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Bigelf: Into the Maelstrom


Bigelf is a progressive, psychedelic rock/metal band straight out of Los Angeles, California.  Formed in 1991, the band currently consists of Damon Fox (vocals and keyboard) and Duffy Snowhill (bass); special guests Luis Maldonado (guitar) and Mike Portnoy (famed drummer of Dream Theater) appear on their latest album, Into the Maelstrom, which was released on March 3, 2014. Into the Maelstrom is the band’s fourth studio album, which comes six years after their last album in 2008.

635230353660184880“Incredible Time Machine” begins with a high-pitched keyboard symphony of notes that build up to an intro of the guitars and drums.  The song has a catchy beat to it amidst the chaos of all of the crazy instruments, random sound effects and tempo changes.  The descending chromatic chord progression gives a trippy feel to the tonality of the song.  Portnoy demonstrates his abilities with his creative beats and fills.

“Hypersleep” begins with an automated voice overtop among a chaotic scene of high- pitched keyboards and heavily distorted guitars. This leads into a creative metal chord progression, accented by Portnoy’s intense drumming rhythms. The song later progresses into a classic rock sound with a catchy guitar riff and a typical chord progression.  Fox hits several high notes during the chorus and harmonizes with himself throughout the verses, making the song that much more trippy, along with the strange guitar effects and ‘80s robotic-sounding keyboard effects.

“Already Gone” starts with a clean guitar and a slightly delayed vocal line, which gives a surreal “Sergeant Peppers-esque feel.  The song remains soft until it kicks into a distorted guitar driven chord progression during the bridge, and then into a classic rock guitar solo, much like Jimmy Page, which runs throughout the last chorus.

“Alien Frequency” also starts with a clean guitar and delayed vocals.  A harmonized vocal line enters, reminding me of a Freddy Mercury style.  The guitars enter with a heavily distorted rhythm that leaves the listener rocking his head. Fox exhibits his vocal talents by singing in a high octave. Portnoy also plays several face-melting drum fills during the bridge.

“The Professor & The Madman” displays a vocal harmony heard during the ‘70s peace and love era, and also features an Arabian twang  guitar in the intro.  The drums enter along with distorted guitars, which progresses the song into a Black Sabbath style.  The main guitar riff sounds similar to the “Mission Impossible” theme.  In the background, a wah-wah effect adds depth to the song.  Halfway through the song, the rhythm and tempo slows gradually and adds a trippy keyboard, which adds tensions to the mix.  The lyrics are reminiscent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“Mr. Harry McQuhae” opens with a light piano chord progression and  a light guitar solo.  The drums and guitars enter, which makes the sound powerful as they descend through a chromatic scale.  During the verse, a lead guitar harmonizes with the vocal lines.  Although the song isn’t different from the rest of the album, let’s face it, the name is creative.  Portnoy adds depth by accenting notes during the bridge.  The song changes rhythm and beats several times throughout, stealing a page out of Metallica’s book.

“Vertigod” features Portnoy’s accents of certain notes to give an intense rhythm distinct from the rest of the album.  Later in the song, it changes to a ‘50s radio sound. “Control Freak” has a killer rock riff and a face-melting solo that gives a heavy metal sound to the album.

The lyrics written by Fox are genuine and talk about real life troubles and thoughts, such as determining if events are real or just fantasy, believing in lies, the notion that there’s no place like home or being a control freak.

The album is an original progressive rock album that is heavily influenced by the Beatles, Black Sabbath and Dream Theater.  I would recommend this album if you’re interested in a different style of rock.

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Bigelf: Into the Maelstrom