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Chain - Exe

Chain - ExeThis year so far, has been a good one for some fine albums, but once in while one tends to stick in your mind for days. From the USA, Chain's latest release EXE does just that, and has you enjoying every minute of the eighty on offer here.

What this album has, is an excellent production and great musicianship, and to hand, the lead vocalist from Saga, Michael Sadler. Having had the pleasure of seeing Saga in the Netherlands a few years ago, Michael's voice just flowed effortlessly through the mix, and his voice does the same on this production.

Ok, so as before, the eighty minutes soon pass by, and the first seven tracks are taken up by Cities. With a total time a shade over thirty eight minutes, Cities rises and falls but keeps momentum and interest with many changes and styles, and with nice keyboard sounds by Stephan Kernbach just adds to the total entertainment. When you first press play, the intro can throw you out the room for a moment, with the Metallica type power chord start, but after a minute the keys enter and set the scene. Just another minute later, the gentle piano and vocal from Michael, take the song to another level. Going back to the guitar, the solo's and riffs are on a par with Michael's voice and are played by Henning Pauly, who also wrote most of the album.

The saxophone solo by guest musician Steve Katsikas takes the jazz style part of Cities by the neck, while the keys then take over, with the rest of the band starting in 4/4 then changing to difficult moves which some bands could find hard to emulate! Eddie Marvin on drums takes control with the double bass hammer sound, heard on such Dream Theater style bands, and you could imagine this song performed as a rock opera. With female voices provided by Maya Haddi and Jody Ashworth (a man who can hit the high notes!), again lift the whole thing a stage higher, and in future years, this will go down as a great piece of music.

She Looks At You is the ballad of the album. Matt Cash takes the vocal part on this one, and the piano is a delight along with the bass plod from Christian Becker, and it has the cigar lighter hold in the air sort feeling. Henning's guitar solo too scores bonus points, and ends with the vocal high and piano.

The thrash metal style Eama Hut features guest Sean Andrews on Stunt bass, then the keys hit in with a pleasing synth sound, and along with the power riffs and chords once again give this song a harder edge.

Never Leave The Past Behind has a chamber vocal start before the Dream Theater style keys and guitar power chords appear and Matt's vocals are at their most dominate best on this one. This is a operatic song and does not feel out of place at all on the album. The guitar solo is again a welcomed event.

A Saga song Hot To Cold is next sung by Michael and Matt, and again features tight faultless musicianship, and is performed in the typical Saga way. Closing track Last Chance To See is a tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which was turned into quite a cult television series from 1981. It is a moving song and is sung by Victoria Trevithick, and along with the gentle piano is a highlight on the album. On vocals, Victoria is joined by Mike Keneally, who performs the guitar solo midway through too. Mike's credits include Frank Zappa and Steve Vai among others, and he gives the song a nice high, along with the HGTTG theme tune (Journey of The Sorcerer - The Eagles) played by Henning on Banjo. Henning too is joined by the orchestral sounds on the theme.

To sum up, this is an album of many styles, and unique in many ways. The whole package of band and production is second to none, and has to be a purchase of Dream Theater, Saga, Queensryche and Savatage fans alike. Album of the year?

Danny Mayo



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