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Elf Project: The Great Divide

New York proggers Elf Project return with their latest collection of hard hitting and melodic rock titled The Great Divide. I almost hate to bring up Rush so early in the review, but damn if the trio doesn't channel all those glorious sounds that the Canadians conjured up during the Moving Pictures, Signals, and Grace Under Pressure period. Opening cut "We Pay the Price" busts out of the gate with thunderous bass lines, textured guitar riffs, atmospheric keys, and Carl Schultz' high pitched, melodic vocals. It keeps going on strong from there.

"The Sirens Call" is a remarkable song, again driven by Schultz and his thick bass grooves and vocals, with fantastic guitar riffs from Mike Cappadozy and Dave Wayne's rock solid drum patterns. "Love For Sale" mixes prog with Def Leppard styled arena rock, with some heavier riffs and nice use of keyboards, while "Illusion" again screams '80s Rush, chock ful of catchy hooks and muscular arrangements. In fact, the bands ability to create memorable songs cannot be overlooked, as sometimes progressive rock bands tend to overplay at the expense of the song, but not Elf Project. " Pull Me Under" is a perfect example, as musically it's quite adventurous with some nifty guitar work from Cappadozy, atmospheric keyboards, and more of those lovely Schultz bass lines, but the song contains some catchy melodies and a great chorus. Schultz' slippery bass grooves provide the intro to the exceptional "No More Monkey Business", a short instrumental that lets the band strut their stuff musically, complete with some nimble stick work from Wayne and layer upon layer of complex guitar riffs and patterns courtesy of Cappadozy.

The band approaches prog metal on the heavy yet melodic "Reach Out", which features some great vocals from Schultz. "Heaven Above" continues on with the heaviness, and textured riffs and haunting keys permeate the moody "What I Believe". The album closes with the poppy "Any Other Day" , complete with shimmering vocal harmonies, thick bass lines, and soaring slide guitar.

The Great Divide is infectious from the start, one of those modern prog albums that just has so many feel good moments, upbeat arrangements, catchy hooks, and crisp instrumentation. It comes highly recommended, as once again the folks at 10T crank out another winner!

Track Listing
1. We Pay the Price
2. The Sirens Call
3. Love For Sale
4. Illusion
5. Pull Me Under
6. No More Monkey Business
7. Reach Out
8. Heaven Above
9. What I Believe
10. Any Other Day

Added: August 26th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ 10T Records
Hits: 3704
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Elf Project: The Great Divide
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-08-26 07:34:28
My Score:

Elf Project's The Great Divide is certainly a refreshing take on both progressive rock and hooky pop songwriting, although the latter serves more to embellish the former than it does stand out on its own, I can definitely hear the Rush influence, too, (although I prefer vocalist Carl Schultz over Geddy Lee). What's most interesting to me is how these New Yorkers seem to capture the vibrant quirkiness of 1990s Brit pop acts like Blur and Oasis.

Opener "We Pay the Price" is catchy and nuanced with strong chord progressions and proggy keyboard timbres, while tracks like "Love for Sale" and "Illusion" increase the complexity a bit while still remaining completely accessible. Finally, the album's sole instrumental, "No More Monkey Business," is a dazzling mixture of Nektar atmosphere and Crack the Sky intensity.

The Great Divide is enjoyable more for its sonic landscapes than its memorable melodies, but overall, Elf Project still deserves some credit. They're certainly not creating something substantial here, but it's a pleasant and relaxing listen nonetheless. If they worked harder on giving their material some staying power, their next album would be very strong indeed.

Elf Project: The Great Divide
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-08-18 09:38:02
My Score:

You know how sometimes you put a CD in the player for the first time and slowly but surely are gently reminded of other acts, some which become clear after a few listens, some over a period of months? Well, you'll have none of those experiences with The Great Divide by Elf Project, oh no. This sounds like Rush. Right from the off, no pretence, no apologies, Elf Project sounds like Rush from Moving Pictures to Roll The Bones. In fact the excellent (if you like Rush) opener "We Pay The Price" goes as far as to borrow so much of the lyric from the Rush track "Bravado" that I initially began to wonder if it wasn't an elaborate reworking of the Canuck trio's Roll The Bones classic. Even with the thumping drum sound, Geddy Lee like voice, pumping keyboards and singing guitar lines, it is actually an original recording of an "original" song, but - and here's the thing - there's also no denying that it's pretty damn excellent.

Things change little from there, with the approach happy to remain hugely led by Messer's Lee, Lifeson and Peart. Whether it is the nasally vocals, the crisp, busy drumming, the bright guitar attack, or the ever present keyboards - or indeed how all of these aspects play off each other, there's no denying that the end results sound familiar. For some I've no doubt too familiar. "The Siren's Call" hammers home with a throbbing bass, while it is the layered vocals and atmospheric washes of keyboards that make "Love For Sale" rather effective. However, if truth be told, at no point do you stop wondering what this trio (come on, you'd worked out they were a trio as well hadn't you?) would sound like if they tried their hand at something ever so slightly more unique.

Plenty of other acts have used one band as a major influence and gone on to have a long and fruitful career and in truth I see no reason why Elf Project should be any different. Rush themselves seem to have moved on from this hyper clinical, keyboard heavy sound and Elf Project deliver their amazingly similar material with great skill. Whether they turn out to be to your taste or not will depend entirely on whether you like middle period Rush - and are happy to hear another band very convincingly reinterpret that sound.

Elf Project: The Great Divide
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-06-30 14:20:53
My Score:

This really does sound like a good sample of the best of 1980s era Rush, without the power and magnificence of Geddy's slicing vocals, or Peart's cynical lyrics and massive drums. Great Rush cover band, but not enough individual sound to power them beyond that limited frame. The vocalist does sound similar to Lee, but cannot provide that sharp cynical cut that Lee produces on every lyric.

The keyboards are very good and remind me of how prominent they used to be in Rush's music. After listening to "Clockwork Angels" several times now this album definitely makes me reminiscent about how good those keys used to sound from "Subdivisions" and "Grace Under Pressure".

Seems like Rush have permanently left behind their keyboard past, so maybe this band will take their place with time and a chance at perfecting their sound.

Very good start, but only time and practice will make this band better.

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