Izz is a band I am very familiar with, having seen them many years back at the 2002 Progwest show in Southern California. I became a fan then, following their career through the nineties and seeing them several times at various festivals. I originally described them years ago as Crowded House meets Yes. I felt this was appropriate due to the familial make-up of the band and the cross between a poppy, Beatlesque sound and a progressive one.
From the start, this record belies those initial impressions I had when listening to their 2002 release, I Move. With title cut “My River Flows,” a new Izz emerges, introducing King Crimson and Gentle Giant influences to the mix. This tells me we will be listening to an Izz like no other previously heard.
Paul Bremner (Brems) has to be one of the most underrated guitarists in the prog community. His intro on the twelve minute epic “Late Night Salvation” blows me away with an almost Ritchie Blackmore fervor ala “Highway Star” or “Burn.” Tom Galgano enters with a simple yet elegant vocal and subtle piano echoed by Brems’ graceful fretwork. Brems has proven on this album alone that he can play anything from Adrian Belew noises and roars to the lightning fast speed of the Satriani/Van Halen school.
“Deception” and “Crossfire” are two mid-length progressive rock songs showing the bands propensity to play differing styles from pop to eclectic to symphonic, all while staying firmly in the progressive rock mode. “Anything I Can Dream” shows them wearing their Lennon-McCartney sleeves and “Abby’s Song” is a beautiful song with John Galgano taking lead vocals about a young child that I assume is related to the band in some manner. It sounds very personal.
The ultimate Izz epic at over 21½ minutes is “Deafening Silence.” A little quick history: I’ve seen Izz at CalProg a few times and each time they come prepared with a classic prog song to play as is the CalProg tradition. An experience that will ever stay in my mind was when they featured “Close to the Edge” in their 2004 appearance. The two female vocalists in the band Laura Meade and Anmarie Byrnes moved me to tears as they sang those signature Anderson lines “I get up, I get down.” It was beautiful. Perhaps spurred by the success of that performance, the band features the girls heavily in this superb epic which feels like they’ve taken two classic prog epics (Close to the Edge and Supper’s Ready) and smooshed them. A bit more unique than that, but you get the idea.
I’ve mentioned the entire band with the exception of the two highly talented percussionists that Izz utilizes, Brian Coralian and Greg DiMiceli. I can’t close without giving kudos to their incredible contributions to the mix.
This CD topped my “Best of” list for 2005 and continues to be a favorite of mine that I have come back to year after year to enjoy. Hey you! It’s okay to come late to the party. I’m sure My River Flows will make a good impression on you. After that, explore the rest of their catalog if you haven’t already.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on June 9th, 2010