We have all been on this journey called life. Prince once sang “Don’t let the elevator bring you down”, which is virtually a life quote for me, a country music singer named John Michael Montgomery had the lyric in his hit “Life’s A Dance”, “Life’s a dance you learn as you go/sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow/don’t worry about what you don’t know/life’s a dance you learn as you go”, although I’m not a big country music fan(glaring at you bro country knockoffs), some songs had good life lessons for people to take heed to. Into The Great Divide takes a concept of storytelling and a movie trailer and some crazy instrumental progressive rock and hits you in between the eyes with their music and with their storytelling. On January 26th, Into The Great Divide released their self titled album.
It all started with the vision of one tremendous multi-instrumentalist Zack Zalon. As a co-founder of the digital agency group We See Dragons, Zack loved the music of the progressive era, in particular groups such as Dream Theater, Rush, and the guitar virtuoso work of one Steve Vai. He would not only help out the companies Virgin, Johnson & Johnson, and National Geographic, but he would help with the launching of Hello Music. Zack began to craft his vision.
Zack loved instrumental progressive rock music, however, his vision of incorporating a narrator in between each track would help guide the listener into the story of the album. Zack didn’t want to just create an original fictional piece of work, he picked up “The Hero’s Journey” by John Campbell and voice actor Larry Davis for the narration. People might have heard Larry Davis’ voice from Star Wars to famous entrepreneurs to political figures. Zack would lay down his vision at Dave Grohl’s 606 Studios and recruit the legendary Mike Mangini(Steve Vai, Dream Theater) on drums. Zack Zalon would also tap well-known producer Richard Chycki and Brendon Cassidy on orchestral arrangements as the final pieces of the Into The Great Divide puzzle. The puzzle pieces are put together and the puzzle is complete.
The narration and the storytelling by Larry Davis is impeccable, it immediately draws the listener in with his smooth yet commanding voice in the storytelling of the album. The musicianship is out of this world in this album where it completely fits the narration of the album and it is the type of music that redefines progressive rock music. Progressive rock music sometimes loses its way to the temptations of technicality, yet Into The Great Divide does a masterful job of finding that balance between a technician’s dream and the ability to craft a story and serve the song! This shows me that Into The Great Divide, with Zack Zalon and Mike Mangini are not only mastercraftsmen who should have doctoral degrees in progressive rock, but they know how to write a good song!
The pianos and the atmosphere is lush and completely out of this world in “Chapter 1-The Crossing”, and the guitars have that Steve Vai meets Dream Theater vibe in “Chapter 2-A Call To Adventure”, which through the narration and arrangements of the track, it encourages the listener to get out of their comfort zone and to maximize their potential. The transition between the technical hard rock into the lush arrangements of the piano intertwined with the harmonics of the guitar and even the cymbal arrangements that Mangini provides is absolutely incredible to listen to. It really describes “A Hero’s Journey” on so many levels, that it makes me want to check out John Campbell’s masterpiece.
The music hits into a resounding crescendo and climax in the tracks “Challenge Accepted” and “Dark Waters”. The drums crash, the guitars sweep, and the arrangements of the rhythm section take you on the odyssey that is completely unexpected, yet fully embraced at the end of the resounding crescendo.
Overall, this album redefines what progressive rock should be! Madness To Creation can honestly say that this album is absolutely groundbreaking in so many ways. It satisfies the palate of the progressive rock junkie, yet it will captivate a new audience to progressive rock as Zack Zalon and Mike Mangini of Into The Great Divide have flipped the script and made this one of the most addictive albums of 2018! Madness To Creation gives this a perfect 10 out of 10 star rating as this is the best progressive rock album I have heard this decade! Here is the track listing below!
- Chapter 1 – Intro
- Chapter 1- The Crossing
- Chapter 2- Intro
- Chapter 2- A Call To Adventure
- Chapter 3- Intro
- Chapter 3- Under A Bright Starry Sky
- Chapter 4- Intro
- Chapter 4- Tests & Enemies
- Chapter 5- Intro
- Chapter 5- Challenge Accepted
- Chapter 6- Intro
- Chapter 6- Dark Waters
- Chapter 7- Intro
- Chapter 7- Mist In The Sun
- Chapter 8- Intro
- Chapter 8- A New Perspective
- Chapter 9- Intro
- Chapter 9- The World You Made
- Chapter 10- Intro
- Chapter 10- And So It Ends
Fans can find Into The Great Divide at the following locations:
Check out the songstream for “Tests & Enemies” below!