As if the title is supposed to symbolize that prog-rock is the second coming of some extinct mammal, the newest release from Trent Garner's Explorers Club is actually a tour-de-force for the genre. Once again, the Magellan keyboardist/vocalist has assembled a superstar line-up of prog heavyweights for another go-round of musical bombast and intense lyrical content.
The sheer presence of Kansas front-man Steve Walsh should prompt many to run out and check this CD out. Walsh lends his superior vocal capabilities to the first two sections, "Passage to Paralysis" and "Broad Decay", the former being a heavy guitar, prog romp, while the latter an emotional, more atmospheric tune that lets Walsh really shine with some powerful vocals. Dream Theater's James LaBrie lends his pipes to the third part of the first section titled "Vertebrates." The line-up for the CD is such; Gardner adds vocals and keyboards, Cairo's Mark Robertson many of the flashy keyboard solos, Marty Friedman the guitar solos, Kerry Livgren from Kansas throws in some acoustic guitar and electric solos, Shadow Gallery's Gary Wehrkamp adds the heavy rhythm guitar work, and bassist John Myung from Dream Theater and Zappa/UK drummer Terry Bozio round out the rhythm section. It's quite a spectacle for the eardrums to say the least! The final piece, "Gigantipithicus". is a 20 minute instrumental squarely in the ELP vien, with lots of bombastic keyboard and guitar work that should please fans of symphonic and aggressive prog.
While perhaps not as much in the prog-metal style as the bands debut release, Raising the Mammoth is a wonderful addition to any symphonic rock fans collection. It has been said that Trent Gardner is growing a bit tired of the overblown, complex prog epics, so perhaps this might be the last chance to hear true "dinosaur" rock from Mr. Gardner & Co.? Only time will tell, but this CD is a winner.