“Fractured Eye” is the fourth studio release from the Mississippi based progressive rock band Slychosis, spearheaded by founder Gregg Johns. Over the years the band has experienced something of a revolving door policy of musicians and guest musicians from album-to-album, with multi-instrumentalist Johns as the one constant. Johns handled the bulk of the vocals on his earlier albums which include “Slychosis” (2006), “Slychedelia” (2008), and “Mental Hygiene” (2010), but with the release of “Fractured Eye” he apparently handed off lead vocal responsibilities to Tony White.
As great as the instrumental compositions have been throughout all four albums, vocals were never a strong suit with Slychosis. And the switch from Johns to White hasn't really improved matters all that much. The vocals are not bad … but they don't match the cinematic majesty of the music. Tony White's vocal delivery is somewhere between Geddy Lee and Dennis DeYoung.
When listening to the music of Slychosis I'm reminded of another excellent though under-rated US band - North Star. Their early albums “Feel The Cold” and “Power” occupy that second tier of talented neo-prog artists alongside Slychosis, who are not yet household names but deserve the recognition afforded their musical peers. As a matter of fact Tony White's vocals are quite reminiscent of Joe Newman the vocalist of those early North Star albums.
When Ron asked me to review their latest album he was also kind enough to include their complete discography. So I immediately immersed myself in their music. And I found myself much more impressed by their first two albums – especially “Slychedelic” That's one killer album. And had they continued in that vein I shudder at the possibilities.
After comparing the 2012 reworking of the tunes “Dreamscapes”, “Samuel” and “Glass ½ Full” which first appeared on their debut album, I found myself preferring the warmth of the original studio tracks over the remakes, even though the musical execution and production value are greatly improved on the 2012 versions.
Gregg John's return to the earlier works made me wonder why the band didn't continue in the direction of those older tracks which were much more progressive in nature than the new material. The five new tracks on “Fractured Eye” continue the heavier change in direction the band took on “Mental Hygiene”.
The album opens with a dynamic dissonant flourish as orchestral strings, a faux vocal choir, soaring guitar, and thunderous military drums herald the arrival of a mysterious entity - “The Sphinxter”.
The second track “Elements” is a good example of weak vocals not matching the cinematic majesty of the music. While on the flip-side the vocals work quite well on both “The Mariner” and “The Memory”.
“The Memory” is a stand-out track, both instrumentally and vocally. Throughout the first part of “Memory” there is a strong Rush influence, then at the 5:00 mark there is shift of gears and the music takes on an air of Happy The Man, and for the remainder of the song you'd swear Stan Whitaker had assumed vocal responsibilities.
So the inconsistent vocals were a bit of a mixed bag for me ... weak in some parts, acceptable, and on occasion excellent.
Yet instrumentally the band was running on all cylinders! This is really where the band shines.
“Elegy For Christy” is an absolutely beautiful instrumental track with elements of Genesis and Camel.
The line-up for “Fractured Eye” includes: Gregg John (guitar, keyboards, bass, and backing vocals), Tony White (lead and backing vocals, and guitar), Shannon Goree (drums, percussion, and backing vocals). Guest artist Bones Joshua Theriot (guitar solo on “Dreamscapes”).
For progressive rock aficionados “Fractured Eye” is well worth adding to your music library. And for the uninitiated I'd recommend you track down any and all albums from Slychosis. You won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on June 10th, 2013