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'A Light In The Dark'
(Inside Out) Release Date: 29th June 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland

a light in the dark

Next To None are a teen prodigy kind of band. Now it's not unknown for bands to become successful when the members are still very young (Def Leppard and more recently Australians Silverchair spring to mind) but this may be the first time in a very long time that a bunch of 15 and 16 year olds have managed to release an album of full on prog on a well known label.

Part of the mystery of how this can happen is solved when you have a look at the line up. Talented musicians though they undoubtedly are, having a drummer with the surname Portnoy can open a few doors and yes the drummer here is Max son of ex-Dream Theater man Mike.

It looks like Dad has had a hand in the opportunities afforded to this band. There have been support slots with The Winery Dogs and there's even a guest appearance by Neal Morse here plus it's not every budding drummer who was able to get serious about drumming aged eight. However Max has still had to find some contemporaries his own age and be good enough as a band that they don't disappoint those who's attention they get for a time.

I can only say from a few listens to this album that he certainly has found musicians perfectly capable of keeping up with him and maybe even his Dad! Keyboard player Thomas Cuce in particular is a real find and another child prodigy despite having to work around his dyslexia.

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The musicianship and the pedigree is here then but for me the style is almost inevitably due to the age of the participants still in a state of flux. Some of the album features a dual lead vocal set up similar to that used by Swedish prog Metallers Scar Symmetry with one clean singer and one growler taking turns. To my ears both the voices sound underdeveloped and unconvincing during frantic but technical prog metal outings like 'Social Anxiety' and album opener 'The Edge Of Sanity'.

Elsewhere there are more full on prog style leanings with touches reminiscent of Transatlantic in the truly excellent ballad 'Legacy' and full on epic sound in 'Lost' which also features a keyboard hookline with echoes of 'Hall Of The Mountain King. There are bits of Dream Theatre too in the rather excellent ten minutes of 'Control' and harder edged album closer 'Blood On My Hands'.

Of the two styles I am much more a fan of the proggier songs but let's face it I'm not sixteen any more and maybe the growly vocal leanings will appeal more to a younger, more modern audience than yours truly. However whichever side of the fence that you sit on musically or in terms of age I would recommend that you give this album a listen if prog or prog Metal is your thing.

'A Light In The Dark' is a little raw and lacks focus in a few places but many of the songs are excellent and the musicianship is stunning for people of any age. A little nepotism is alright when a band is this good!

Line up:
Max Portnoy – Drums
Ryland Holland - Guitar
Kris Rank – Bass
Thomas Cuce – Vocals, Keyboards




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