It's always great to hear new, old-school styled progressive rock. Syzygy, formerly known as Witsend, who last released Cosmos and Chaos back in 1993, have returned with a new name and a fiery new album. Combining elements of Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Gentle Giant, ELP, and Deep Purple, The Allegory of Light is a churning, powerful amalgam of complex yet melodic music that surely will bring a smile to any prog-rock fan face.
The opening title suite begins with the raging "M.O.T.H.", a bristling inferno containing awesome keyboard chops and textures from Sam Giunta, and thick power chords from guitarist Carl Baldassarre. At just over eleven minutes this is the epic section of the suite, and at times reminded me of the more aggressive parts of Tull's Thick as a Brick. "Beggar's Tale" is a Genesis influenced little segue featuring Giunta's acoustic guitars and lyrics dealing with the loneliness of the elderly. The band then rampages back into aggressive mode for the final part called "Distant Light", led by the nimble drum work of Paul Mihacevich and the acrobatic guitar solos of Giunta.
The "Age of Mankind" is the next suite, and is made up of the Gentle Giant-meets-ELP instrumental called "Zinjanthropus", which is twelve minutes of classic complex prog, and the prog-metal tinged workout of "Industryopolis." The former has all sorts of neat interplay between Giunta and Baldassarre, and the latter has a chilling mid-section that harkens back to vintage Red-era King Crimson, with ominous keys and bone crunching guitar riffs. This is simply awesome instrumental prog-rock folks.
"Forbidden is the next piece, a real emotional, somber tune with acoustic guitars and Baldassarre's yearning vocals. The lyrics here once again deal with loneliness, and the band manages to really hit home with the feeling of despair and isolation after hearing the song. The rocking instrumental "Lightspeed" is up next, which has a Steve Morse-meets-Rush feel, and is littered with Giunta's power chords and intricate lead work. The closing epic "The Journey of Myrrdin" is the crowning achievement, powerful, symphonic, and dramatic. Mellotron mixes with heavy guitars, gymnastic drum work provides the backdrop for furious synthesizer explorations, and it all works. At just over 17-minutes, this is a wild ride that combines complexity with memorable arrangements, and is all-instrumental. A perfect end to an extraordinary CD.
The band also provided us with a cassette copy of the original Witsend album Cosmos and Chaos, which is currently just being reprinted again in CD format. The music there follows a similar path, although the production on The Allegory of Light is much better. It is still a great example of complex symphonic rock, and those wishing to seek out the new release should look into acquiring a copy of the Witsend CD as well. Highly recommended!