Another great cd from CAIRO, America's best prog band.
Jeffery K. Matheus | Indianapolis, IN United States | 01/28/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Cairo are a creative, complex, and wonderfully bombastic band that I would recommend (and often do!) to anyone who is a fan of the Classic progressive rock bands of the 70's; Yes, ELP, Kansas, and early-Genesis (just to name the most obvious.) However, having said that I should qualify it by saying that Cairo is no mear copycat of any of these bands, they have a distinctive, finely-crafted sound that incorperates elements of all of these diverse influences, as well as their own unique stamp of artistry. While England has produced most of the great prog artists over the last three decades, I often say that Cairo is the best progressive rock band to ever emerge from American soil, and this album only strenghens that opinion. Released late last year by Magna Carta Records; "Time of Legends" is Cairo's third album, and rates very highly alongside the rest of the Cairo catalog (even their hard-to-follow 1998 gem "Conflict & Dreams"!) It also rates extremely high among recent releases from other new (and old) progressive rock bands (in fact, I have played "Time of Legends" far more often than the most recent Yes release "Magnification", and this says a lot since I'm a life-long Yes fan who quite liked "Magnification"!) When I first recieved this CD and started flipping through the CD booklet (as I often do), one thing that surprised me was the length of songs - quite shorter than most of those on the first two albums (which featured some 18 to 22 minute epics like "Western Desert" and "Ruins at Avalon's Gate"). On "Time of Legends" the longest piece clocks in at just under 11 minutes, with most songs in the 6 to 8 minute range. So, I wondered; was Cairo going going more mainstream and commercial on me? Was the band watering-down their bombastic songwriting and complex playing?...Well, after many, many listens to this album I can now say with certainty....NO!...DEFINITELY NOT!! Cairo has just as much power and artistic strenghth as they ever have, and in fact, if anything, they have become a tighter and more consise unit with this album. As usual, the music is built around the dazzling keyboard work of Mark Robertson (who uses an especially colorful arsenal of vintage and modern keyboard sounds), and the rhythmic power of drummer Jeff Brockman (these two guys could give any of prog's legendary musicians a run for their money!). The soaring tenor vocals are provided by the talented Bret Douglas, who has become of of my favorite singers with his rich, distinctive voice. Bret sings in a higher vocal-register, similar to someone like Jon Anderson or Dennis DeYoung, but Bret's actual voice and vocal delivery are all his own! Long-time Cario guitarist Alec Furhman left the band shortly before the recording of this album, but he is more than ably replaced here with two "special guest" studio guitarists, Brian Hutchison and Luis Maldonado. The album kicks off NOT with a long instrumental intro like most prog albums, but with the whole band (and vocals) charging at you from the first note! Songs like "Homecoming" and "The Prophecy" are some of the finest examples of dynamic modern prog-rock you will ever hear, and they show off the many talents of Robertson, Douglas, and Brockman quite nicely. "Coming Home" is an intense rock piece highlighted by some tight vocal harmonies and nimble-fingered Hammond Organ work from Robertson. Cosmic Approach" is an atmospheric instrumental piece based mainly around rhythms (its perhaps loosely comparable to Pink Floyd's "On the Run"). "You Are the One" is a mid-tempoed rocker that clocks in at just under 6 minutes, and includes some excellent vocal touches from Douglas, and melodic lead-synth from Robertson. "The Fuse" is an ELP-like instrumental showcase than closes the album, and features some blistering interplay between Robertson and Brockman. The only real problem with this album is that, at only 47 minutes, it simply seems TOO SHORT!...especially when the other Cairo albums all clock in at over an hour. I felt that this already strong album could have been just a bit stronger if another piece featuring Bret's vocals was featured towards the end of the album (as it is, Mr. Douglas's distinctive voice, one of the most defining elements of Cairo's sound - is missing from the final 10 minutes of the album! This seems like a strange choice to me). Anyway, I am only taking a star away from my rating because of the short running time, otherwise, this is another five star album from one of prog-rock's best!"
Great Progressive hard rock!!!
swriter7 | New Jersey | 10/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Cairo's new album does not waste any time, and one second into the first song Underground, the vocals kick in and take your attention over. This is a great kicking song with keys similar to that of ELP coming in the song and taking you on a ten minute journey, this is the highlight of the album.
Prophecy is an intense instrumental song that keeps the album fantastic. Imagine a mix of the best keys you heard since ELP but in a harder rock vein and mixed with gret lead guitar parts. The vocals of Cairo are extremely well done and the vocalist has a high voice but great and it soars to the heavens. The next short song takes you in another direction into Scottish Highland. You are the One is a shorter tune but more ballad oriented, a beautiful song!!! Coming Home is also a highlight of the album and great, great key work as well as guitar leads abundant. The last track is a great way to end the album in an instrumental tune. This is Cairo's third album and although the songs are a bit shorter then the tunes on their first 2 albums, I feel this cd is much more focused and more song oriented and well thought out key and guitar parts as well as an awesome bass player and great vocals. This is the best in the Cairo catalogue. Also on this album, Cairo is now a three piece band with studio guitarists and they really fit, a great album."
Bright, energetic, keyboard-driven prog; had me wanting more
Squire Jaco | Buffalo, NY USA | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 2001, I found a promotional copy of this cd in a cut-out bin at the local record store, liked the name of the group and the cover art, and took a chance on this group that I had previously never heard of.
For less than $5.00, I discovered a real prog gem!
Cairo is an American band that features virtuosic keyboards (Mark Robertson) very much in the ELP and Triumvirat style, and a lead vocalist (Brett Douglas) who possesses a vocal clarity similar to Josh Pincus (Ice Age) and Dennis DeYoung (Styx) that can soar richly above the music. (Actually, Noel McCalla's voice from Mike Rutherford's "Smallcreep's Day" also comes to mind.)
The music is mixed very brightly, and overall has a very powerful and inspiring feel, without ever really getting heavy. When I first put this cd on, I was immediately drawn in as the music punches right in on the first beat, with strong vocals quickly following ("It will soon be here..."). Very exciting and layered keyboards throughout the album, excellent driving drums (Jeff Brockman), some fine guitar solos from various guest musicians - all combine to perform some really great compositions very well. This cd is a real treat.
Shame on them for only including 47 minutes of music...I was hungry for more. Unfortunately, shorter albums automatically lose 1/2 a star on my rating scale. But, this cd was the single catalyst for my re-exploration of so much more progressive music over the past six years, so I'm indebted to Cairo. Recommended.
I value interesting music that is played and recorded well. This cd's rating was based on:
Music quality = 9/10; Performance = 9/10; Production = 9/10; CD length = 7/10.
Overall score weighted on my proprietary scale = 8.8 ("4-1/2 stars")