|Review: Stride - Imagine|
Label: Sensory Records
Year released: 2005
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: June 2, 2010
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Rated 4/5 (80%) (8 Votes)
Second album here from Prog Metal believers Stride, and something rather special in this release from 2005 that proves there is life in the old model yet. Sitting somewhere between old Vanden Plas and Images And Words-era Dream Theater, Stride play the kind of melody-tinged Progressive Metal few bands favor nowadays over the tough, technical style perfected by bands like Circus Maximus and Illusion Suite. There has been a lot of care put into this thing, and it shows, showcasing a set of polished, well thought-out compositions that range from the almost Power Metal-esque shred fest of "Endeavor" to the Rush-like grandeur of "The Waiting", a soft and reflective song that conjures images of sitting on a roof somewhere in the suburbs, just watching the world slip by.
There is a lot of beauty in these songs, due mostly to the warm, sensitive playing of keyboarder Rick Flores and the emotional vocals of Gary Belin, whose smooth tones sit somewhere between Andy Kuntz and James LaBrie. Naturally, being a prog album and all, there is a lot of showing off in the solo department (and these guys can really throw in a mind-bending lick or two), but there is a strong AOR feel to a lot of the melodies, both in the guitars and the vocals, giving Stride an edge over some of their heavier competitors.
With a production that is like a summer breeze, Imagine is a sophisticated and deep release, one that has class and style and comes across with a great air of humility. Closing with the transcendent "Time", this album stays with you after the first listen, and while it is certainly nothing you haven't heard before, with the summer coming up, it'll be the perfect listen for those bright mornings.
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