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Heliopolis: City of the Sun

Here's a new band who delivers mightily on their 10T Records debut, the prog rock act who call themselves Heliopolis. Comprised of former members of bands such as Mars Hollow, Rocket Scientists, Ten Jinn, and Genesis tribute act Gabble Ratchet, Heliopolis features veteran musicians Jerry Beller (drums and vocals), Matt Brown (keyboards and vocals), Kerry Chicoine (bass and vocals), Mike Matier (guitars), and Scott Jones (vocals). Musically they take elements from all their experiences in their previous groups and meld them into a new progressive rock journey that all genre fans will love.

Though only 5 tracks, City of the Sun contains a wealth of material, as three of the songs exceed the 8-minute mark, with the closing epic "Love and Inspiration" clocking in at 14:05 of pure progressive rock bliss. "New Frontier" kicks things off in pretty heavy fashion, as Matier's guitar riffs provide a menacing tone alongside Brown's ominous keyboards and the thunderous rhythms from Chicoine & Beller. Once the band settles in after that crushing opening, lovely vocal harmonies, sumptuous keyboards, and intricate rhythms take you into upbeat, melodic symphonic prog, Heliopolis sounding like a band that's been recorded together for decades rather than the first time. "Take a Moment" has a brooding feel to it, not unlike classic material from early '80s prog veterans IQ or Marillion, with Matier serving up tasty lines with Brown that really deliver the stunning chops that prog fans crave, but all housed within a lush, melodic framework. "Mr. Wishbone" is a quirky, fun instrumental that reminds of Spock's Beard, and the beautiful "Elegy" soars thanks to some amazing vocals from Jones and Brown's colorful keyboard textures. As mentioned earlier, "Love and Inspiration" is a stunning achievement, with grandiose soundscapes, tasty lead lines, challenging passages, powerful vocals, and, well, everything in between.

Modern sounding but with plenty of references to the prog greats of the '70s & '80s, City of the Sun pushes all the right buttons and signals the arrival of a new powerhouse on the scene. Welcome to the show Heliopolis, and we look forward to many years of quality progressive rock from you. Judging by what's on display here, they are off and running and will no doubt provide just that for years to come.

Track Listing
1. New Frontier 10:12
2. Take A Moment 8:56
3. Mr. Wishbone 3:31
4. Elegy 6:07
5. Love and Inspiration 14:05

Added: December 2nd 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3661
Language: english

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Heliopolis: City of the Sun
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-12-01 18:04:08
My Score:

Any band featuring members who can count time in Mars Hollow, Tin Jenn or Rocket Scientists on their CV have to be worth a whirl, don't they? Damn right they do and Heliopolis, who can lay claim that bold statement prove it true. So often debut albums from line-ups which promise much fall flat but not City Of The Sun, for this really is an album pulling not only from the previous experiences of its members, but also from the best of what Prog has offered up since the 70s. Everyone from Yes to Spock's Beard, Mars Hollow to IQ, Genesis to Transatlantic is brought into focus, yet even though Michael Matier's guitar tone can lean heavily on Steve Howe for inspiration, the likenesses never seem overpowering. Vocalist Scott Jones somehow sits neatly between the fragility of Jon Anderson and the bullishness of Geddy Lee, his efforts pushing songs which otherwise might appear over technical into accessible mode; a real coup for a band so willing and capable to take you on the Prog merry go round. "Take A Moment" combines fragility to strength, a curious early Marillion like melody climbing onto a Yes vibe to revel in sumptuous musical tradeoffs, drums pounding and popping, as keyboards build and soar across an underpinning of roaming bass.

The short "Mr. Wishbone" unearths a curious instrumental which in places seems to bark like a dog and in others bloop and bleep like a 70s experimental moog presentation. However as riffs clash over its head, a threatening rush suddenly takes over. It's an odd little interlude, but on an album which cleverly remains a short blast of five songs and forty something minutes, makes for a pleasant stop off point from the more rampant excursions. "Elegy" adds an almost Kansas lightness to proceedings, while "Love And Inspiration", calms everything down for this album's classy conclusion.

City Of The Sun is a rare thing, capable of twisting the Prog of the 70s and 80s into that of the 2000s. That it does so with the caressing conviction revealed here suggests that we may be looking at one of the stalwarts of the scene for the late 2010s.

Heliopolis: City of the Sun
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-10-14 23:09:35
My Score:

The sun has indeed been shining on this prog rock quintet as Heliopolis is starting to carve out a pretty big name for themselves after forming in 2012. That's great news as I can think of no band right now that deserves more kudos than these guys. Consisting of former members of Mars Hollow, Ten Jinn and Gabble Ratchet (Genesis tribute band), the players are Jerry Beller (drums, vocals), Matt Brown (keyboards, vocals), Kerry Chicoine (bass, vocals), Mike Matier (guitars) and Scott Jones (vocals).

There is certainly a retro flavour here of classic melodic '70s progressive rock but that description will hardly suffice in what is an outstanding modern day prog rock classic. This band has no weak links and a few impressions stood out upon my initial listen. First off, the rhythm section of Chicoine and Beller drives this disc into prog rock heaven. Chicoine's tone, sometimes having a Geddy Lee/Squire feel is massive, fluid and warm and serves these songs so well. In tandem with Beller's sometimes complicated fills and rolls these guys are a force to be reckoned with. Not to be outdone, Brown's plethora of keyboards and synth sounds are classy, virtuosic and more importantly suite the needs of each tune. Sure there are some great solos throughout the disc but it's never at the expense of the 'song'. Guitar wise, Matier is also highly visible offering a variety of chords and riffage along with a few tasty solos. Finally the vocals. Jones has a warm and inviting timbre and is a key component to the band's sound. The vocal harmonies are quite lovely which should come as no surprise considering four out of five band members add vocals.

The first track "New Frontier" is a fantastic opener. It is a grandiose beginning of big crunchy riffs, guitar pyrotechnics and stunning drum work. I like the heavier sound before the band settles into a melodic prog rock groove with lovely lead vocals and tasty synthesizer workouts. "Take a Moment" is a little moodier and darker sounding at first before the band get into full prog mode, alternating between atmospheric dreaminess and fiery complexity. "Mr. Wishbone" takes its cue from the mighty Crimson, offering the listener a platter slightly more eclectic and chaotic than anything in the first two tracks and assuring us their music is anything but safe. In contrast, the pretty "Elegy" is the perfect counterpoint to the previous bit of complexity with heartfelt vocals, soaring guitar and elegant organ work. The last track "Love and Inspiration" is a melodic and inspired epic transitioning between classic Yes-like prog with jazzy undertones to searing guitar led sections but it is the keyboard work that really sets the mood and atmosphere of the piece. Sinuous synth lines, jazz inflected piano and soaring keys all help to solidify the music's uplifting and positive tone.

Not much else needs to be said. City Of the Sun is one of those albums that will appeal to prog fans both old and new and will be at the top of my 'best of' list come year's end. Now, just go out and buy the darn thing!

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