Fire Garden, FAR AND NEAR (2016). Tracks: Far and Near; There’s Something; A New Day; Life of a Drifter; A Thousand Lost Souls; War and Peace; Faint Shadows; Whitelight; and Diary of a Blood Moon.
One of the single best things about being a hyperfan of progressive rock music is always dealing with the most interesting of people. When it comes to prog—the musicians, the engineers, and the fans—we’re all basically a bunch of OCD perfectionists. And, I think we understand each other in ways non proggers simply cannot (as in, not constitutionally equipped to do so). In the nearly ten years I’ve been reviewing music online, I’ve met a number of absolutely fascinating people. None less so than Chicago’s young master of all that is melodic metal prog, Zee Baig.
The moment I first found Zee’s music—as first sold through his ep, aptly titled THE PRELUDE—I knew I had to reach out to him. I did, he was responsive, and we pretty quickly established a friendship through email. We talked about war, tradition, music, kids, art. You name it, and Zee and I talked about it. Even though we’re only a three-hours drive from one another, we’ve never actually met in person. Strange, but true. And, here’s hoping, someday soon this will be rectified.
Until that glorious moment, I’m more than content listening to Zee’s astounding music. It, in and of itself, has become a close friend. The band’s first album, SOUNDS OF MAJESTIC COLORS, has remained in my constant listening rotation since it first appeared in 2014. There’s no mistaking that the best of Dream Theater influenced and inspired much of the first album, but Fire Garden takes chances that Dream Theater never would. This is especially true in lyrical content. To be sure, Fire Garden is no clone of DT.
FAR AND NEAR, Fire Garden’s second full-length album, has just appeared on the market, and it’s a stunner, as strong and as good as anything else that has come out this year. This is no small praise when one considers how many greats have come out: from Frost* to Glass Hammer to Big Big Train. FAR AND NEAR stands with those at the very top.
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