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Land of Chocolate: Unikorn on the Cob

Formed from the ashes of the now defunct band Finneus Gauge comes the promising Land of Chocolate, whose debut CD is one part serious butt-kicking progressive rock, and the other just plain fun. Led by keyboard player/lead vocalist Jonn Buzby (former drummer for Finneus Gauge and brother of Echolyn member Chris Buzby), the band is rounded out by guitarist Brian O’Neill, Echolyn drummer Jordan Perlson, and bassist John Jens. Running the gamut from complex, quirky prog-rock, to heavier Dream Theater inspired moments, all the way to out and out weirdness a la Frank Zappa, the band still maintains a solid commercial flavor throughout. It’s this combination that sets this band apart from many of the newer bands arriving on the scene today.

Each song on Unikorn on the Cob takes you on a different musical journey. Take the rousing opener “Musical Findings” for example, which is a powerful and complex statement filled with heavy guitars and nimble drum work, which then segues into the more atmospheric “Waiting for the Go.” Jonn Buzby executes some catchy and melodic vocals on “Double Standard Booth”, a song very reminiscent of the style of Finneus Gauge featuring a jazzy beat accompanied by crunchy yet fluid guitar work from O’Neill. The lyrics here are about something that everyone can relate to, that being the challenges of relationships, whether they are romantic or business, and the search for truth and trust. “Walk Fast” is a somber tune again dealing with problem relationships, but has a fairly mainstream appeal, and would appeal to listeners of bands such as Creed or Staind. Two of the more aggressive tracks, “Upping the Ante” and “We Love You Lots” follow, the former an almost prog-metal candidate in its intensity with heavy guitars and intricate keyboard work, and the latter a driving rocker with a hilarious story of the worlds most annoying person, a person that I am sure everyone knows! “Broken Record” happens to be the bands excellent take on modern angst-ridden ballads, and in a perfect world would be a major single for them. The song is acoustic driven, and features wonderful vocals from Buzby, who tells the tale of a man dealing with the sadness and loneliness after losing his lady. The band then sails through the instrumental title track with reckless abandon, showing flashes of brilliance that will remind one instantly of Echolyn or Gentle Giant. The keyboard tones of Buzby are quite effective, especially his rampaging organ sounds, and are matched perfectly by the slicing solo from guitarist O’Neill. Perlson also shows that regardless of his young age, his skills are quite formidable behind the drum kit. Perhaps hanging out with Echolyn the past few years has been a positive influence? Having bandmate Jens on bass to work with can only help as well, as his playing is rock solid throughout and gymnastic when needed. Anyone remember comedian Howie Mandel’s child character Bobby? The band seemingly has resurrected the little fellow for the bizarre “Making Friends”, which sounds like something off of Zappa’s Joe’s Garage. The CD ends on a high note with “Self Control”, a lengthy prog rocker that hints at the classic sounds of Rush, and features yet more catchy and melodic vocals.

Land of Chocolate certainly have pushed many of the right buttons here and created a successful debut that is strong on melodies and tight musical arrangements. While there are many other bands out there that will bludgeon you to death with endless solos and crazy time changes, this band adds just enough to keep things interesting. The abundant vocal harmonies are just wonderful to hear, whether they are commercial flavored pop melodies or complex Gentle Giant inspired fugues. This ones a winner folks!

Added: March 13th 2024
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Land of Chocolate Website
Hits: 3538
Language: english

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Land of Chocolate: Unikorn on the Cob
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2024-03-13 18:38:03
My Score:

This is the album that welcomed listeners to the Land of Chocolate with a goofy title, an even goofier cover and a sound that ushered in a new era of 21st-century progressive rock. Released way back in 2001 and packed with angular and adventurous arrangements, the album is heavily influenced by Gentle Giant and Echolyn -- drummer Jordan Perlson was in that band, and vocalist/keyboardist John Buzby’s brother, Chris Buzby, still is in Echolyn. But you can also hear how Land of Chocolate did its own influencing of artists, many of whom went on to release records for the InsideOut label. From the beginning, Land of Chocolate revealed a flair for combining prog, pop and rock into a melodic feast.

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