Persephone's Dream - "Moonspell" (Pup-In-A-Cup Productions 1999, PD25155-2)
Persephone's Dream - "Opposition" (Pup-In-A-Cup Productions 2001, PD91694-3)
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
Persephone's Dream (the name is based on the Greek myth of Persephone) is a Pittsburgh based band playing accessible song-oriented progressive rock that comes across as a synthesis of neo-prog and Gothic with a metallic edge. On their first CD, Moonspell, the band are a 4-piece consisting of Rowen Poole on guitars and keyboards, Ed Wiancko on drums and percussion, Chris Siegle on bass and keyboards, and Karin Nicely on vocals.
The music flows along smoothly and there's a complexity to the instrumentation that keeps things interesting for those who listen attentively. Nothing flashy here. Just a solid group of musicians working together as an tightly polished ensemble. But the complexity is by no means overwhelming for those who wish to just get lost in the songs. I often hear Rush without the guitar solos (particularly on "Full Moon"), though Persephone's Dream have a more haunting atmospheric quality along with the crunch of the metal. Karin Nicely's vocals are the real highlight of the music and I credit her with giving the band a sound that saves them from sounding like a zillion others. She's simultaneously powerful and ethereal and gives Persephone's Dream their Gothic flavor.
Rowen Poole is a non-flashy guitarist, though we hear some tasteful solos on "Evident Dreams". I like the metallic but melodic sound to the guitar. He stands out again on "Altar Of Desire", a song that's' given an extra dose of spice by some kick ass bass from Siegle. "Alternate Reality" is one of the heaviest songs on the album and probably my favorite. "Earth Dreams" is the only track on the CD I didn't care for. The first 8 minutes is mostly a tribal percussion solo that's followed by a 4 minute bit of psychedelia and more interesting percussion that itself would have been a good intro piece. The band stray too far from their path on this lengthy track without success.
Opposition is Persephone's Dream's latest release. The music is stylistically similar to Moonspell, though the addition of John Tallent on percussion and Kim Finney on keyboards has given the band a much fuller sound. Though it has it's quieter moments, there's a more noticeable metallic core that I liked and having Kim Finney as a dedicated keyboardist is a plus. However, the songs come across as being a bit more mainstream than the music on Moonspell, which was highly accessible but offered many subtle challenges to the listener. So on the one hand Opposition has a much better band sound with noticeably superior percussion and the songs themselves are equal to anything on Moonspell. But I found much more to get involved in with the music on Moonspell. Much more to pick up on with subsequent listens. Two exceptions are "Dreamcatcher" and "Agents Of Chaos", both heavy rockers with thundering rhythm sections, excellent percussion, and wailing guitar notes that I really enjoyed. They're compositionally superior to anything on either CD and really make full use of the larger lineup of musicians.
Despite my obvious ambivalence trying to compare these two CD's, the bottom line is that anyone who likes solid, well written songs and accessible progressive rock will find much to enjoy on both these CD's. It's somewhat similar to the early Magna Carta label bands like Cairo and Shadow Gallery. So if you dig that style of prog rock then you're about guaranteed to dig Persephone's Dream. I'll bet they kick ass live.
For more information you can visit the Persephone's Dream web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o Pup-In-A-Cup Productions; PO Box 23611; Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz