(Louder Than Loud Records)
GUILD OF OTHERS
GUILD OF OTHERS is the progressive metal project of guitarist STEVE POTTS and drummer TOM WALLACE.
What catches the eye at first glance at the back cover are the very well-known guests, who are surprising for a debut.
There's keyboardist Derek Sherinian, bassist Tony Franklin, Saga frontman Michael Sadler and guitarist Craig Goldy, among others, with Sherinian in particular putting his stamp on many of the songs.
Since I'm only an occasional prog listener, I'm always happy when the music doesn't degenerate into instrumental orgies for too long. Fortunately, POTTS and WALLACE always manage to insert catchy passages into the songs, which should certainly make the numbers accessible to a larger audience. Especially "Balance" impresses with a refrain that can almost be described as pop.
But that doesn't mean that fans of hard Prog wouldn't get their money's worth here and so there are also tracks with "Always There" or "Veil Of Insanity" that fully deserve the label Prog Metal.
My personal highlight, however, is “Elysium”. Here Michael Sadler proves that he still has one of the most incisive voices in the music scene and can enhance every song with it.
For fans of catchy Prog, GUILD OF OTHERS are certainly worth a test run, especially since the unknown singer Mark Hammond has a real discovery on board.
Wow! What an array of musicians. Guild Of Others feels more like a project than a band, with only two of the contributors forming the core. The well-known names that are on the list here give a lot of hope, even though this is a debut album.
The compositions turn out to be just as thrown together as the lineup. I cannot say whether there is causality or whether it is simply an interpretation of progressiveness. What is positive, however, is that the music runs as if from a single source. Each song has a unique selling point within the album, is even composed of quite different passages and yet everything fits together into a seamless picture. At least by the standards of modern Prog Metal.
Shown as an example using "Balance": At the beginning there is a rhythmic intro that alternates between several chords played in rapid succession and a fading chord. Eventually the intensity builds and erupts in a lighter passage over which the guitars play a repeating melody, then a solo. It goes on with screaming keys behind which hectic guitars and drums rush ahead. Now the song continues with calm sounds of the keys and guitars, while the drums get even more hectic. Shortly thereafter, the drums are reduced to a simple beat, to which the guitars play rather choppy and crisp. Now it needs a swelling whirl of notes, until the first song sounds and with that more than a third of the song is over. It's remarkable how everything fits together here.
With "Always There" and "Memento" ballads are offered, which are a bit long-winded. "Elysium" then emerges again with a stomping rhythm. "Veil Of Insanity" offers a special treat, as a hard intro is followed by an almost pop-like verse with acoustic guitars. Even if some people get uncomfortable with the phrase "poppy", I have to point out that this passage in particular is great fun. Especially with the interplay of the clean and growled vocals and the powerful rhythms of the chorus.
The sound is impeccable, as is the mix. The drums sound rich and dry and always have the necessary precision to simply carry the listener along even in the wilder sections of the songs. The guitars are exactly tuned to it and master both the space-filling, longer-held chords and jagged gaits. The use of the clean guitars has already been praised. The keys dominate genre-typically large parts of the album and also get their solos. The bass is excellent to perceive, gives the whole thing more density, but hardly steps out of the shadow of the rest of the instruments. The singing is technically flawless. Mostly clean vocals were used here,
Strong! Prog Metal can be daunting to the untrained ear, especially when it seems like complex song structures have been diced and strung together at random. With the album of the same name, Guild Of Others manages to avoid this. Quite apart from that, this production is simply fun due to its creative aggressiveness and also makes you want more. A damper is the lengthy middle part of the album, which is occupied by the ballads.
