The Fifth Row
As a whole, the bulk of the music journalists at the gap-toothed epicenter of the blogosphere are often quite eager to abuse and overuse the terms 'groundbreaking', 'revolutionary' and even 'breathtaking' when describing the artists and groups they feel are deserving of additional or renewed recognition. Unfortunately for you, the increasingly-faithful reader, this has resulted in you being repeatedly subjected to my painfully adjective-riddled prattling concerning State Of Euphoria era Anthrax, Dream Theater, ex-Holland/Nitro axeman Michael Angel Batio and post-Metal Health Quiet Riot (i.e. QR III, QR and Terrified) on a semi-regular basis throughout the course of what remains of my tattered journalistic career. Not surprisingly, when we were initially approached regarding coverage of the highly-anticipated The Fifth Row, the latest--and quite possibly greatest--auditory offerings from truly-unsung Progressive Metal veterans Mile Marker Zero, we were more than happy to partake.
On the brilliant The Fifth Row (2018), an expertly assembled fifteen song collection of Prog-fueled Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the relentlessly pummeling--albeit oft-hook-laden--“2001” and the maddeningly infectious gem “Digital Warrior”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Undoubtedly attempting to capitalize on the veritable tidal wave of momentum initiated by the equally independent releases of the Young Rust EP (2014) and their full-length debut Mile Marker Zero (2009), the group fires on all cylinders early and often. Wisely refusing to condemn themselves to the 'tried and true' formulations favored by the crème de la crème of the genre's elite, they seamlessly immerse the senses by unleashing a sonic assault that easily exceeds the most optimistic of expectations, earning itself a deserving but unexpected early choice for record of the year.
Continuing with the fist-pumping, mosh-inducing “Victory” and the thought-provoking social commentary “Propaganda”, the woefully-underrated combination of multi-octave vocalist Dave Alley, guitarist John Tuohy (Blanck Stare, Reptillicus, Saggar Ace), bassist Jaco Lindito, keyboardist Mark Focarile and drummer Doug Alley steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully-calculated pace. Wholeheartedly embracing an array of increasingly diverse elements of Emerson, Lake And Palmer and 'earliest' Styx (most notably their experimental pre-Equinox era), the group wastes little--if any---time reminding their remaining detractors of their still-burgeoning reputation as a bona fide creative force not to be ignored. Delivering the proverbial goods without, believe it or not, 'bogging down' amid the immensity of their obvious virtuosic abilities, they adroitly drive home each key focal point as Alley, Tuohy and Focarile fastidiously intertwine their vast instrumentations.
A self-Produced affair throughout with Mastering duties astutely handled by the acclaimed Andy VanDette (Devin Townsend, Metallica, Rush), other standouts, including the mind-boggling exercise in time signature changes “2020” and thunderous and equally impressive closer the “Collective”, overwhelmingly re-enforce the group's more-than-considerable critical and commercial aspirations. An absolute must-have for anyone with a genuine and sincere interest in music that is both simultaneously grandiose and over-the-top while remaining entirely melodic and accessible, the mighty The Fifth Row ultimately succeeds by proffering a painstakingly assembled quintessence of their modus operandi. The end results, as you may have already deduced, is a one of the finest Prog Rock/Metal releases in recent memory, a much-welcomed and increasingly rare characteristic that will undoubtedly find the group lounging in the dizzying heights of international acclaim for years to come.
So what, exactly is everyone waiting for? Even if you somehow find yourself less than enthralled with the group's sporadic discography, one must, at the very lest sincerely admire their ability to remain potent amid the confines of the über competitive Prog Metal sub-genre. With the majority--if not all--of the lastingly memorable wares contained herein seemingly guaranteed to leave both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike only wanting for more, the end result of their more-than-considerable efforts are, without a doubt, worthy of the highest of critical and commercial accolades. Love it or loathe it, The Fifth Row and, as a result, the group itself, is quite possibly as good as it gets. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a thought-provoking reprieve from the staggering array of Pop and Hip-Hop banalities that are so often force fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane salve for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
The Fifth Row (2018)
Young Rust (EP) (2014)
Mile Marker Zero (2009)
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