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Strattman: The Lie of the Beholder

Most progressive rock fans probably know Roy Strattman as the guitarist of Little Atlas, the US band who have released a handful of very good albums over the last decade, and a staple of the 10T Records roster. Strattman's first ever solo project, The Lie of the Beholder, sees him team up with drummer extraordinaire Nick D'Virgilio, plus his Little Atlas bandmates, bassist Rik Bigai, and keyboard player Steve Katsikas. All the vocals are handled by Strattman, and in addition to his guitar work he also lays down most of the keyboards as well.

You'd almost think you were listening to some long lost track from a Dream Theater or Pain of Salvation session with kick off song "A Better World"; this is a heavy piece, dark and foreboding, with crushing, metallic riffing, furious drum work from D'Virgilio, and ominous Mellotron samples. Things settle down a bit for the lush, almost pastoral "Caught Inside the Rain", as cascading keyboard & guitar textures support Strattman's yearning vocal, but things once again take a turn for the heavy and dark, as menacing riffs, acrobatic bass, and more of those creepy Mellotron sounds permeate "A Candle in the Sun". Roy's muscular wah-wah drenched lead lines snake in and out of the mix on this groove laden yet heavy track, complete with some very fascinating lyrics to boot. With all the well crafted instrumental bits included on the first three tracks, it's almost fitting that Strattman goes full bore on the brief "Jaded", as prog-fusion styled guitar, bass, and keyboard melodies weave around each other and D'Virgilio rumbling underneath. This segues right into "The Scene of the Crime", another dark, muscular heavy rocker, Strattman's yearning vocal floating over thick riffs and atmospheric keys.

The second half of the CD commences with the quirky yet heavy "Detonation", as pop laden vocal harmonies that wouldn't sound out of a place on a 10CC album collide with Gentle Giant -meets-Dream Theater styled complexity. A very cool tune. "Solace" offers up some dreamy melodies, acoustic guitar, and ethereal keyboards for one of The Lie of the Beholder's more meditative and melodic tracks, a must hear for fans of Genesis' Wind and Wuthering era. Another killer instrumental comes in the form of the raging title track, six minutes of high energy, heavy progressive rock. Haunting keyboard textures hover over crunchy riffs, nimble bass, and complex drumming for a dark yet exciting ride that mixes prog, fusion, and a little metal. The melancholy "Connection Lost" is an emotional pop tune with some prog leanings, as Strattman's melodic vocal soars over Katsikas' gorgeous piano colors, while the lyrically bleak "No Way Home" features instrumentation that supports the feelings of loneliness, loss, desperation, and isolation. The album ends with more somber tones, as "The Fire Dies" sees lush acoustic guitar strums and Roy's tender vocal take the listener out on a tranquil note.

The Lie of the Beholder really is an album full of 'light & shade', fluctuating from 'heavy to tranquil', and delivering 'menace as well as harmony', resulting in a varied listening experience that will prove to be quite rewarding to many. Overall it's not a very 'happy' album, as even the mellower tunes have a certain bleakness to them, but Roy Strattman has shown us that he's not only capable of delivering the melodic prog rock that he's known for in Little Atlas, but that he can kick things up a few notches and create some really heavy material that will appeal to a whole new audience. A job well done.

Track Listing
1) A Better World
2) Caught Inside the Rain
3) A Candle in the Sun
4) Jaded
5) The Scene of the Crime
6) Detonation
7) Solace
8) The Lie of the Beholder
9) Connection Lost
10) No Way Home
11) The Fire Dies

Added: August 1st 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 4743
Language: english

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Strattman: The Lie of the Beholder
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-07-31 18:04:18
My Score:

On the back of an excellent recent album with his band Little Atlas, I did wonder when approaching The Lie Of The Beholder from Strattman, the side project of Little Atlaser Roy Strattman, what this guitarist and composer could possibly have left to say. Now, after experiencing the joys of his first solo foray, I'm left wondering just how on earth he has managed to keep himself so quiet for so long!

