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Ghost Circus: Across the Line

As they did on their debut, Cycles, the two men in Ghost Circus open their second album of accessible progressive rock with another slow-building track that doesn't accurately represent the sound of multi-instrumentalists Chris Brown (from Tennessee) and Ronald Wahle (from The Netherlands). This time, the culprit is the acoustic guitar strumming and atmospheric keys of "Reflection." The song eventually segues into "Pathway," one of the heaviest and most riff-tastic songs this transcontinental duo has ever recorded, and it helps make Across the Line a more adventurous album than its predecessor.

Brown and Wahle met on Neal Morse's internet message board in 2004 and decided to create a long-distance musical collaboration. That connection continues to be strong, with "Holding On" and "Losing Time" memorable tunes that showcase their dusty vocals and set the stage for "Through the Light" an uplifting albeit slightly disjointed eight-part, 27-minute epic that follows the raucousness of "Through the Darkness." It's all capped with the 10-minute title track, a tour-de-force instrumental that incorporates myriad musical ideas into one cohesive and mind-blowing piece of progressive might.

Through it all, a near-perfect blend of prog and AOR recalls vintage Asia and Peter Gabriel, tempered by more-contemporary elements from such artists as Neal Morse and RPWL. Like Cycles, Across the Line was recorded across the miles but still sounds seamless. Some bands don't manage to be this good even when all of their members are in the same studio.

Track Listing:
1) Reflection
2) Pathway
3) Holding On
4) To Be
5) Losing Time
6) Through the Darkness
7) Through the Light Parts 1-8
8) Across the Line

Added: April 16th 2008
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Ghost Circus Web Site
Hits: 4908
Language: english

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Ghost Circus: Across the Line
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-04-16 14:49:53
My Score:

Chris Brown and Ronald Wahle, better known as Ghost Circus, are at it again with Across the Line, their second cross-continental release for ProgRock Records. You see, Brown is from Tennessee here in the US, while Wahle lives in The Netherlands, so the two have once again created a solid progressive rock statement without even being in the same studio together. This time around, there seems to be more metal elements on some of the songs, "Pathway" in particular, as well as "Holding On" and "Through the Darkness", each showing the more aggressive nature of the band. Crunchy guitar riffs and raging keyboards are the main drivers, with Brown's lead vocals taking somewhat of a back seat on many of the tunes. Actually, his vocals could probably use a little more 'oomph', as in spots they just don't seem strong enough to keep up with the bombastic arrangements. Musically speaking, this is one pretty focused album, as the duo alternates between prog rock, metal/hard rock, and AOR, the latter especially evident on the upbeat "Losing Time". Of course, a mandatory epic is included in the form of "Through The Light", an eight-part suite that takes the listener on many twists and turns, showing the band's symphonic prog side very well, and contains Brown's best vocal performance on the CD. The closing title track is a fun instrumental that sort of ties in all the styles hinted upon throughout the album, so expect some fiery fretwork, sumptuous keyboards, and tight rhythms here, as well as memorable melodies.

Lyrically, Across the Line is a concept album about the afterlife, so prog-rock fans who cherish these types of releases will love to follow along with the storyline as the CD takes you on the musical journey. Well done once again guys.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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