I found out about The Great Gamble on the ProgPower USA message board very recently. These guys are an unsigned Progressive Metal band from northeast Pennsylvania and have put their debut album Book 1 out on Band Camp. They are offering the album for free, but I was impressed enough that I decided to pay them a little something for the effort. After just one listen, I felt that the band has great depth, superior talent, and are far better than a lot of other established bands in Prog Metal. This album needed a review and some exposure.
There are only 6 songs on the album, 5 if you discount the minute and a half interlude The Marketplace, and nearly an hour of play time. The shortest proper song is just under 9 minutes long, so if you like your Prog Metal in big chunks, The Great Gamble will satisfy. They kick off Book 1 with Release the Kraken, a 10 minute track with quite a few meanderings into different territories. They have a hint of Middle Eastern influence, a bit of Redemption in their sound, and a whole lot of creativity. Excellent songwriting with enough Prog elements (time signatures, time changes, overall song structure) that they keep it interesting. Oh yeah, it’s heavy too, and with some really nice vocal harmonies throughout. That actually is present through the whole album. After the previously mentioned The Marketplace, they launch into Legends of the Symmetria, nearly 9 minutes of Progressive goodness. Again the band displays outstanding musical prowess, very nicely executed vocal harmonies, awesome riff writing. I read an opinion that the vocal performance was reminiscent of King’s X, and I guess I do hear some influence there, but this is by means a copycat. There is excellent interplay between guitar and keyboard on this track, as well as killer drumming on display. Only one problem – the song fades out – a pet peeve of mine. It does not ruin an otherwise excellent song.
The Ghost of Three Reflections starts off as a ballad, leading to some tasty lead work and more harmonious vocal work. There does seem to be a King’s X influence in the song structure and composition, but with their own twist on it. At around the 4:30 mark, they morph the song from ballad to a bit more of a Prog tune, increasing complexity and gaining heaviness, along with a simply outstanding guitar solo. They go on to explore syncopation and other interpretations of the initial melodies, superb drumming holding it all together – even with a very interesting solo to end the track. Breach at Fort Mycenae follows continuing the syncopated rhythms from the previous song, feeling like the logical next track. Quite interesting violin work on this song, trading licks with the lead guitar. The Sleepwalker Part 1 – Tears of Dagon concludes the album, and clocking in at over 16 minutes, is by far the longest track on Book 1. It is also the best song on the album. The Great Gamble’s mature and interesting song writing skills, as well as their impressive execution, are presented in their full glory throughout this song. They explore a lot of Progressive Metal territory here between complicated time signatures and interesting song structure. Of course, 16 minutes is a lot of time to do that. There are some nice Power Metal elements to this song as well. It is just a great song.
Here is the track The Ghost of Three Reflections:
I am absolutely impressed by The Great Gamble and only hope they get signed by a label and continue what they have done here. They can consider me a fan and I can’t wait to hear Book 2.
I hear the sound in a METAL way.