Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peace Among the Ruins by Presto Ballet

Ok, so you like Styx, Kansas, Old REO (before they went soft), the you really need to check this band out. Presto Ballet, a band out of Seattle (its not what you think) founded by the guitarist from Metal Church (one of my favorite all-time thrash metal bands) Kurdt Vanderhoof. He was influenced by the 70's bands like Yes, Genesis and those listed above. He put together a great band and recreated that 70's sound. How did they do it you might ask. They recorded EVERYTHING in analog. Do digital BS anywhere. The bottom sounds are phenomenal and there is a real mellotron in there as well. As of this writing they just released their third album Invisible Places (with a whole new line up). I do not have this one yet but plan to get it soon. So I am going to discuss their first album and may do each album over time. However, the lineup for the first two albums are as follows:

Kurdt Vanderhoof - Guitars, additional keys
Jeff Wade : Drums
Brian Cokeley : Keyboard
Scott Albright : Vocals
Brian Lake : Bass 
Kurdt Vanderhoof has subtle yet powerful guitar riffs sprinkled throughout the album along with some good lead parts. Scott Albright has the perfect voice for this project. He is a cross between Dennis DeYoung from Styx and Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon. Jeff Wade is a more than capable drummer who keeps the parts interesting. Brian Lake, never heard of him before this, but I am a fan now. The bass lines on this album meld perfectly with the music. Brian Cokeley, this album would not be the same without the keyboards so he deserves a lot of credit for the sound.

Track Listing:
Peace Among The Ruins: Simply put, one of the best songs I have heard in a long time. The beginning just punches you in the gut and then cools out into a great groove. This song has some subtle odd time which makes it very fun to play.
The Fringes: a bit more synth in this one. Very Styx-like. There are some great vocal harmonies in this song during the chorus which has a bit of trippy feel to it. This is a foreshadow of some of the other songs later on the album.
Seasons: again a ton of great vocal harmonies. This song is straight out of the 70's. The chorus has the same chord progression as Ghost of a Chance by Rush. I don't think it was intentional and it fits great.
Find the Time: This song is No Quarter part 2. It starts with a mellotron! The beginning is mellow and later builds up. There is a great synth sound in there as well. I love No quarter and I love this song.
Speed of Time: A mellow number that starts on the acoustic guitar and adds some synth over it. Then bursts into a great driving groove with a nice keyboard overlaying the melody. The chorus has layered harmonies, again catching that classic rock vibe.
Sunshine: this is a straight-up hippy song from the late 60's. I love the vocals on this tune. Be careful, this song will get stuck in your head all day.
Slave: this song starts with that low moog sound, slowly building the tension with guitar and drums until the drums bust into a Bonham-like fill to get to the full riff with Pink-floydish synth over the top. This is a much heavier song than the previous few.
Bringin' It On: Last but not least. Starts with an acoustic guitar and the singer. Eventually it builds slightly with the drums coming in and grooves from there. This is a song to raise your lighter to.

The band also released 3 full songs free to download that were recorded for this album but not put on it. The link for them is here:
Get these songs!! They are just as good. Let me know what you think about this band. Thanks.


  1. I'll have to check these guys out. I really dig old school REO (my favorite REO albums are actually the 4 that don't have Kevin Cronin on lead vocals-- their debut with Terry Luttrell and Ridin' The Storm Out, Lost in a Dream, and This Time We Mean It with Michael Murphy). So if Presto Ballet sounds like that era of REO, I'm all over it! I also dig some of Kansas old stuff (in particular Leftoverture, Point of Know Return, Vinyl Confessions, & Drastic Measures). I used to be big into Styx as well but honestly I think I burnt myself out on them. I just can't muster the enthusiasm for them that I used to. About the only song of theirs that I still really like is Suite Madame Blue. The rest of their stuff is kind of meh with me these days.

    I'll check out Presto Ballet and let you know what I think.

  2. Perplexio, I have put a lot of my classic rock listening on hiatus because of my love of prog rock/prog metal. I heard a song of theirs on an internet station and instantly fell in love. I can't say enough about these guys. I played it for my jamming buddy and he fell in love with it as well. We play the song Peace Among The Ruins. It is so much fun. I always wished a band could capture that 70's hard rock sound and they did it perfectly. Download those songs. If you want I can email you the song Peace Among The Ruins to get a taste of it.