Automatic Day, that recent Little Atlas release, did find the band venturing, just a smidge, towards the likes of Porcupine Tree and Riverside as reference points, however left to his own devices (although both bassist Ricardo Bigai and keyboard player Steve Katsikas have also absconded from Little Atlas for the day to contribute here), Strattman, while not following any particular sound, does find himself further down this "modern" Prog path. In truth, it is as though he's always resided in these musical surrounds, The Lie Of The Beholder being a confident and assured step that is sumptuously natural and dazzlingly unforced.

Don't take that to mean that he can't be forceful though, "A Better World" sees to that straight off the bat, a tense spoken word section leading into a searing, yet bright riff and staccato guitar trade off that ensures buy-in within seconds. That Strattman has the confidence to instantly pull this back to a bass led meander where his vocals take the focus from his wonderful guitar and keyboard interplay, says much about the strident, yet never ever, overbearing moods created across this album. Drummer, Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard) surges through the mix with dancing beats, a blur of toms and thundering kick drums, yet somehow he still sits in the pocket, laying down a groove music this complex, yet accessible, shouldn't be able to achieve. Track two, "Caught Inside The Rain" cleverly pulls everything back in, a dreamy, yet unsettling shard of clean guitar allowing the vocals to take centre stage through fragile, beautiful harmonies. It is a clear sign of the maturity this album holds, a pinpoint lead guitar line driving the song upwards on a soaring change of pace to the opening number. Confirming this is a release created as a full listening experience and while that may not be "fashionable" in this day of listening "devices", who cares when the journey is this good?

Sample "A Candle In The Sun" as it builds tension through angular keys and jabbing guitars, "The Scene Of The Crime" as it rumbles from jagged chords to a dreamy, maybe nightmarish vocal, or the almost swaggering instrumental strut of the album's title track, to understand the ever evolving themes on TLOTB as they spin you round from song to song. Each being individually attention grabbing, yet as "The Fire Dies" brings the whole thing to a sombre, stark conclusion, you realise that the true strength here is how all eleven tracks spark and react off each other, raising the whole experience even higher than the stunning sum of the parts.

I needn't have worried, for through The Lie Of The Beholder it is unarguably apparent that Strattman not only has a lot to say, but that we will be hanging on his every word for a long time to come.

Strattman: The Lie of the Beholder
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-07-18 23:15:01
My Score:

As I listen to The Lie of the Beholder, the new CD from Roy Strattman of Little Atlas, I can't help but thinking this will be one of the best CDs at year's end. This is truly exceptional progressive rock put forth by seasoned veterans of the genre. Besides Strattman (vocals, guitars, keyboards) the band includes more Little Atlas alumni in Ricardo Bigai (bass) and Steve Katsikas (piano). Nick D'virgilio, formerly of Spock's Beard, mans the drum kit. It is a formidable line-up and these musicians do not disappoint.

From the opening sounds of "A Better World" I knew this was going to be a special album. As the sound builds it quickly fades allowing for what sounds like voices on a radio and spacey synths paying homage to Pink Floyd. It soon turns to heavier prog and back and forth it goes. The heavier bits reminded me of Deadwing era Porcupine Tree. "Caught Inside the Rain" has a much more pastoral sound, again reminding me of Floyd and Porcupine Tree. The lead vocals are excellent as Strattman's laid back approach is both melodic and a perfect match for the band's moody approach to progressive rock. The Floyd-like guitar work is tasty as well. "A Candle in the Sun" has a cool atmospheric beginning with the guitar having a little more bite. Heavier riffs are injected into the mix and the band keep things interesting as the music takes little twists and turns. Excellent guitar work is featured in both "Jaded" and the melodic "The Scene of the Crime" while "Detonation" has a Beatles flair with distant keyboard notes and outstanding vocals before the heavier riffs unfold.

The entire album is top shelf from the first song to the last. I really hope The Lie of the Beholder is the first of many more albums to come as these guys show both tremendous chemistry and a flair for writing accessible progressive rock that in a perfect world would have a much wider appeal. Music like this needs to be supported so give it a listen and help spread the word.

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