Charles Brown

'Thru the Flames'

(Fossil records)

MARK: 77/100


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 your mind.
"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 musician.

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.


Current line-up:
Charles Brown - all g. and g. synth
Matt Bassano - keyboards

Charles Brown, 4400 S. Quebec St. # M-103, Denver, CO 80237 - USA
Official site:

- Mystics (CD)
-Earth Voyage (CD)
-Mystic Visions (CD)
-Thru the Flames (CD - 2004)