Platypus - Ice Cycles Inside Out Music)2000 IOMCD056 My promo copy of this CD had nothing but the album cover and a tracklisting, which certainly prevented the album from getting a more negative review than it would have otherwise. Ice Cycles, to me, seemed to be a well-produced document of a youthful, somewhat amatuerish band trying to find a sound. As most of you probably know, Platypus are anything but a bunch of newcomers. Instead, their lineup consists of John Myung (Dream Theater), Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper, Kiss, Dream Theater, Planet X), Ty Tabor (Kings X), and Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, Steve Morse Band, Rudess/Morgenstein Project). I am glad that I was ignorant of the obviously prestigious pedigree of the musicians, because it allowed me to see more of the positive aspects of the band. Although there are certainly elements of all the members' other bands, Tybor certainly seems to have the most significant influence in the songwriting. I must confess I was never blown away with King's X, so that perhaps explains why I find this admittedly comparable release mediocre. Although most songs have interesting elements, the banal vocal melodies and occasionally laughable "virtuoso solos" (laughable because they feel forced and obligatory, despite certainly being virtuosic - Sherinian is the main culprit here). Additionally, many of the songs seem to remind me of a more progressive version of nu-metal. "Oh God" seems to tap the same power ballad feel that such bands inevitably succumb, as does "Cry" (though redeemed by an excellent, momentous instrumental midsection). "Better Left Unsaid" falls prey to this as well, but the band somehow pulls it off convincingly, while the "The Tower" and "Gone" both have excellent instrumental sections but turn to shameful mediocrity in the weak vocal sections. Perhaps the most successful composition is "I Need You," which sports a strong Beatles influence integrated into the modern progressive hard rock format. The instrumental "25" works well also, showing the band doing the pop-prog rock that they seem to do best. The album ends with an obligatory 10-minute instrumental epic - a VERY obligatory 10-minute instrumental epic that seems like a wankfest with no purpose but to kill time until the album reaches the 45-minute mark. The entire piece seems to be composed of directionless, though not always completely worthless, fragments strung together haphazardly in hopes that everything will just work out in the end. That aside, Platypus have potential to be something good, if they stop trying to simultaneously be sudsy melodic pop-stars and robotic, tasteless virtuosos. King's X fans should definitely check them out, but I would expect their appeal to be otherwise limited. ~Adam Murphree~ EER-MUSIC.com
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