Guild of Others – Guild of Others (Louder than Loud Records)
A collection of musicians well-known for their progressive flair, Guild of Others self-titled debut contains eight songs of smooth, hook-oriented progressive metal. Guitarist Steve Potts and drummer Tom Wallace started the group – seeking out an array of fine players to interpret their songwriting with flair, intricacy, and finesse. Aspects of Rush, Styx, Saga, and Toto come to mind the most when hearing songs like “Balance”, “New World Disorder”, and adventurous stadium-like ambiance closer “Spirit Host”. Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) lends his keyboard prowess, Tony Franklin (Blue Murder) throws down his treasured bass abilities, and three vocalists handle the singing – Mark Hammond on six tracks, with Michael Sadler (Saga) and Henrik Bath (Darkwater) taking the remaining two. Rare is the day you can say accessible and sophistication in the same sentence for a progressive act – but Guild of Others blend both aspects seamlessly for superior results.
– Matt Coe (Guild of Others on Facebook)
There is a unique emotion when you discover a band during the period that surrounds its debut album. With countless musical proposals being released every week, coming across a band’s first work is something exciting. In those cases, there is no previous work with which to compare the record or anything else that predisposes the listener to the experience. The musicians might be known for earlier efforts and different backgrounds, but still, there is no certainty with how they will sound. Instead, it drags you to the adventure without any prejudice or expectation. You simply receive what the band has prepared with its initial effort.
The excitement only grows when the record turns out to be quite enjoyable, leaving the listener with a strong desire to keep it in constant rotation and diligently follow the band as they prepare for their second album. That is precisely the case with Guild of Others and its debut album that goes by the same name as the band, resulting in a diverse and daring experience that succeeds in blending intricate musicianship with an accessible sound.
Formed by drummer Tom Wallace and guitarist Steve Potts, both musicians are the only core members of Guild of Others. Instead, the band seeks to enrich its sound with special guests that provide their chops throughout the album. Despite the fantastic work these guests performed, it is intended that different musicians will be invited to contribute to the musical vision created by Wallace and Potts for each future album.
The inclusion of different musicians for each track helps the music become diverse and attractive, making each piece sound unique but respecting a shared vision for the album consisted of making intricate music that is accessible. As a result, we find an album with different sound aspects that give rise to various styles but remain approachable.
Several guests participate in “Guild Of Others”, but the spotlight goes directly to the mighty Derek Sherinian. From the first second of the opening track, “Other Side”, the listener will immediately hear the unmistakable sound of Sherinian, who, as usual, exudes virtuosity with every intervention throughout the album.
The first track also serves as an introduction to the smooth and harmonious voice of singer Mark Hammond, who gets to sing for most songs, and to the tremendous bass lines and fills provided by bassist Tony Franklin, who is present through the whole record.
The diversity of the record can be found within each song that tends to explore different routes, but also every track aims to provide a distinct sensation than the rest of them. For instance, with “Memento” the beats slow down, and we are presented with a ballad- mid-tempo song, but that at all times keeps the emotion intact, mainly because of Hammond’s soft voice and the beautiful piano accompaniments.
The involvement of a musician of the status of Derek Sherinian is a feature that Tom and Potts prove to be up to for Guild of Others. Although the duo demonstrates their splendid musicianship throughout the entire album with fantastic grooves and killer solos, it is in “Elysium” where they reach the most significant technical complexity as they enter prog terrain but manage to keep it accessible.
As if that were not enough with the amazing guests that the duo has managed to gather, in this song, the vocals are in charge of Michael Sadler from Saga, who, with his powerful voice, takes control of the vocal section graciously.
Guild Of Others’ first effort delivers satisfactorily by presenting a band that understands how to create exciting and intriguing music while keeping it easy to digest. It also shows the interesting way the band has decided to work, with just two core members that would direct the sound direction of their music but that would enrich it from the contributions of different guests. If Sherinian was onboard for their debut album, the possibilities look promising and exciting. The bets are open.
Released By: Louder Than Loud Records
Released Date: February 18th, 2022
Genre: Progressive Metal
Tom Wallace / Drums
Steve Potts / Guitar
Mark Hammond / Vocals
Michael Sadler / Vocals
Henrik Bath / Vocals
Derek Sherinian / Piano, keyboards
Tony Franklin / Bass
Craig Goldy / Guitar