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Saga: 10,000 Days

Well, this is it, the last Saga album to feature Michael Sadler as lead vocalist, as the singer is stepping down to devote time to his familar after 30 years with the legendary Canadian band. 10,000 Days comes fairly quickly after 2006's Trust, which many felt was one of Saga's strongest releases in years. This one is pretty comparable overall to Trust, or any of Saga's releases over the last few years, filled with catchy pop hooks, Ian Crichton's metallic guitar work, and plenty of prog keyboard sounds. Opening cut "Lifeline" is a heavy rocker with some prog flourishes, fueled by Crichton's crunchy riffs and Sadler's quirky yet melodic vocals. "Book of Lies" brings the band back to their early 80's material, a real witty gem with lots of bubbling synths from Jim Gilmour and Ian's menacing guitar tone. The guitarist throws in a solo on this one that is perhaps his best in years, full of technique, flash, and emotion.The majestic "Sideways" has an almost Gentle Giant feel to it during the intro, but it then morphs into a catchy symphonic rocker that is trademark Saga.

The band relies on metal-ish riffs, snappy drum fills, undulating keyboards, and a charming vocal from Sadler on "Can't You See Me Now?", a decent track but not one of the CD's best. However, the amazing instrumental "Corkentellis" explodes with over 7-minutes of scorching chops and memorable melodies, as the Canadian veterans seem to want to show the world that they are in fact a prog rock band above all else. Fans of Dream Theater, Planet X, and Liquid Tension Experiment will love what they hear on this one! Ian Crichton trades triplets with Gilmour's blazing synths, while Sadler's keys add color and the rhythm team of Brian Doerner & Jim Gilmour blast away. I'd love to hear more of this for sure! "More Than I Deserve" is a nice but ultimately forgettable pop number with atmospheric keys and acoustic guitar. Sadler puts in a nice emotional vocal, and Crichton's guitar solo is touching, but in the end many will probably want more. Thankfully "Sound Advice" once again brings back some of the vintage Saga sounds, complete with fluttering synths, crunchy riffs, and an outstanding Sadler-led chorus. The title track is grand and majestic prog rock, Sadler soaring over gorgeous keyboard tapestries and layers of backing vocals for a truly wonderful song. The album closer "It Never Ends" seems to be the ending of an era, the final piece that Sadler and the band are to record together. Lyrically, it all seems a little bittersweet, yet you get the impression that they are parting as friends and just wanting to rip it up one more time. There's plenty of instrumental fireworks on this one, making it a great, if not poignant, end to this chapter of Saga.

All indications are that Saga are busy searching for a replacement for Sadler and will begin the next 'chapter' in the history of this long-running band. He's going to be tough to replace, as Michael has always had one of the more unique vocal styles around and added so much to the Saga sound. Time will tell how it all unfolds, but if 10,000 Days is indeed his last moment with the band, he went out on a high note.

Track Listing
1. Lifeline (5:37)
2. Book Of Lies (5:44)
3. Sideways (4:53)
4. Can't You See Me Now (6:12)
5. Corkentellis (7:12)
6. More Than I Deserve (5:22)
7. Sound Advice (5:17)
8. 10,000 Days (4:31)
9. It Never Ends (6:10)

Added: January 29th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Saga Website
Hits: 4921
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Saga: 10,000 Days
Posted by Steve Fleck, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-01-29 12:49:58
My Score:

Celebrating 30 years together, Saga's 19th studio album "10,000 Days" also marks their last with singer Michael Sadler.

With crisp, consistent arrangements and a cold, frosty feel (much like their Canadian homeland), "10,000 Days" put me in mind of 90's Fates Warning if Martin Barre of Jethro Tull were on guitar. Saga's Ian Crichton's full-on power chords and creamy bends instantly recall the Tull maestro's latter period, which is quite a compliment.

Fronting Saga since 1977, Sadler has made his departure official. The fact that the band is not officially breaking up confirms that they will soldier on with a replacement. Rumor has it that they are holding "You Tube" auditions to find the right guy, so if "On The Loose" is on your karaoke list...

Lame duck or not, on "10,000 Days," Sadler makes 1977 seem not so far away, displaying at age 54 a solid range and a characteristic timbre which will be missed.

Unfortunately, amidst all of their riff-meistering, layered keys and time signature changes, you don't really get a sense of what Saga can do with a melody until the 8th track, "10,000 Days," (though "More Than I Deserve" comes close) and that's too bad, because it soars, and leaves you wanting more.

That said, the first half of "10,000 Days" is pretty kickin' stuff. I enjoyed the cold crunch of "Book Of Lies," the Kansas-like "Sideways," and the chugging triplets of "Can't You See Me Now?" While I didn't need the shredding instrumental "Corkentellis," it did break up the set a bit (though to me it was the same arrangement as the previous 4 songs, minus the vocals). By track 7 ("Sound Advice"), I was noting a stylistic same-ness between the songs that approached drone-like perfection. I tend to prefer a little more variance in styles within an album.

All criticism aside, "10,000 Days," though lacking some color, is expertly executed and features several intriguing songs that warrant a second listen.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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