Heat is consuming,
cold is regenerating; every song from this instrumental HDCD is like
a walk along a high mountain path. Denver's guitarist has a long resume,
made of teaching performing and composing for over 25 years, spending
many years with several bands from the Western US; he has been specializing
in showcasing the capabilities of the guitar synth and has also written
guest columns for the instructional site
From the classical guitar intro of the Jethro Tull-inspired and riff-blazed
"Rising of the New Moon", to the pounding riffs and
textural interludes in the Prog Rock of "Eye of the Storm",
close to Aria, PFM and other unforgettable Italian 70's acts, Brown
chooses easier drum structures nevertheless leaves a profound mark in
"A Journey in Time" mixes Pomp Rock, Prog Metal along
with a few Eastern scales; includes one of the heavier riffs and breaks
of the whole album, while "The Journey Begins" blends
psychedelia, Jazz and several arpeggios. Distortion comes back with
the crushing Progressive of "The Gate of the Mists",
where an acoustic guitar is reinforced by a Malmsteenian solo; for fans
of the harder Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The ears of the ones
of Ritchie Blackmore and Van Halen will feast on the notes of the virtuoso
solos of the killer "Vertical Ascension", definitely
my favorite track, showing Brown's talent at 360°.
Lush guitar synth interventions and solos characterize "Winds
of Eolus", proving Charlie's ease with this instrument too;
some background noises and cymbals sounding too artificial slightly
deteriorate this track.
If "Altars of Sacrifice" had vocals, it might belong
to Genesis' repertoire, followed by the fluted Jethro Tull-like and
Prog fairy-tale structures, interrupted by soaring and volcanic axe
Satrianesque solos of "Absolute Zero".
The short "Radiation Zone" starts rife with momentum
and quickly makes way for Dream Theater elements, preceding a refined
fingerpicking and a shredded solo; the second real highlight of the
CD for sure.
The title track can simply be described as an opening soaked with Arabic
scales, followed by casts of 6-string solos at the ebullition point;
finally, "The Sunlight Never Dies", is inspired by
Pat Metheny, but luckily the artist from Colorado never falls into the
mistake of coarse solutions that make me repute Pat an overestimated
This work, also unplainly debtor to other musicians like Christopher
Parking, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Steve Howe, Alex Lifeson and Marillion,
deserves a earphone listen instead of a loud reproduction so as not
to lose any detail of Brown's earnest performance, who was rightly defined
the 'Jean Luc Picard of the guitar'.
The songs are not cold, but a stroke of creativity more and a more effective,
smooth and involving songwriting in certain compositions might make
him earn further popularity. Anyway, if acrobacies, class and dynamism
are the key words you're looking for in a Progressive Hard Rock record
and you don't buy more than 3 CDs a year, "Thru the Flames"
could be a satisfactory choice.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 20th June 2005