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Not Otherwise Specified: Judgment

As a rule I'm not a fan of "one-man-bands", often finding these sorts of projects to be self indulgent and lacking focus, especially when the song-writer/performer also handles the production duties as well. Rules however are made to be broken and with the debut album Judgment from Not Otherwise Specified, Craig Kerley has done just that.

Kerley himself lists his influences as Dream Theater, Genesis, Spock's Beard and Pink Floyd and while those comparisons do indeed raise their heads on occasion during Judgment, I'd add to that list a stronger flavour of Syzygy and the Neo-Prog of say Arena. In the end, the music on this album comes across as a real mixture of 70's Prog with its later 80's - up to the present day cousin Neo, resulting in an album that immediately sounds familiar, without ever coming across as parody, or homage. Instead Judgment is vibrant and uplifting, with an excellent musical performance from Kerley and a particularly effective gritty vocal, which is slightly more Metal than it is Prog.

Anthemic more than it is introspective, Judgment is an album which soars and swoops from intricate melodic passage to melodic intricate passage via some crunchy riffs, dextrous keyboards and captivating percussion work. If you like your Prog bright and energetic, then you will not be disappointed in the slightest and I'd have no hesitation in recommending this album to fans of everyone from Syzygy to Galahad, or Pink Floyd to It Bites. Although I'm sure the Dream Theater or Vanden Plas faithful will also find much to be drawn in and impressed by as well. Actually it is the impressive way in which NOS seamlessly weld the obviously Neo-Prog like keyboard solos to an altogether more 70's mellotron backing and the decidedly modern vocal approach to the sound-scape guitar sections, which allow Judgment to straddle to such great effect, two sides of Prog, which while closely related, seldom mix. For confirmation of this surround yourself in the spellbinding marriage of guitars and keys on "Pulse", or the magnificently poised, yet proudly pompous "Morning", which also somehow manages to add an early Steve Rothery guitar vibe to a more latter day Marillion slow building journey in a way that Marillion themselves never really have. I could go on and mention the latter day Pallas feel of "Judgment", the mighty Vanden Plas rifferama of "Perfect", or the magnificently majestic and atmospheric "Rise To Meet You" and explain just how evocative and spirit raising they are, however in truth there isn't a dud in sight anywhere on this album.

Give Judgment a little time to fully weave its spell and it will reward you with its stunning array of wonderfully well conceived ideas, which have been magnificently executed. Put simply this is one of the best Prog albums released this year.

Track Listing
1. Intro
2. Serenity
3. Another Way
4. Pulse
5. The World Today
6. Morning
7. Judgment
8. Perfect
9. Rise To Meet You

Added: October 7th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Not Otherwise Specified BandCamp
Hits: 3024
Language: english

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