Under The Sun
Magna Carta Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/30/2000
Those of you who checked out our interview with Kansas' Rich Williams on our sister site, Power Chords, heard the eyepatched progressive guitar maven talk about a new band he liked called Under The Sun. Needless to say, when Da Boss said that he had the CD and I could review it, I jumped at the chance.
After three listens, I came to only two conclusions: one, I really liked it, and two, it was going to be damned hard to quantify or describe. It's easy to call a band progressive rock; but within that spectrum you can get everything from Gentle Giant to Savatage. Under The Sun is a little bit of both.
Having played together for ten years in Southern California (and what is it about California and prog lately? Between Spock's Beard and UTS, there's a lot of good things happening), UTS has a unique sound. Rush comes to mind in the insistent guitar of Chris Shryack and the bass lines of Kurt Barabas; occasional moments of Kansas pop up in the keyboards of Matt Evidon; and Shryack can do an eerie echo of "Bark At The Moon"-era Ozzy.
Don't let the namedropping fool you, however. UTS has its own distinctive blend of sound, alternately stark and serene, rich with the band's eponymous spirituality yet still stinging with impact and edge. Let's call it "damned good" and leave it at that.
Under The Sun is jam-packed with wonderful, wonderful songs. From the opening wide-screen grandeur of "This Golden Voyage" to the metal-tinged "Seeing Eye God" to the ominous mini-saga "The Time Being", there isn't a bad track to be found.
Special note, however, should be made of a few tracks. "Tracer" is reminiscent of Rush's Permanent Waves CD, tight and clear lyrically with several neat twists of phrase. "Breakwater" is a bright, martial tune that should somehow get a special award for gratuitous bagpipes. The lyric poem "Perfect World" is disturbing and bitter, a dark counterpoint to the soft, transcendent close "From Henceforth Now And Forever".
Under The Sun is refreshing, talented, reminiscent of the best of progressive rock without ever being derivative, and definitely worth your time and money. Kudos to Magna Carta Records for continuing to bring us these great, great discs. This one moves straight to my Top Ten list for the year, and if you like progressive rock, it'll be on yours, too.