. While references to such bands as Rush, Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash, Mountain, and Tiles, can be heard, Variant sound very different from what you normally hear coming out of the scene these days. "March to War" is a pretty heavy piece with plenty of churning guitar passages, yet "Today I Tried" moves into atmospheric and melodic territory, with an almost dreamy King Crimson meets Wishbone Ash feel to it, showing the versatility of the band.

Shades of early Jethro Tull minus the flute can be heard on the dark "None So Blind", which sees guitarists Erik Connolly and Jerry Wengert weaving all sorts of intricate lines around each other. I'm again reminded of Wishbone Ash on "Deeds", thanks in part to the intricate dual guitar work, melodic lead bass, and Wengert's vocals, who sounds a tad like the great Andy Powell. If you like wah-wah guitars, check out the dual Robin Trower riffery going on here! Other hot tracks include the metal edged thunder of "Carrin' Carrion", and the psychedelic-meets-metal journey "Regardless".

Overall, Beyond Jargon flows really well, which is important seeing as it is a concept piece. At times dark, and mostly serious, the music here is pretty intense, so don't expect some happy neo-progressive sounds. Variant have embraced the sounds of yesteryear quite nicely here and added in their own style. Well done!



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