Adding another new name to the vast number of talented musicians who are plying their wares is a guitarist / songwriter from Ohio called James Bakula. James's collection of songs on this 2003 release falls within the progressive metal thread with a few, albeit short, incursions into new age territory. James is responsible for all guitars, bass and vocals together with drum and synth programming. Musically, James is quite a talented guitarist and seems to handle the chore of songwriting with more than sufficient skill. His compositions are all well structured with sufficient variety to please most ears although, at his own admission, he lacks experience in laying down the vocal melodies. This should develop over time as he discovers new ideas and as is often the case with any musician who displays a modicum of talent, he may well be invited to join a more established band. I believe this may be his best line of attack as it must be difficult to find regular, well paying gigs when you confront the nightclub manager as a one man band that just happens to play a bit of metal here and there.
Being a totally solo album, the first thing that is very noticeable is the extremely mechanical and formulaic sound of the drums. Although James is remarkably adept at programming the vast array of drum sounds, the reality is that I know of no human drummer who can display such intense accuracy, with countless triplets and counter syncopation that quite frankly would be nigh on impossible to play live or even with many overdubs. Most drummers would be proud to be able to hit the skins with such precision and with such brilliant timing but such talent is just not humanly feasible on a protracted basis. For this reason alone, the music regrettably possesses a somewhat artificial sound, lacking the raw edge and immediacy that accompanies those songs played with a proper drummer.
The track, "Algorithm", is definitely the most progressive song on this 34 minute CD, with some great chops and synth lines that weave in and out with the guitar. The title of the 6th track called "The Sadness Never Sleeps" seems a bit out of place as it starts off with a vengeance, segues into a much quieter section and breaks back into a longer piece with some more great riffing and chord changes. Although it is not always fair to pigeonhole the style of music under review, I guess a salutary comment would be to describe most of the style of music on this discs as being a more technical Black Sabbath played with modern equipment and instruments. Technical Ecstasy? Perhaps? Perhaps not!
As mentioned earlier, James's skills in most areas of songwriting are quite evident however; I believe such skills could be put to better use within a better established band that is seeking a well rounded musician who can lay a solid foundation with his ideas. Using a proper singer, dropping the clinical sound of the drum machine and replacing it with a humanoid version together with a full-time keyboard player or bassist could steer the band in more fruitful directions. There is no denying the latent talent that is evident on this release and with a few improvements, I am sure the overall sound would mature and develop into something more worthwhile.