NEXT TO NONE - A Light In The Dark
The band name Next To None fits perfectly well with this band that doesnít want to stand next to anyone else. This doesnít mean that the four young men are the only ones who know how to play powerful progressive rock, but rather that their 18 to 19 year old peers usually prefer to play rock, punk, metal or hip hop, and leaving the progressive rock/metal genres to their elder generation. Maybe the fact that the father of drummer Max Portnoy is Mike Portnoy, drummer for Dream Theater and countless other prog bands.
All four musicians started early on playing their instruments, most of them with a classical education. They got to know each other as young teenagers and released one year later a first EP which sold out very fast. Now they have been signed by InsideOut Records who released the bandís debut album A Light In The Dark.
The long running time of the album and of certain songs surprised me. It is quite a daring move to choose the ten minute long The Edge Of Sanity as the opener. The song comes with heavy riffs that give room to more melodic parts. The vocals are also quite aggressive for a progressive rock band and help differentiate the band from other prog artists. The song is full of variety and extremely playful, demanding the listenersí undivided attention. This may be an unusual, but also very bold and successful choice for an opener. The technical knowhow of the musicians can be witnessed throughout the album. The drums are played with striking precision, but also the fast guitar and keyboard parts add to the final productís quality. Three of the albumís songs are about ten minutes long, among which I want to point out the varied Control that shows that Mike Portnoy must have Dream Theater in his genes. The shorter tracks donít lack quality either. Runaway is a fun song with hit potential, and Social Anxiety comes with strange vocal effects, reminding me of Faith No More.
As great as the album usually is, there are also some less glorious moments. Lost begins with Griegís Mountain King suite but takes too long to become a regular rock song. A Lonely Walk and the minimalist Legacy are both too quiet and unspectacular for my taste.
It is obvious that Next To None are always at their best whenever they can rock straight ahead. Such young guys shouldnít waste their time with ballads. Now the musicians want to finish school, and then letís hope that they will treat us with more of their promising progressive rock.